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THE LSMA

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  • overview
  • putting the LSMA to work
  • individual report
  • summary report
  • client tools
  • psychometrics
  • FAQ
  • learn more

Overview

meditatingThe LSMA (Lectical Solloway Mindfulness Assessment) is an assessment of how practitioners understand six concepts that are central to most mindfulness traditions: (1) emotion, the way in which individuals understand what mindfulness practitioners mean when they speak of suffering and joy (2) awareness, the way in which individuals understand what mindfulness practitioners mean when they talk about being aware of thoughts, feelings, or sensations without getting caught up in them (3) control, the way in which individuals understand what mindfulness practitioners mean when they talk about pausing to consider the possible consequences of actions (4) insight, the way in which individuals understand what mindfulness practitioners mean when they claim that their practice yields insight (5) nonjudgmentalness, and the way in which individuals understand what mindfulness practitioners mean when they talk about letting go of judgmentalness (6) transformation.

the way in which individuals understand what mindfulness practitioners mean when they claim that anger or hurt can be transformed into compassion

It is one of a set of three mindfulness assessments, each of which is designed to measure a different aspect of mindfulness experience. The other assessments in this trio are the SMS (Solloway Mindfulness Survey), which is a self-report assessment of individual' experiences with intentional attention, and the SMJ (Solloway Mindfulness Journal), in which individuals reflect about their mindfulness experience. As a Lectical® Assessment, the LSMA focuses less on practitioners' experience of mindfulness and more on how they understand their experience—what it means to them. LSMA responses are scored with a rubric a system for awarding scores to written responses that involves choosing from a list of descriptions that represent thinking at different phases of development that's calibrated to the Lectical® Scale, a developmental scale composed of 14 levels—0 (birth) to 13 (Einstein)—each of which is divided into four phases.

Test-takers respond to a series of six questions, each of which is associated with one of the six LSMA themes. These questions are randomly selected from a pool of items, such that test-takers respond to a different set of questions each time they take the assessment. Here is a sample question:

“What does it mean to you to observe your experiences while participating in them? Explain. Describe a situation in which you attempted to observe your experiences while participating in them.”

Select from the tabs on the left to learn more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Putting the LSMA to work

reportThe LSMA provides a reliable measure of experienced and inexperienced mindfulness practitoners' understanding of key mindfulness concepts, including: (1) emotion, the way in which individuals understand what mindfulness practitioners mean when they speak of suffering and joy (2) awareness, the way in which individuals understand what mindfulness practitioners mean when they talk about being aware of thoughts, feelings, or sensations without getting caught up in them (3) control, the way in which individuals understand what mindfulness practitioners mean when they talk about pausing to consider the possible consequences of actions (4) insight, the way in which individuals understand what mindfulness practitioners mean when they claim that their practice yields insight (5) nonjudgmentalness, and the way in which individuals understand what mindfulness practitioners mean when they talk about letting go of judgmentalness (6) transformation.

the way in which individuals understand what mindfulness practitioners mean when they claim that anger or hurt can be transformed into compassion

The LSMA can support your work in a number of ways:

  1. Taking the LSMA is a reflective activity that draws a learner's attention to ways of thinking that are central to mindfulness practice.
  2. LSMA reports are an objective source of information about the development of key mindfulness concepts. When used in conjunction with other measures like the SMS (Solloway Mindfulness Survey) and SMJ (Solloway Mindfulness Journal)—they can provide useful insights into the relation between understanding mindfulness concepts and the quality of mindfulness experience.
  3. LSMA test-taker reports support educational efforts by helping learners to explore their current conceptions, then scaffolding their growth to the next level.
  4. LSMA summary reports make it possible to monitor group results or trace the development of learners over time, with real-time, presentation-quality graphics that can be used to populate reports or support individual or classroom discussion.

The LSMA is designed to function as an embedded, Embedded assessments are used as part of a lesson plan, like a written assignment might be used to help learners organize what they are learning. diagnostic, and Diagnostic assessments are used to find out what people already know or have learned, so the instructor can shape lessons to learner needs. formative Formative assessments are tests that are learning experiences in their own right, often because they provide rich, actionable feedback or support reflective engagement. assessment. By integrating the LSMA into pedagogy and practice, educators can diagnose and respond to individual learners' needs in real time. It is employed as a formative assessment in one-on-one coaching and in the classroom. It also functions as a summative assessment in research and program evaluation contexts.

Coaches and educators

One-on-one coaching: The LSMA helps educators customize their approach to fit the skill sets and learning needs of individuals by providing sophisticated diagnostics and detailed information about the depth of learners’ understanding, as well as richly educative feedback to catalyze their growth.

Classroom use: The LSMA can help you meet the learning needs of individuals, no matter how large the group. Our reports highlight individual differences and provide tailored learning suggestions. They also monitor group level effects, such as the overall impact of your educational efforts. This combination of individual and group-level reporting provides a multidimensional view of learning, deepening your insights into individual learners while letting you know when it might be beneficial to adjust your learning goals or instructional approach. In other words, the LSMA facilitates what we call instructional dynamic steering™—the ability to shape instruction dynamically to meet the changing needs of individual learners. 

Researchers

The LSMA is ideal for program evaluation, basic research, and action research:

Program evaluation: Problem- and skill-focused mindfulness initiatives are proliferating rapidly, yet good measures of the skills these programs are intended to foster are more than rare—they are virtually nonexistent. With its focus on core mindfulness concepts, the LSMA is tailor-made for evaluating programs of this kind.

Basic research: When we code the LSMA, we make several decisions about the content of performances, each of which is recorded as a data point. We use these data to calculate scale scores and populate reports. For researchers, they are a gold mine, making it possible to address many questions about the effects of mindfulness or mindfulness programs. We work with graduate students and other researchers as part of our quest to see that these questions are asked. And if you’re interested in collecting your own data, our flexible client tools and well-organized assessment administration procedures can accommodate a wide variety of quasi-experimental designs with ease.

Action research: Many mindfulness researchers want their work to benefit the systems and individuals they are studying. By integrating the LSMA into pedagogy and practice, educator-researchers can diagnose the learning needs of individuals in real time while simultaneously conducting research on the development of concepts and skills that are the focus of instruction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The individual report

reportLectical assessments are distinguished by the quality and educational value of their feedback. To create a Lectical Assessment, we work with domain experts to identify core skills and concepts, use what we learn to develop initial research instruments, then study how the skills and concepts targeted by the assessment develop over time, using a research methodology called developmental maieutics. The approach allows us to describe what targeted skills and concepts "look like" in each developmental phase, and to craft feedback and learning suggestions that are specific to each phase of performance.

In addition to general feedback related to the phase of a given performance, LSMA reports, which are delivered online, include comments on strengths and areas for growth, interpretations of scale scores, and targeted learning recommendations. For example, reports not only describe how test-takers appear to understand a concept when they took an assessment, but show them how they are likely to understand it at the next phase. For each question on the LSMA, learners receive feedback like the following (for the awareness construct):

awareness feedback

carrot and stickFeedback of this kind is designed to entice learners with knowledge that’s “just right”—knowledge that’s in what Dr. Dawson calls the carrot zone or sweet spot. “Just right” knowledge is just beyond what a person already knows—far enough to look interesting, but not so far away that it’s inaccessible.

Reports are generally delivered within 10 business days. We send an email notification each time an assessment is finalized.

Check it out

Below are two log-ins that will allow you to view samples of LSMA reports. The first is for a test taker called Jane Smith, a fictional test taker who has taken 3 assessments. If you log in as Jane, you will be able to see her LSMA reports. The second is for a fictional client named Ann Brown, Jane's instructor. If you log in as Ann, you will be able to view a Summary Report (of Jane's results).

Jane Smith: username=janesmith, password=janesmith

Ann Brown: username=annbrown, password=annbrown

Note: These log-ins can be used to view reports and to explore test-taker and client applications. They should not be used to take an actual assessment.

 

 

 

 

 

The summary report

In addition to providing individual reports for our assessments, we offer a dynamic summary report that shows group trends. This report, which is delivered online, allows you to examine change over time on different constructs, or examine the relation between scores and various demographic variables. The report features presentation quality charts that can be customized in real time, based on your needs. The information in summary reports can be used to guide instruction, monitor program effectiveness, and examine performance across groups. For example, the chart below shows Lectical Scores by test time for control and training groups.

Score by test time and group

Check it out

Below are two log-ins that will allow you to view samples of LSMA reports. The first is for a test-taker called Jane Smith, a fictional test-taker who has taken 3 assessments. If you log in as Jane, you will be able to see her individual reports. The second is for a fictional client named Ann Brown, Jane's instructor/coach. If you log in as Ann, you will be able to view a summary report (of Jane's results).

Jane Smith (test taker): username=janesmith, password=janesmith

Ann Brown (coach): username=annbrown, password=annbrown

Note: These log-ins can be used to view reports and to explore the test-taker and client applications. They should not be used to take an actual assessment.

 

 

 

 

 

Client tools

We offer a set of client tools that streamline a number of assessment managment tasks, including:

  1. registering test takers,
  2. assigning test takers to groups,
  3. creating and sending out assessment assignments,
  4. monitoring test-taking activity,
  5. maintaining test-taker accounts, and
  6. communicating with test takers.

We can also customize these tools to meet your particular needs. To learn more about client tools, please contact us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reliability and validity

Scores on our developmental scale (the Lectical® Scale), are determined with the Lectical Assessment System (the LAS) or with rubrics a system for awarding scores to written responses that involves choosing from a list of descriptions that represent thinking at different phases of development that have been calibrated to the Lectical Scale. This scale is composed of 14 levels—0 (birth) to 13 (Einstein)—each of which is divided into four phases. It is a non-arbitrary research-based developmental scale with excellent measurement properties. The reliability (internal consistency) of Lectical scores ranges from .95–.98, and inter-rater agreement is maintained at a minimum of 85% within 1/5 of a Lectical level. In plain English, this means that the Lectical scale reliably distinguishes 8–12 adult developmental "phases", where each phase represents 1/4 of a level.

validity and reliability

Reasearch on the LAS has addressed four forms of construct validity: predictive, the extent to which performance on an assessment predicts behavior in the real world convergent/divergent, the extent to which one measure of a given dimension does the same thing as another measure of the same (or a different) dimension ecological, and the extent to which an assessment measures things that are of value in real life (The ecological validity of the LSMA is apparent in the relevance of (1) its content; (2) the skills required to complete it; and (3) the scores and feedback provided in its reports.) measure validity. the extent to which moving from one level to the next is the same, no matter which two levels you are looking at (as in, "All inches are exactly the same length", or "moving from level 2 to level 3 is just like moving from level 3 to 4".) The LAS is based on a strong theory of development called Dynamic Skill Theory, and has been submitted to a number of rigorous tests of its ability to capture the developmental construct described in that theory. These tests have shown that the LAS does a very good job capturing this dimension. To view the evidence, see the refereed papers on the articles tab on the literature page and articles by our colleagues on the decision making references page.

For an in-depth explanation of our approach to validity and reliability, we suggest that you read our information page on the validity and reliability of the LAS. To learn more about reliability and validity as constructs, see Dr. Dawson's blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FAQ

What is a developmental assessment?

A developmental assessment is a test of knowledge and thinking that is based on extensive research into how people come to learn specific concepts and skills over time. All good developmental assessments require test-takers to show their thinking by making written or oral arguments that support their judgments. Developmental assessments examine how people use their knowledge and thinking skills to solve problems. Typically, there are no “right” answers in a developmental assessment.

Our developmental assessments test thinking in specific areas of knowledge, such as leadership decision making, moral reasoning, or physics. Within each area of knowledge, the ability to work with complexity increases in a systematic way. Over the last 20 years, we have developed a system for measuring this growth reliably and accurately.

Our assessments are developmental because they identify where a person’s current reasoning fits in the sequence of skill development for the area of knowledge being assessed. This requires understanding the sequences and descriptions of successive levels of skill or understanding in a particular area of knowledge pathways the alternate routes people can take toward mastery of a concept or skill through which skills develop. Lectica is able to meet this objective because we have collected and analyzed thousands of clinical interviews and written responses, gradually building the knowledge base required to understand how specific skills develop over time in specific areas of knowledge. This research is widely published in peer reviewed journals, books, and on the web. To learn more, go to our literature page.

What does Lectical® mean?

Lectical is taken from the word, dialectical, which refers to a process for determining the “truth” by exchanging logical arguments. Our reference to this term is a celebration of the philosopher, Hegel, who proposed a dialogical truth building process with three repeating steps—thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Many scholars think of development as a kind of natural dialectic, in that it results from feedback-rich interactions between an individual and the environment that change the way the individual thinks or behaves.

So, to recognize Hegel and the dialogical nature of development, we named our developmental scoring system the Lectical® Assessment System (LAS), and we call assessments that are developed or scored with the LAS, Lectical® Assessments.

What is a Lectical® Asssessment?

At Lectica, we specialize in designing and administering developmental assessments called Lectical® assessments. Lectical assessments are a major advance over conventional assessments, because they not only determine (1) what test takers know, but also (2) how well they apply their knowledge in real-world situations, and (3) what they need to learn next to advance to the next level of skill.

How does a Lectical Assessment work?

Lectical assessments are designed to measure the degree of cognitive complexity that underlies thinking—how much people can see and hold, and how much and how well they can elaborate, integrate, coordinate, and communicate what they see.

The Lectical Score is an index of the level of complexity demonstrated in a person’s performance. It provides information about the skill with which a person uses his or her knowledge to think about an issue. This is fundamentally different from most assessments, which focus primarily on factual knowledge or the application of learned procedures.

Lectical Assessments include other scores, which we call scale scores. These are based on the particular concepts and ideas expressed in a performance, and allow us to provide specific information about a test taker’s performance on specific sub-skills or themes.

What kind of information does a Lectical assessment provide?

At Lectica we believe that a good test should provide more than an accurate score. It should also support development. Lectical Assessments support development in two ways. First, they are learning experiences in their own right, drawing attention to important ideas and issues, and providing an opportunity for thoughtful reflection. Second, each assessment is accompanied by a report that is tailored to the learning needs of the individual test taker. Your clients (students, employees) will learn what they’ve accomplished, what comes next, and how to get there. And our summary reports allow you to view group results or follow test takers over time, with real-time, presentation quality data and graphics.

Learn more about Lectical® Assessments

To learn more about using Lectical Assessments, please contact us.

For more about our research and methods, we suggest the following links from our In Plainer English collection.

Virtuous cycles of learning (a white paper about the learning model upon which our assessment strategy is based)

How to take a Lectical Assessment (instructions for writing responses to assessment questions)

Introduction to the LAS (Lectical Assessment System)

A comparison of the LAS with other scoring systems

About measurement

Developmental maieutics

Constructing developmental sequences

Our levels and theirs (Table aligning lectical levels with the levels of other cognitive-developmental assessment systems)

If you are very curious (or academically inclined), you may also want to read some of the refereed articles on the "articles" tab on our literature page.