Assignment: Describing a Normative Sample

Assignment: Describing a Normative Sample

Assignment: Describing a Normative Sample

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Describing a Normative Sample

When it comes to the use of psychological tests, one approach that both researchers and clinicians take in trying to understand participants’ performance is a norm-referenced approach. With a norm-referenced test, the test is given to a large, representative group of participants known as the “normative sample” (a.k.a. “norm group”). Then, the scores of all subsequent test-takers are compared to the scores of the norm group. In order for the norm group to be a valid comparison group, it has to be representative of the population who will be taking the test.

So how do we know if the normative sample is representative? When summarizing the psychometric properties of a test, test developers and publishers usually describe the norm group with their demographic variables. Demographic variables are characteristics of the participants like: gender, age, ethnicity, relationship status, socioeconomic status, religious affiliation etc. A description of the normative sample allows examinersto decide if the test of interest can be used with their intended examinees. For example, if the normative sample were 95% male, then you likely could not logically compare their scores to females test takers! That is why readers need to know what the normative sample looks like.

The purpose of the current assignment is for you to provide a verbal (and graphical)description of a fictional normative sample of research participants.

In the Assignment Instructions folder, there is an SPSS data file that will be the basis for your analyses. The data provided are fictional and were created solely for the purposes of our SPSS assignments. This data file includes: 1) demographic information for a normative sample of 428 participants, and 2) participants’ scores on a test called the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D scale).

The CES-D Scale is utilized to measure symptoms of depression. It is a self-assessment that is completed by the individual. The CES-D contains 20items rated on a 4-point scale (0 = Rarely or None of the Time to 3 = Most or All of the Time). The phrase “During the past week…” prefaces the questions in order to emphasize current depressive mood. Scores on the total scale are summed and can range from 0 to 60. Traditionally, individuals with scores over 16 are identified as “depressed” (Weissman, et al., 1977), though due to high false positive rates, a score of 27 is considered a more useful cut-off (Zich, et al., 1990). The full scale can be accessed at: Items 4, 8, 12, and 16 are worded in reverseto avoid response set (i.e., “yay-saying” or “nay saying”). The CES-D includes four subscales—depressive affect, well-being, somatic, and interpersonal—that assess specific features of depressive symptomology. Several studies have validated the four subscales across a variety of subgroups (Hertzog et al., 1990; Knight et al., 1997).

With this first SPSS assignment, you will learn how to go from raw demographic data to describing a normative sample in an APA-formatted reportJ

For this assignment, you will:

1. Calculate descriptive statistics and create appropriate graphs for three (3) of the demographic variables presented in the SPSS data file.

2. Create a table (or tables) showing the most appropriate descriptive statistics for the three (3) demographic variables that you chose. The descriptive statistics that you report will depend on the type of variables that you have selected (categorical vs. continuous). Be sure to format your table headings according to current APA guidelines.

3. Create the most appropriate graphs for the three (3) variables that you selected. Again, the graphs that you present will depend on the type of variables that you have selected (categorical vs. continuous). Be sure to format your figure captions according to current APA guidelines.

4. Write a verbal summary. This summary section will include 2 elements:

a. First, describe the normative sample based on the descriptive statistics that you calculated for the three demographic variables that you chose. See the sample assignment posted in Bb for guidance on how to describe the sample.

b. Second, explain why it is an ethical imperative for us, as Christians doing research/clinical work, to describe and evaluate the demographic characteristics of the sample we are using as a comparison group for other test takers. Include in your rationale a discussion of the issue of representativeness, as well as at least one scriptural citation that supports your line of reasoning.

Be sure to carefully review the Grading Rubric posted in the Assignment Instructions folder so that you know exactly what is expected of you when completing this assignment.

This assignment is due by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Monday of Module/Week 2.


Hertzog, C.; Van Alstine, J.; Usala, P.D.; Hultsch, D.F.; &Dixon, R. (1990). Measurement properties of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) in older populations.Psychological Assessment: A Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2(1), 64-72. doi: 10.1037/1040-3590.2.1.64

Knight, R. G., Williams, S., McGee, R., & Olaman, S. (1997). Psychometric properties of the

Centre for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) in a sample of women in

middle life. Behavior, Research, and Therapy, 35(4), 373–380.doi:10.1016/S0005-


Weissman, M. M., Sholomskas, D., Pottenger, M., et al. (1977). Assessing depressive symptoms in five psychiatric populations: a validation study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 106, 203–214.

Zich, J. M., C. C. Attkisson, & Greenfield, T.K. (1990). Screening for depression in primary care clinics: the CES-D and the BDI. International Journal of Psychiatry and Medicine, 20(3), 259–277.

Answer Preview

There are several of the demographic variables are present in the considered dataset. To make my life easy I choose the easiest three variables which are “Age” “Gender” and “Ethnicity”.

Note that here age is a quantitative variable thus the usual descriptive statistics and histogram of box plot would be most appropriate for age.

On the other hand the Gender and Ethnicity are qualitative variables (nominal scaled) thus the frequency table and a Pie Chart or Bar chart would be most appropriate for these variables.

The obtained tables and the related graphs are given below

You must proofread your paper. But do not strictly rely on your computer’s spell-checker and grammar-checker; failure to do so indicates a lack of effort on your part and you can expect your grade to suffer accordingly. Papers with numerous misspelled words and grammatical mistakes will be penalized. Read over your paper – in silence and then aloud – before handing it in and make corrections as necessary. Often it is advantageous to have a friend proofread your paper for obvious errors. Handwritten corrections are preferable to uncorrected mistakes.

Use a standard 10 to 12 point (10 to 12 characters per inch) typeface. Smaller or compressed type and papers with small margins or single-spacing are hard to read. It is better to let your essay run over the recommended number of pages than to try to compress it into fewer pages.

Likewise, large type, large margins, large indentations, triple-spacing, increased leading (space between lines), increased kerning (space between letters), and any other such attempts at “padding” to increase the length of a paper are unacceptable, wasteful of trees, and will not fool your professor.

The paper must be neatly formatted, double-spaced with a one-inch margin on the top, bottom, and sides of each page. When submitting hard copy, be sure to use white paper and print out using dark ink. If it is hard to read your essay, it will also be hard to follow your argument.


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