Biographic Data Measurement Vignettes Evaluation Cognitive And Neuropsychological Tests

Afza.Malik GDA

Biographic Data and Its Measurement

Biographic Data Measurement  Vignettes  Evaluation Cognitive And Neuropsychological Tests

Biographic Data Measurement   Vignettes  Evaluation Cognitive And Neuropsychological Tests Anastasi and Urbina (1997) and Walsh and Betz (1995) 

    Another data collection alternative is called vignettes. Vignettes rely on self-reports by participants, but involve a stimulus. Uses of Vignettes Vignettes are brief descriptions of events or situations to which respondents are asked to react. The descriptions, which can either be fictitious or based on fact, are structured to elicit information about respondents' perceptions, opinions, or knowledge about some phenomenon. 

aThe vignettes are usually written narrative descriptions, but researchers have also used videotaped vignettes. The questions posed to respondents after the vignettes may be either open-ended (eg, How would you recommend handling this situation?) or closed-ended (eg, On the scale below, rate how well you believe the nurse handled the situation). The number of vignettes included in a study normally ranges from 4 to 10. 

    Sometimes the underlying purpose of vignette studies is not revealed to participants, especially if the technique is used as an indirect measure of attitudes, prejudices, and stereotypes using embedded descriptors. For example, a researcher interested in exploring stereotypes of male nurses could present people with a series of vignettes describing fictitious nurses' actions. 

    For each vignette, the nurse would be described as a male half the time (at random) and as a female the other half. Participants could then be asked to describe the fictitious nurses in terms of likableness, effectiveness, and so forth. Any differences presumably result from attitudes toward male and female nurses.


    Evaluation of Vignettes Vignettes are an economical means of eliciting information about how people might behave in situations that would be difficult to observe in daily life. For example, we might want to assess how patients feel about nurses with different personal styles of interaction. In clinical settings, it would be difficult to expose patients to different nurses who have been evaluated as having different personal styles. 

    Another advantage of vignettes is that the stimuli (the vignettes) can be manipulated experimentally by randomly assigning vignettes to groups, as in the study of nurses' triage decisions. Furthermore, vignettes often represent an interesting task for subjects. Finally, vignettes can be incorporated into questionnaires distributed by mail or over the Internet, and are therefore an inexpensive data collection strategy. 

    The principal problem with vignettes concerns the validity of responses. If respondents describe how they would react in a situation described in the vignette, how accurate is that description of their actual behavior? Thus, although the use of vignettes can be profitable, the possibility of response biases should be recognized.

Cognitive And Neuropsychological Tests 

    Nurse researchers sometimes are interested in assessing the cognitive skills of study participants. There are several different types of cognitive tests. Intelligence tests are attempts to evaluate a person's global ability to perceive relationships and solve problems. Aptitude tests are designed to measure a person's potential for achievement, usually achievement of an academic nature. In practice, the terms aptitude, intelligence, and general mental ability are often used interchangeably. 

    Of the many such tests available, some have been developed for individual (one-on-one) administration, whereas others have been developed for group use. Individual tests, such as the Stanford Binet or Wechsler IQ tests, must be administered by a person who has received training as a tester. Group tests of ability, such as the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), can be administered with little training. 

    Intelligence or aptitude tests give scores for global ability and, usually, subscores for different areas, such as quantitative, verbal, and spatial ability. Nurse researchers have been particularly likely to use ability tests in studies of high-risk groups, such as low-birth-weight children. Good sources for learning more about ability tests are the books by Anastasi and Urbina (1997) and Walsh and Betz (1995).

    Some cognitive tests are specially designed to assess neuropsychological functioning among those with potential cognitive impairments, such as the Mini-Mental Status Examination (MMSE). These tests capture varying types of competence, such as the ability to concentrate and the ability to remember. 

    Nurses have used such tests extensively in studies of elderly patients and patients with Alzheimer's disease. Nurse researchers sometimes use achievement tests designed to measure a person's present level of proficiency in a knowledge area. Because both practicing nurses and nurse educators engage in teaching, measuring instructional effectiveness is of interest to some nurse researchers. 

    Achievement tests may be standardized for use by thousands, or specially constructed to assess specific knowledge. Standardized tests are carefully developed and tested, and normally cover broad achievement objectives. The constructors of such tests establish norms, which permit comparisons between study participants and a reference group. 

    The NLN Achievement Test is an example of a standardized test. For specific learning objectives, researchers may be required to construct new tests. The development of an achievement test that is objective, accurate, and valid is a challenging task; Ebel's (1991) book, Essentials of Educational Measurement (5th ed.), is a useful reference.

  1. Main Points of Biographic Data Measurement 
  2. For certain research problems, alternatives to self-report and observation especially biophysiologic measures may be appropriate data collection techniques.
  3. Biophysiologic measures can be classified as either in vivo measurements (those performed within or on living organisms, like blood pressure measurement) or in vitro measurements (those performed outside the organism's body, such as blood tests).
  4. In vivo measures often rely on complex instrumentation systems, the components of which include the stimulus, subject, sensing equipment, signal-conditioning equipment, display equipment, and recording equipment.
  5. Biophysiologic measures have the advantage of being objective, accurate, and precise, but care must be taken in using such measures with regard to practical, technical, and ethical considerations.
  6. Existing records and documents provide an economical source of research data. Two major potential sources of bias in records are selective deposit and selective survival.
  7. Q sorts, in which people sort a set of card statements into piles according to specified criteria, can be used to measure attitudes, personality, and other psychological traits.
  8. One limitation of Q sorts is that they yield ipsative measures; the average across cards is an irrelevant basis of comparison because the forced-choice approach produces the same average for all subjects. This differs from other techniques that produce normative measures (eg, Likert scales) because each choice is independent of other choices.
  9. Projective techniques are data collection methods that rely on people's projection of psychological traits in response to vaguely structured stimuli. Pictorial methods present pictures or cartoons and ask participants for their reactions.
  10. Verbal methods present people with an ambiguous verbal stimulus rather than a picture; two types of verbal methods are word association and sentence completion. Expressive methods take the form of play, drawing, or role playing.
  11. Vignettes are brief descriptions of an event or situation to which respondents are asked to react. They are used to assess respondents' hypothetical behaviors, opinions, and perceptions.
  12. Various aspects of cognitive functioning can be measured by cognitive tests, including intelligence or aptitude, neuropsychological functioning, and achievement.

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