Assessing strengths and difficulties in social development: a comparison of the Social Emotional Assessment Measure (SEAM) with two established developmental psychopathological questionnaires

Nina Madsen Sjoe, Astrid Kiil, Dorthe Bleses, Line Dybdal, Svend Kreiner & Peter Jensen.

06.11.2018 | Lone Amdi Boisen

In both basic research and applied domains, the prevailing paradigm for assessing social development has shifted from deficit-oriented measures to strength-based assessments or a combination. However, it is not yet clear the extent to which strength-based assessment reflects one end of a single dimension of children´s socio-emotional skills, or a distinctly different dimension from a problem-focused examination.

This validation study compares the Social Emotional Assessment Measure (SEAM) with two well-known psychopathological questionnaires (the Caregiver-Teacher Report Form; C-TRF and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire; SDQ-T). We explore the relations between and the variation of the three questionnaires´ scores based on a low-risk sample of 2-5-year-old Danish Children (n = 291). The SEAM Empathy Index is directly and positively related to the SDQ-T Prosocial subscale, while the SEAM Selfregulation & Cooperation Index is directly and negatively related to the SDQ-T Conduct problems subscale and the C-TRF Aggressive behavior and Attention problems subscales.

The variation in the SEAM indexes at the floor of the problem-based scales appears to reflect that strength-based assessments measure a distinct aspect of behavior that is not identical to absence of problem-based behavior. Thus, positive and negative aspects of socio-emotional skills are not entirely on the same dimension, and strength-based assessment improves the range of information.

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