Using Picture Identification for Research with Preschool Children

Article excerpt

Preschool children present a unique challenge to educators because the view of the world for the preschooler -- what they see, what they know, how they interpret experiences, and how they communicate -- often differs from the perspective of adults. Other characteristics including brief attention span, lack of fine motor skills, and limited understanding of language, also influence assessment methodology.

The most appropriate health knowledge and skill assessment involves observing children while they demonstrate knowledge through an activity or behavior.[1] However, this observation may be supplemented with an appropriate checklist or instrument, such as a picture identification instrument?

Researchers have addressed the techniques of measuring the health knowledge of preschool children. Some attempted to devise a means of assessing comprehensive health knowledge.[4-6] Others developed instruments and protocols to measure knowledge of a specific health topic or of a specific population group. Efforts include testing knowledge about heart health,[7] self-concept,[8] and drugs.[9,10] This article 1) reviews the reliability of picture identification tools in previous studies; 2) provides recommendations for assessing health knowledge of preschool children; and 3) suggests ways health knowledge data can be used appropriately in early childhood education programs.


Instrument development to assess preschool children has focused on picture identification tools, and that focus led to the development of comprehensive health knowledge tests for young children. Andrews[4] developed the first of these instruments to assess the cognitive and affective impact of the Longitudinal Study of the Primary Grades Health Curriculum Project. The protocol of this instrument called for children to select one of three pictures on a page that represented a healthy behavior, food, or other health-related concept. Using the retest method for estimating stability, the 30-item instrument produced an estimate of r = .72-.93 when administered to kindergarten and first grade students.

Hendricks[11] modified Andrews' instrument by deleting items with low-item discrimination (r [is less than] .20), high-difficulty indexes (range of .30-.90), and if another item tested the content matter. Other slight wording modifications were added for clarity. To increase content validity, new items were added to ensure that all 10 health content areas recommended by the National Center for Health Education were included. The final instrument contained 30 items. Using Chronbach's alpha, Hendricks et al[2] estimated the internal consistency at .83. Reassessed in 1988, the retest stability was estimated at .89 using Pearson's r and the internal consistency was estimated as .83 through use of K-R21 techniques.[2]

The second instrument, the Preschool Health Knowledge Assessment Test,[5] used picture identification to assess the health knowledge of children. Two forms of the 45-item test were developed for the retest protocol. Internal consistency of the two forms were .27 and .55, respectively. Data stability using alternate forms was .52, indicating a low level of stability within the instrument.

Mobley[12] developed the Preschool Health Knowledge Assessment instrument that consisted of 42 picture cards. The first five cards established the child's ability to point appropriately. The remaining 37 cards assessed the child's ability to distinguish between behaviors that promote health and safety and those that did not. Cronbach's alpha assessment of the instrument was computed at .55. Retest methodology was estimated at r = .89 suggesting the instrument was stable across time.


Hale and Hardy's Helpful Health Hints

The Hale and Hardy's Helpful Health Hints[13] is a comprehensive health education curriculum developed for Head Start programs. …