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What children do on the playground: a Rasch analysis approach to measurement on the playground




Grady, Patricia, author
Bundy, Anita, advisor
Eakman, Aaron, committee member
Hepburn, Susan, committee member

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Given the many benefits of play and children's right to play, as established by the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990), researchers interested in play have designed a multitude of interventions that aim to support children's engagement in this primary occupation. The school playground is a natural context for these play interventions. Because of the play deficits often associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability (ID), many interventions target these populations. However, review of current literature suggests that researchers are limited by the lack of measurement tools to quantitatively analyze what children do together during a playground session. In this study, I present a Rasch analysis-based measure of what children do on the playground. In this measure, the playground session itself is the unit of analysis – this allows play promoters to compare playground sessions before and after an intervention, under different weather conditions, or with different groups of children. This measure was developed based on observation data collected in the context of a larger study aimed to promote playground play for children with ASD and ID. Through Rasch analysis, I demonstrate preliminary validity and reliability of data collected using this observation-based instrument. The findings of this study suggest that observation-based playground measurement tools can effectively quantify play and non-play sophistication.


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intellectual disability
occupational therapy
outdoor play


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