Preliminary Investigation Examining the Validity of the Compliance Test and a Brief Behavioral Observation Measure for Identifying Children with Disruptive Behavior

By Filcheck, Holly A.; Berry, Traci. A. et al. | Child Study Journal, March 2004 | Go to article overview

Preliminary Investigation Examining the Validity of the Compliance Test and a Brief Behavioral Observation Measure for Identifying Children with Disruptive Behavior


Filcheck, Holly A., Berry, Traci. A., McNeil, Cheryl B., Child Study Journal


The Compliance Test and classroom behavioral observations have been used by clinicians and researchers to determine the level of disruptive behavior exhibited by children. However, little data have been collected with regard to their validity. In the current study, the Compliance Test and a brief behavioral observation procedure (Revised Edition of the School Observation Coding System; REDSOCS) were compared to the Conners' Teacher Rating Scale-39 (CTRS-39) to determine whether they are valid procedures to use to discriminate preschool children with disruptive (n = 15) and typical (n = 15) behavior. Clinical implications of the results are discussed with regard to assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of young children with conduct disturbance. Results indicated that the Compliance Test and the REDSOCS significantly discriminated between disruptive and typical children, and had good convergent and divergent validity.

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The assessment of child noncompliance is a central concern when researching and treating children with disruptive behavior disorders (Hembree-Kigin & McNeil, 1995). One widely used method for evaluating noncompliance in children is the Compliance Test (Roberts, 1985), an analog task that involves 30 one-step instructions such as, "put this doll in the house," or "put this car in the garage." Additionally, the Revised Edition of the School Observation Coding System (REDSOCS; Jacobs et al., 2000), a brief behavioral observation measure, has been used to determine the level of disruptive behavior (e.g., inappropriate behavior, noncompliance, aggressiveness) in the classroom.

Several studies have been conducted in which the Compliance Test has been used to evaluate the outcome of parent training programs and to determine whether praise increases compliant behavior (e.g., Bernhardt & Forehand, 1975; Brumfield & Roberts, 1998; Filcheck, McNeil, & Herschell, 2001; Roberts, 1985; Roberts, Hatzenbuehler, & Bean, 1981; Roberts & Powers, 1988). The Compliance Test also has been used in clinical settings to determine if treatments are effective in increasing child compliance (Forehand & McMahon, 1981). Because of its importance for both research and clinical work, it is critical for the Compliance Test to be valid. Yet, information concerning the psychometric properties of the Compliance Test is limited (e.g., Jacobs et al., 2000).

The original School Observation Coding System (SOCS; McNeil, Eyberg, Eisenstadt, Newcomb, & Funderburk, 1991) and the REDSOCS (Jacobs et al., 2000) have been used in several studies to discriminate between children exhibiting disruptive behavior and children exhibiting typical behavior (e.g., Funderburk et al., 1998; Jacobs et al., 2000; McNeil et al., 1991). Because behavioral observation is a relatively objective and ecologically valid means of assessing disruptive classroom behavior, it is important that available measures be time-efficient, reliable, and valid.

In the current study, the validity of the Compliance Test and behavioral observations were examined by determining how well they discriminated between children exhibiting disruptive behavior and children exhibiting typical behavior in preschool classrooms. Additionally, data were gathered examining the relationship between these measures and a well-established measure of disruptive behavior, the Conners' Teacher Rating Scale-39 (CTRS-39; Brown & Wynne, 1982; Conners, 1969; Diamond & Deane, 1990; DuPaul & Barkley, 1992; Epstein & Nieminen, 1983). Determining the validity of these measures for non-clinic referred samples is important for future research examining assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of children with disruptive behavior disorders.

Compliance Test

The Compliance Test has been used in many studies to determine the level of child noncompliance exhibited by children. Specifically, Roberts (1985) conducted a study in which he used the Compliance Test to examine children's responses to social reinforcement. …

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