Relationships between Kinarm Standard Tests and School Success in Secondary Students

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Hale, Julia
education , Kinarm , Developmental Coordination Disorder , Learning Difference , Movement Measure
The complex nature of neurodiverse high school students requires access to information on many fronts. One area for assessment which has been largely ignored in the Ontario public school system is assessment of co-ordination and movement tasks. A diagnosis of developmental coordination disorder has been shown, in research, to consistently share a comorbidity of 50% with many common learning differences (Zwicker et al., 2012), despite this very few students will receive this diagnosis (Blank et al., 2019). This is partly due to the lack of standard assessment tools and criteria (Ricci et al., 2019). The Kinarm, a robotic assessment tool of upper body coordination, is a quick and objective measure of sensory, motor and cognitive functions (Dukelow et al., 2010). This research explores the use of the Kinarm as an assessment tool for high school students by examining: 1) how do Kinarm task parameters correlate to each other, 2) if there is a relationship between Kinarm task parameters and school success measures, and 3) if there is a relationship between Kinarm task parameters and a previously diagnosed learning disability or neurological disorder. Thirty-eight high school students completed the Kinarm assessment between April and December 2019. Data were also collected through a series of cognitive tasks as well as academic and testing scores from the participants’ Ontario Student Record. Visual exploratory analysis was conducted along with Pearson correlations (1-tailed). Despite a small sample size and limited number of neurodiverse participants this research showed moderate correlation between a variety of co-ordination tasks and cognitive/school scores. Kinarm tasks which showed the highest correlations were Ball on Bar, Object Hit, Object Hit and Avoid, and Trail Making. The two school measures with highest correlations were Rapid Digit Naming and TOWRE Word Reading. The correlations remained moderate after controlling for speed and continued to be evident after an adjustment for false discovery rate. Overall, this research confirms a relationship between co-ordination and measures of school success. It confirms the feasibility of using a robotic assessment with high school students. Future studies can explore the use of Kinarm with a larger sample size and larger number of exceptional learners. More detailed physical profiles of coordination for exceptional learners could focus movement interventions on specific areas of need, in order to increase their effectiveness.
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