Thursday, January 12, 2006

Review of "Essentials of WPPSI - III Assessment"

Lichtenberger, E.O. & Kaufman, A.S. (2004). Essentials of WPPSI-III Assessment. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley and Sons

The second of my reviews is Elizabeth Lichtenberger's and Alan Kaufman's Essentials of WPPSI-III. This is a volume in the "Essentials of Psychological Assessment" series that has been put out by Wiley Publishing. In general, I will restate that the series is incredibly useful and practical (see my review of Essentials of WISC-IV Assessment posting dated 1/6/06 on this blog for more on my impressions of the "Essentials" series.

The book is priced at $34.95 - that seems to be the going price for all of the "Essentials" books. Normally, I would rail that this price is somewhat excessive. With my previous review, I found that the money was well-spent. With this volume, I lament the fact that I had my students buy this text. I am incredibly embarrassed that I made my students believe that this was a good book. I made the erroneous assumption of generalizing my positive opinion for the Essentials series onto this particular volume.

I believe that the authors in this instance tried to pack so many interpretive theories into one book, that the end result is that the text has no cohesiveness. Much of chapter four is taken up by lists that have no end in sight; neverending lists attempt to document all the mundane factors which may affect performance on a particular sub-test (e.g., second language interference) as well as all the aspects of theories which may possibly explain low/high performance.

And let me digress here a bit. If they were all good, well- researched theories, then that might be a minor inconvenience. Not all theories are created equal, however. To see on the same list that Gc:LD and that "repression may lead to poor performance by pushing out of consciousness any word meanings that are even mildly conflict laden" (p.102) may both affect performance on the Vocabulary subtest is absolutely ridiculous. "Theory" is not equivalent to "idea" or "belief". A theory is a set of hypotheses that are related to one another and allow one to evaluate for its non-existence. The term "belief" belongs to religion; religion does not need reason to prove or disprove it. Science however is not something that we should believe in - we need science to show us the proof. In the same vein, I don't believe in CHC theory; I accept that CHC research has shown it to be very effective for diagnosing and developing remediation strategies for learners with difficulties (just to note, I do not believe in "repression"; it does not help me when I am working with a learner with difficulties, and it does nothing for my soul on a spiritual level).
Furthermore, the authors' reasons for rejecting Flanagan and Alfonso's model are ridiculous (p. 85). In general, they state that the CHC theory speaks to the group and not the individual child that you are evaluating. Yes, the individual should be considered during the assessment, but it is important to keep in mind that all considerations are made viz-a-viz the rest of the universe (or in this case several children who are at the same age as the child you are evaluating). A cognitive assessment is pointless if the population of the planet Earth is 1.

So, in general, I feel very guilty that I had my students buy this book, and I apologize sincerely. If you are considering buying this book, save yourself $35 plus shipping and handling, and buy something more scientific, like some issues of "Blue's Clues" children's books.

If anyone is aware of any other good texts that help in the interpretation of the WPPSI-III, please comment.

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