Advancing technology: The reliability and acceptability of using handheld computers to streamline direct observation

Date of Completion

January 2004


Education, Tests and Measurements|Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Technology of




As a relatively young discipline, school psychology has continually experienced a significant level of change in what are considered best practices. A growing need for simple and efficient methods for collecting quantitative data has developed in response to the success of assessment and intervention strategies such as Curriculum Based Assessment (CBA; Shapiro, 1996) and federal mandates regarding the use of Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) in special education (IDEA: PL 105-17). Both of these approaches involve the direct and frequent measurement of student behavior in the school setting. Research has shown that graphically presenting these data along side qualitative explanations in reports and presentations by school psychologists leads to more effective instruction by teachers and greater improvements in student performance (Fuchs, Fuchs, & Hamlet, 1989). As technology allows for the development of new tools for recording and analyzing observational data, a need has arisen to insure these tools are at least as effective as existing methodologies. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of training (minimal or extensive), and method of data collection (computerized or traditional paper and pencil) on the inter-rater agreement and acceptability of performing direct observations within classroom settings. ^