Examining the concurrent validity of visual and auditory attention tasks of the D-KEFS, NEPSY, and WJ III COG using structural equation modeling
Attention is a broad cognitive function that is thought to be a foundational skill necessary for all other neurocognitive operations. Differences in theoretical orientations have led to a lack of consensus regarding a specific definition of attention. Because attention theories have a direct impact upon cognitive assessments, continued debate has resulted in a failure to establish appropriate tasks which measure attention constructs. The purpose of this study was to determine the concurrent validity of the attention subscales of three commonly administered neurocognitive instruments: the Woodcock Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities (WJ III COG; Woodcock, McGrew, & Mather, 2001c; Woodcock et al., 2007), the NEPSY: A Development Neuropsychological Assessment (Korkman, Kirk, & Kemp, 1998), and the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS; Delis, Kaplan, & Kramer, 2001). Additionally, this study examined the underlying factor structure of the D-KEFS, NEPSY, and WJ III COG, and their fit with four theories of attention. The four theories which were analyzed are Mirsky and colleagues' (1991) model of attention, the Cattell-Horn-Carroll model of cognitive abilities (CHC theory; McGrew, 2005), the Conceptual Model for School Neuropsychological Assessment (SNP model; Miller, 2007, 2010), and a model which examines tasks based on auditory and visual modalities. Data was extracted from archival case studies submitted to the KIDS, Inc.'s School Neuropsychology Post-Graduate Certification Program, which included a mixed clinical sample of children, age 8 through 12. Correlations were utilized to determine relationships among attention subtests. Some evidence demonstrated similar internal consistency of the attention subtests within both the WJ III COG and the NEPSY. Less evidence was provided in support of the internal validity of the D-KEFS. Relationships between the theories and attention subtests were examined using structural equation modeling. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was conducted to determine how well the various attention theories fit with the attention subtests. Results from the CFA, demonstrated the model which assessed attention using visual and auditory modalities indicated the best fit with the sample data when compared to the other models. Limitations of the current investigation as well as suggestions for future studies are also discussed.