Working memory tasks designed for children usually present trials in order of ascending difficulty, with testing discontinued when the child fails a particular level. Unfortunately, this procedure comes with a number of issues, such as decreased engagement from high-ability children, vulnerability of the scores to temporary mind-wandering, and large between-subjects variations in number of trials, testing time, and proactive interference. To circumvent these problems, the goal of the present study was to demonstrate the feasibility of assessing working memory using an adaptive testing procedure. The principle of adaptive testing is to dynamically adjust the level of difficulty as the task progresses to match the participant's ability. We used this method to develop an adaptive complex span task (the ACCES) comprising verbal and visuo-spatial subtests. The task presents a fixed number of trials to all participants, allows for partial credit scoring, and can be used with children regardless of ability level. The ACCES demonstrated satisfying psychometric properties in a sample of 268 children aged 8–13 years, confirming the feasibility of using adaptive tasks to measure working memory capacity in children. A free-to-use implementation of the ACCES is provided.
Behavior Research Methods – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 22, 2017
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