Assessment of Natural Play for Instructional Planning

Play is a natural activity that young children use to explore and learn about their world, and how to function in it. Young children with delays in cognition, language, and social interaction show delays and limitations in their play activities that correspond to their other delays and therefore do not benefit in the same way as children without disabilities. The central premise of the Developmental Play Assessment (DPA) instrument is that instructional goals for infants, toddlers, and young children with disabilities, or at risk for disabilities, should include attention to developments in play as well as to developments in other domains. The DPA was designed as a tool to generate a profile of a child’s skills in play for the purposes of guiding instructional planning.

This project seeks to (a) adapt the research version of the Developmental Play Assessment- Research (DPA-R) into a user-friendly version for practitioners (Development Play Assessment-Practitioners); and (b) evaluate the psychometric properties and practical feasibility of the Developmental Play Assessment-Practitioners (DPA-P).

Researchers will select and recruit 820 children, with and without disabilities, ranging in age from 8 to 60 months, and conduct longitudinal follow-up of about 217 of these children. Children’s play behaviors observed during study sessions will be recorded and coded into play categories that are organized into a developmental sequence. This sequence will be validated, and the reliability and validity of the checklist for practitioners developed from this work will be assessed.

The main product will be a fully developed and validated assessment for practitioners to use to assess children’s play skills for instructional purposes. Supporting documentation, evidence on the validity and reliability of the DPA-P, and an on-line package for training practitioners to use the instrument will also be available.


Completed on April 30, 2013

Contact Information

Takuya Minami