DECISION MAKING IN SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT
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Decision making by school psychologists was studied to determine the influence of referral information and test data as well as psychologists' age, sex, education, and experience on clinicians' diagnoses and recommendations. It was anticipated that psychologists' decisions based on referral information and test data together would be more congruent with the referral information than the test data. In addition, it was expected that age, sex, and education of psychologists would not bias their findings. However, it was speculated that differences in the years of experience would be evidenced in subjects' variations of diagnoses and recommendations.;The sample was 73 school psychologists who were divided into four groups. Three groups were equated for specific demographic variables. The fourth group was comprised of clinicians with a similar educational level and a minimum level of experience. Each group received different student data (referral information, test data, referral information and test data, psychological report) concerning the same students. Each clinician rated the student data using a standard rating form.;The subjects' ratings were evaluated by group as well as by demographic categories within and across all groups. A one-way analysis of variance was computed for each rating variable and all rating variables combined with post hoc Scheffe analyses conducted, as appropriate.;The results supported the hypothesis that the referral markedly influences the judgments of school psychologists, and that there is a greater influence of referral information than of test data on the ratings of children. The findings indicated that school psychologists more consistently agreed that referral information portrays students as having greater difficulties than noted in the students' test data. However, the clinicians evidenced less agreement surrounding the interpretation of test data, which were rated with less emphasis on pathology than the referral information. The clinicians' age, sex, graduate degree in psychology, education beyond the highest degree, and years of experience within or outside of the schools were found to be unrelated to differences in the diagnoses of students' difficulties and related recommendations. The relationship of the findings to the theories espoused by Bandura, Mischel, and Darley and Fazio were discussed. In addition, recommendations for future research were suggested.