KAI and Teenagers

– M. Tefft

Many of the KAI network have expressed an interest in using KAI in educational research at the secondary level, but wondered whether the measure’s robust reliability found with general population samples of literate, work experienced adults would be maintained with the younger populations. From work I have done with Dr Kirton, we are delighted to report, after examination of a number of studies with secondary school kids (ages 13-18) that the KAI can be successfully used with younger populations when certain guidelines are carefully followed.

Perhaps the most obvious factor affecting the reliability of KAI with teenagers is maturity. We have found that with careful administration, dependable total KAI scores can be obtained from as young as 15 years of age (SO, E and R factor scores should generally be ignored in the non-adult population). Below the age of 15 intelligence begins to play a role and only those younger secondary pupils who are of above average intelligence will have the vocabulary and self-awareness necessary to be able to answer the items consistently. We do not recommend the use of KAI with anyone under the age of 13.

Administration appears to be the other big influence on the reliability of KAI with teenagers. If the individual actually administering the inventory to youngsters is not familiar with both the classroom environment and the administration of psychometric measures, there is an increase in the rejection rate and decrease in the internal reliability of KAI across all age groups.

No matter how mature the pupils or how experienced the administrator, any study with teenagers will need to allow for some higher wastage rate than with adults – but with care this is not stop it use with these groups.

Editor’s Note:

What we learnt, from this and the other earlier studies, is that style plays the same role in these young minds and lives as it does with adults.

M. Tefft, Occupational Research Centre

Originally published in KAI News, 1994