Issue 1/2012, 4. Volume Page 7–19
Assessment and development of social competence: introduction to the special issue
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Social competence is regarded as an important goal of education in both family and school. As prosocial behavior presumably emerges by observing successful models, social competence can also be seen as a major qualification of parents and teachers. Developing sound instruments for the assessment of social competence constitutes the first step in studying both the development of social competence and its impact on other crucial outcomes of education and psycho-social development. The editorial section of this special issue discusses two areas of research problems. First, social competence as a comprehensive construct bears problems of definition (Herrmann, 1976) and therefore raises questions on how to gain empirical evidence on theoretically derived facets of social competence. This issue is addressed by the concepts of multi-dimensionality, personality, developmental change, and cultural context as well as the reference to different perspectives on social competence (e.g., normal vs. clinical perspective). Secondly, the demands of assessing social competence are discussed in terms of measurement methods (e.g., behavior rating vs. behavior observation), the maximization-optimization dilemma at item level, numerical vs. evidential score variation, and lack of level-II units.
Social competence; Validity; Study design