The Assessment of Children's Social Skills through Self-Report: A Potential Screening Instrument for Classroom Use. (Articles)

Article excerpt

The Children's Self-Report Social Skills Scale (CS (4)). a 21-item instrument, was developed to measure children 's perspectives on their own social skills. Test--retest reliability and internal consistency reliability of CS (4) scores were .74 and .96, respectively Principal component analysis revealed 3 reliable components: Social Rules, Likeability, and Social ingenuousness.

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Traditionally, parents and teachers have been among the most common sources of in formation regarding a child's behavior. Although these adult ratings can offer useful information, the accuracy of their reports can possibly be distorted by factors such as reporting biases (e.g., "middle-class" bias) and depression (Youngstrom, Izard, & Ackerman, 1999; Youngstrom, Loeber, & Stouthamer-Loeber, 2000). The potential biases in these reports can be viewed as quite costly because important decisions are often based on these assessments. Thus, assessment decisions should not necessarily rely solely on the adult's report of the child's behavior. Rather, researchers and clinicians have emphasized the importance of gathering a self-report from the child so that an additional source of information is available and the child is able to convey his or her own perceptions and behaviors (Achenbach, 1995; La Greca, 1990; Loeber, Green, & Lahey, 1990).

A clear advantage of a child's self-report is that he or she is in the unique position to report on behaviors across different situations, including home, classroom, playground, sports practice, and so forth. Beitchman and Corradini (1988) stated,

The limitations of teacher and parent rating scales point to the necessity of developing similar instruments that can better represent the child's point of view. Because the child is, of course, common to both school and home, it may be that his view of himself is the most important predictor of his behavior. (p. 478)

Advantages of child self-report measures include the following: (a) The instruments are generally inexpensive and can be easily administered in a wide variety of settings, such as an outpatient clinic, a pediatrician's office, a school, or home (Beitchman & Corradini, 1988), and (b) meaningful information--the child's perceptions and cognitions--is provided that is not otherwise accessible to other reporters.

Because of these advantages, several children's self-report scales are being used both clinically and in research. These measures have been developed to assist in the assessment of several domains, such as depression (e.g., Birleson, 1981; Kovacs, 1981), coping skills (Causey & Dubow, 1992), and overall functioning (e.g., Achenbach, 1991a). One domain that is lacking in the area of self-report measures is social skills. Social skills are necessary for all children, so that the child is able to interact within his or her social milieu. Furthermore, social skill deficits can prove detrimental to a child's later functioning, highlighting the importance of assessment in this domain (Dodge & Richard, 1985; Elliott & Gresham, 1987). In this article, we present a measure that was developed for assessment in the area of children's social skills. First, we provide a brief definition of social skills and explain the importance and need for such a measure.

Many conceptualizations of social skills proposed by researchers fall somewhere on a continuum between two basic models, the trait model of social skills and the molecular model of social skills (McFall, 1982). The trait model treats social skills as an underlying personality characteristic, whereas the molecular model defines social skills in terms of specific, observable units of behavior, laying the foundation for an individual's overall performance in each social situation. Dissatisfied with the two prevailing models, McFall proposed defining social skills as specific abilities that enable a person to perform competently at particular tasks. …