Normed for ages 2:6 to 4:11 (Usual age range is 2:6 to 3:5; Extended age
range is 3:6 to 4:11).
On this subtest the child copies a two- or three-dimensional design using
wooden blocks. Block Building is a measure of motor skill and visual perceptual
encoding. It requires the child to have developed the notion of copying models.
Although it is a non-verbal subtest, it may be influenced by verbal encoding
strategies. It reflects aspects of problem solving ability; visual perceptual
matching; hand-eye coordination; spatial orientation; visual motor skills; and
ability with verbal and visual cues. "Block Building was created to measure
the same abilities measured by the Copying subtest for young children not yet
able to manipulate a pencil" (Elliott, 1990b, p. 43).
There are 12 items on this subtest. All children start with item 1. For the
first item (building a tower with 8 blocks) the child’s response is scored as
2, 1, or 0 depending on the number of blocks used in the building. For the
remaining items, the child is presented with either a two- or three-dimensional
model from which to copy the design. The last 5 of the 12 items are presented as
flat (two-dimensional) designs that are more challenging because they emphasize
orientation and sequence.
Factor analytic findings
The Block Building subtest is considered a fair measure of g across all ages
(overall r = .51). Specificity is ample for the age groups.
Reliability and correlational highlights
Block Building is considered to possess low overall reliability (r = .77),
with reliability coefficients ranging from .68 to .84 across all of the five age
groups. It correlates best with Copying (r =.51)
and least with Recall of Objects (r = .14). It has a moderate correlation with
the GCA (r = .65).
In the Broad stratum definition of abilities, Block Building is considered to
be a logical measure of Visual Processing (Gv). In the Narrow stratum of
abilities, it is considered to be a probable measure of Visualization (VZ)
(McGrew & Flanagan, 1998, p. 96).
Administrative and interpretive considerations
The Block Building subtest is described on pages 67 to 71 in the DAS
Administration and Scoring Manual and discussed on pages 43 and 44 in the DAS
Introductory and Technical Handbook.
Examiners should study each design and practice building each before actually
administering this subtest to a child. Fumbling will damage rapport, risk losing
the child's attention, and penalize the child by giving an ambiguous
demonstration to imitate. The Preschool record form shows each design and its
correct orientation to the child.
According to the directions in the DAS Administration and Scoring Manual, rotations
effect the scoring only on items 2 through 12. The examiner corrects all
Second attempts at building the designs are not allowed if the error is
caused by a rotation. However, there are two situations in which the child
should be given a second attempt. First, if on item number 1, the child builds
the tower by placing the blocks on end (small side down) and fails to complete
the tower, the examiner should demonstrate the correct way to build the tower
and allow a second attempt. Score the better of the two attempts. Second, on
items 1 through 7, the structure must remain free standing for at least 3
seconds (unless the child accidentally or playfully knocks down a stable
structure). If the structure topples before 3 seconds, the examiner should allow
the child a second attempt.