Assessment and Development of Social Competence: Introduction to the Special Issue

By Arnold, Karl-Heinz; Lindner-Müller, Carola | Journal for Educational Research Online, January 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Assessment and Development of Social Competence: Introduction to the Special Issue


Arnold, Karl-Heinz, Lindner-Müller, Carola, Journal for Educational Research Online


Abstract

Social competence is regarded as an important goal of education in both family and school. As prosocial behavior presumably emerges by observing successful models, social competence can also be seen as a major qualification of parents and teachers. Developing sound instruments for the assessment of social competence constitutes the first step in studying both the development of social competence and its impact on other crucial outcomes of education and psycho-social development.

The editorial section of this special issue discusses two areas of research problems. First, social competence as a comprehensive construct bears problems of definition (Herrmann, 1976) and therefore raises questions on how to gain empirical evidence on theoretically derived facets of social competence. This issue is addressed by the concepts of multi-dimensionality, personality, developmental change, and cultural context as well as the reference to different perspectives on social competence (e.g., normal vs. clinical perspective). Secondly, the demands of assessing social competence are discussed in terms of measurement methods (e.g., behavior rating vs. behavior observation), the maximization-optimization dilemma at item level, numerical vs. evidential score variation, and lack of level-II units.

Keywords

Social competence; Validity; Study design

Erfassung und Entwicklung sozialer Kompetenz: Einführung in das Themenheft

Zusammenfassung

Soziale Kompetenz gilt als zentrales Ziel und Wirkung sowohl familiärer als auch schulischer Erziehung sowie der Einflüsse von Peer-Interaktionen in der Freizeit. Da soziale Kompetenz vermutlich primär durch Beobachtungslernen erworben wird, müssen die filr Kinder bzw. Schüler verfügbaren signifikanten Modellpersonen (Eltern, Lehrkräfte) gleichfalls über erhebliche soziale Fähigkeiten verfügen. Die Entwicklung von Instrumenten zur Erfassung sozialer Kompetenz stellt den Ausgangspunkt dar, um sowohl Entwicklungsmerkmale sozialer Kompetenz als auch Effekte sozialer Fähigkeiten auf schulfachliche Bildung untersuchen zu können.

Im Editorial dieses Themenheftes werden zwei grundlegende Problemkreise diskutiert. Zunächst geht es um die Frage, wie ein solch breites Konstrukt definiert (Herrmann, 1976) und entsprechende Definitionen empirisch geprüft werden können. Diese Frage untersucht folgende Aspekte: Multidimensionalität des Konstrukts, Bezugnahme zu Persönlichkeitskonstrukten, entwicklungsbedingter Konstruktwandel, kulturelle Kontextgebundenheit und die Konstruktbearbeitung aus verschiedenen Perspektiven (z. B. klinische vs. nicht-klinische Perspektive. Der zweite Teil erörtert die Herausforderungen an die Empirie, die sich auf die instrumentelle Erfassung sozialer Kompetenz (?. B. Verhaltenseinschätzung vs. -beobachtung), das Maximierungs- vs. Minimisierung sdilemma auf Itemebene, die Analyse numerischer vs. faktenbasierter Varianz sowie den Mangel an Ebene-IIUntersuchungseinheiten im Mehrebenendesign beziehen.

Schlagworte

Soziale Kompetenz; Validität; Untersuchungspläne

1. Relevance and general challenges of studying social competence

Educational science considers social competence as a basic outcome of education received in family and education institutions. But empirical research in this area has to deal with a variety of problems. This may be due to several reasons.

Social competence is a comprehensive construct with various facets which refer to cognitive, emotional-motivational, and behavioral aspects (Kanning, 2003). In addition, social competence develops in multiple contexts, in both formal (e.g., pre-school institutions and schools) and informal education (e.g., family education, sports and other leisure groups, peer activities). To cover these sources of impact, a number of settings and variables should be considered. From a psychometric perspective, broadly defined constructs are likely to be multi-dimensional and can only be represented by a single score if the construct is of hierarchical nature. …

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