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Validity of the Kohn Social Competence Scale for use with elementary school children Gornall, Morag Elizabeth

Abstract

The Kohn Social Competence Scale (Kohn and Rosman, 1972a, 1972b), which measures a child's level of social-emotional functioning in the classroom, was designed for use with pre-school children-Factor analysis of the items revealed two orthogonal factors which were labelled Interest-Participation vs. Apathy-Withdrawal and Cooperation-Compliance vs. Anger-Defiance. The Kohn Social Competence Scale assesses a child's level of social-emotional functioning through teacher ratings of the child's interactions with peers and adults and the use the child makes of the classroom environment for learning. Over the last fifty years, the two factors identified by Kohn and Rosman have repeatedly emerged from research into emotional disturbance in children (Kohn, 1977). These dimensions have been shown to have wide generality across age groups, settings, instruments and research methods (Kohn and Rosman, 1972b; Peterson, 1961; Walker, 1967). Kohn's research (Kohn, 1977) has provided empirical evidence for the generality and clinical relevance of the two factor model of social-emotional functioning at both the preschool and elementary school levels. In addition, a third bipolar factor found by Schaefer and Aaronson (1966) in an elementary school population (labelled Task Orientation), has been demonstrated by Kohn (1977) to be a valid dimension with elementary school children, despite the high correlation between this factor and the Kohn factor Cooperation-Compliance vs. Anger-Defiance. The purpose of the present study was to validate the Kohn Social Competence Scale for use with elementary school children. Not only would this provide additional evidence for the persistence of the two-factor model but would mean that the Kohn Social Competence Scale could ultimately be used by elementary school teachers. The 64 item Kohn Social Competence Scale was used in the present study. In this version of the scale, items dealing with nap-time, snack-time,and other aspects of day-care inappropriate to the elementary school were eliminated from the 73 item version. Teachers (n=117)from a local school district rated 210 grade two children and 189 grade five children on the Kohn Social Competence Scale. The children were randomly selected from within the grades two and five populations of the school district. Two grade levels xvere chosen for analysis to see if a difference in the factor structure existed between the primary and intermediate grades of the elementary school. The matrices of Pearson product - moment correlations, computed from the item level data of both the grades two and five samples, were subjected to principal components analysis followed by a varimax rotation, to image analysis followed by varimax rotation, and to image analysis followed by an oblique Harris-Kaiser solution. These analyses suggested that three oblique bipolar factors accounted for the variance in the item level data at both grade levels. The factors were identified as Cooperation-Compliance vs. Anger-Defiance, Interest-Participation vs. Apathy-Withdrawal and High vs. Low Task Orientation. In the three factor solutions, factor I was confounded by the presence of the third factor. Since the purpose of the study was to validate the scale for use, it was decided to work with the first two factors only. The scale was reduced from 64 items to 44 items better to meet Thurstone's criteria for simple structure (Thurstone, 1947). Directions for future research include an examination of the three and two-factor models in elementary school populations and an investigation of the correlates of the factors. Finally, Canadian elementary school norms might be collected for the 44 item Kohn Social Competence Scale.

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