Sharon A. Cermak, Julie Bissell; Content and Construct Validity of Here’s How I Write (HHIW): A Child’s Self-Assessment and Goal Setting Tool. Am J Occup Ther 2014;68(3):296-306. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2014.010637.
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OBJECTIVE. We examined content and construct validity of Here’s How I Write: A Child’s Self-Assessment and Goal Setting Tool, to assess children’s perception of their handwriting and set child-directed goals.
METHOD. In Study 1, a content validity study, 6 occupational therapists and 2 educators assessed the need for this type of measure and examined the proposed items. Thirty-four occupational therapists and educators then completed an online survey examining the items. Study 2, a construct validity study, compared the self-ratings of 20 children with poor handwriting and 20 children with good handwriting in Grades 2–5 with their teachers’ ratings.
RESULTS. Results supported test content and indicated freedom from culture and gender bias. The assessment discriminated between good and poor writers. The relationship between teacher and student ratings was significant, although teachers of poor writers rated the children lower than the children rated themselves.
CONCLUSION. These studies provide support for the tool’s validity.
What percentage of your [occupational therapists’] referrals relate in some way to handwriting problems?
What tools do you use in identifying handwriting needs and making recommendations?
At what age do you think a child is capable of self-assessing the status of his or her own handwriting?
Would a child’s self-assessment of handwriting be valuable to you in practice?
Do you anticipate any problems with the use of such a tool?
Percentage of occupational therapy referrals for handwriting problems: The occupational therapists reported that handwriting was a nearly universal concern among teachers and parents who referred children to occupational therapy. The percentage of referrals with handwriting concerns these occupational therapists received ranged from 75%–90%.
Tools used in identifying handwriting needs and making recommendations: The method the occupational therapists and teachers used most frequently to evaluate students’ handwriting needs was a subjective evaluation of work samples followed by administration of the Beery–Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual–Motor Integration (Beery, Buktenica, & Beery, 2006), the Peabody Developmental Motor Scales (Folio & Fewell, 2000), the Bruininks–Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency (Bruininks, 1978), the Handwriting Without Tears Print Tool (Olsen & Knapton, 2006), or the Evaluation Tool of Children’s Handwriting (Amundson, 1995). Many of the occupational therapists used assessments that focused on foundational factors versus ecological factors, such as the child’s opinion, in the context of everyday handwriting.
Age of handwriting self-assessment capability: The youngest age at which the occupational therapists and teachers thought a child would be able to self-assess the quality of his or her handwriting was second to third grade, with the exception of one therapist and one teacher who thought that a first-grade student would be able to self-assess toward the end of the school year.
Value of a child’s self-assessment of handwriting in practice: Interviewees unanimously agreed that a child’s self-assessment of handwriting would be a valuable addition to the current method of evaluation if it were able to inform the instruction and intervention process. Comments included the following: “This tool may be useful in the prereferral process and eliminate the need for a complete assessment.” “It is a tool that potentially teachers as well as OT’s could use collaboratively.” “I like the idea of involving the student in the assessment process.”
Problems anticipated with the use of such a tool: The teachers and occupational therapists identified the following potential concerns: “A child with a handwriting problem related to visual perception may not perceive the difference in neat vs. poor handwriting.” “Some children with poor handwriting may not be capable of improving their own handwriting, even though they agree it needs improving.” “Sometimes the problem is not with the recognition of poor letter formation but in the mental translation of what to write and how to organize thoughts and words in an organized manner… . I have children who have neat writing in OT and poor handwriting in class.”
This research shows that the HHIW discriminates between children with and without handwriting problems and provides a direct method to identify and address handwriting concerns in the context of a child’s curriculum expectations.
The assessment can be used with other handwriting assessments and can aid a child’s teachers and occupational therapy practitioners in understanding his or her handwriting needs and developing methods for change.
The HHIW assessment process develops a child’s self-awareness, self-evaluation, and goal setting ability. Children engaged in the assessment and goal setting process become active, engaged learners.
The test is an ecologically valid assessment that assesses a child’s handwriting in the context of classroom performance and actively engages both the child and teacher in setting and monitoring goals.
The test is administered in an engaging child-centered card game interview format reflecting the childhood occupations of play, handwriting, and schoolwork.
The HHIW is useful in the Response to Intervention and individualized education program literacy and learning process in both general education and special education.
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