LEITER-R & WCST

I've been working as a research assistant for a year and a half now and I've had to use many different psychological tests on our participants and I can safely say that out of all the tests that I've had to use, the Leiter-R and the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test are the most difficult ones. It is not the actual test that is hard; it’s simply trying to keep the participant alert and motivated that is challenging.

I should first mention that I've only worked with kids between the ages of 6 and 9 which definitely explain why these tests are so difficult to apply. During training we were encouraged to bring the different tests home and try it out on family members and people that we knew but none of that could have prepared me for doing the actual test on a child.

The Leiter-R is a nonverbal measure of general intelligence; it measures many different functions such as memory, visualization, attention and nonverbal reasoning. The whole test is done in silence. I have to explain to the child the instructions by simply using hand movements and facial expression. I've only worked with the Visualization and Reasoning domains. I test 4 different sub-tests which take about 45 minutes to complete. 45 minutes for a child is an eternity. I've often had children have melt downs halfway through the Leiter. It is long and very tedious.

The next test is called the Wisconsin card sorting test. It measures the ability of being flexible when faced with changes. Here is the online sample of the test. I place 4 stimulus cards in front of the child then I give them a set of cards and tell them to match the given cards to the stimulus cards but I can’t tell them in which way to match them. All I can say is whether they matched it correctly or incorrectly. You can match the cards by color, shape or number. Once the child gets 10 correct matches in a row, we have to change the sorting attribute. It takes about 30 minutes to do this test. The task is difficult for some children, some children show pure frustration when they keep matching the cards incorrectly. They become uncooperative and lose complete interest.

However, after doing these tests over and over, it becomes easier with time. For me, the most helpful thing is ensuring that the child is well fed before the test. I ask their parents to bring lots of snacks for them. I also found it super important to give the children breaks, by simply giving them a 5 minute break, it makes a huge difference!

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