Convergent and divergent validity of the Mullen Scales of Early Learning in young children with and without autism spectrum disorder.

Published on Apr 20, 2015in Psychological Assessment
· DOI :10.1037/PAS0000116
Lauren Swineford8
Estimated H-index: 8
Whitney Guthrie13
Estimated H-index: 13
(FSU: Florida State University),
Audrey Thurm35
Estimated H-index: 35
: The purpose of this study was to report on the construct, convergent, and divergent validity of the Mullen Scales of Early Learning (MSEL), a widely used test of development for young children. The sample consisted of 399 children with a mean age of 3.38 years (SD = 1.14) divided into a group of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and a group of children not on the autism spectrum, with and without developmental delays. The study used the MSEL and several other measures assessing constructs relevant to the age range--including developmental skills, autism symptoms, and psychopathology symptoms--across multiple methods of assessment. Multiple-group confirmatory factor analyses revealed good overall fit and equal form of the MSEL 1-factor model across the ASD and nonspectrum groups, supporting the construct validity of the MSEL. However, neither full nor partial invariance of factor loadings was established because of the lower loadings in the ASD group compared with the nonspectrum group. Exploratory structural equation modeling revealed that other measures of developmental skills loaded together with the MSEL domain scores on a Developmental Functioning factor, supporting convergent validity of the MSEL. Divergent validity was supported by the lack of loading of MSEL domain scores on Autism Symptoms or Emotion/Behavior Problems factors. Although factor structure and loadings varied across groups, convergent and divergent validity findings were similar in the ASD and nonspectrum samples. Together, these results demonstrate evidence for the construct, convergent, and divergent validity of the MSEL using powerful data-analytic techniques.
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