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The Psychological Assessment of Language: A Philosophical Critique of the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities.

Heffernan, P. J. (1978) The Psychological Assessment of Language: A Philosophical Critique of the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities. PhD thesis, Institute of Education, University of London.

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It is argued in this paper that the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities (ITPA), a test widely used in the assessment of certain language abilities in children, does not measure what it purports to measure; in psychometric terminology, it does not have construct validity. Specifically it is contended that the inferences concerning the processing of language which are made on the basis of children's performance on the tasks of the test are not warranted. Three competing versions of the intended inferences are characterized • at the outset of the paper, with particular attention being paid to the logical relations obtaining between a given inference and the test performance on which it is based. Central among these competing interpretations is that wherein the psycholinguistic processes postulated by Charles E. Osgood in his mediational response (neobehaviorist) theory of communication are taken to be under assessment. Considerable attention and criticism is brought to bear on Osgood's theory because of the central role it played in the development of the ITPA and because, at least on one interpretation of the test, the processes specified by him are under assessment. The latter interpretation is rejected on the grounds that Osgoodian theory is incorrect, vitiated by an equivocation on his central theoretical construct. The two other interpretations of the test, which do not depend upon the correctness of Osgood's theory for their own validity, are challenged and rejected independently. The conclusion reached is that under none of the adopted formulations, all of which are supported by the ITPA literature and have adherents amono the test's many commentators, does the ITPA succeed in providing the information about children's processinc of language which-it purports to provide. The manifest consequences for educational decisions and programs predicated on the belief that the test doeS do so are noted.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Thesis: PHD University of London Institute of Education, 1978.
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Date Deposited: 31 Oct 2014 12:51
Last Modified: 09 May 2016 15:18
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