Normed for ages 3:0 to 17:11 (Usual age range is 3:6 to 17:11; Out of level
age range is 3:0 to 3:5).
This subtest assesses visual-spatial ability; perception of spatial
orientation; analysis of visual data; and nonverbal reasoning. The presentation
booklet is two-dimensional while blocks are three-dimensional. The task requires
the child to make a two-dimensional construction while ignoring the third
Young children create designs using foam squares with sides of black or
yellow. Older children use three-dimensional blocks with sides that are black,
yellow, black and yellow divided diagonally, and black and yellow divided
vertically. Items begin as two-block patterns and increase to 9 block patterns.
Daniel (1986) found that flat squares and cubic blocks measured the same ability
with a group of sixth grade children. Elliott (1990b, p. 48) determined that,
for younger children, the flat squares were less confusing.
This subtest can be scored in one of two ways, Standard and Alternative (Unspeeded).
Standard scoring is dependent upon both speed and accuracy, while Alternative (Unspeeded)
is dependent solely on accuracy, although time limits are still enforced.
The Pattern Construction subtest contains a total of 26 items. Items are
generally scored from a minimum (failure) of 0 points to a maximum (correct
reconstruction with bonus points for speed) in the Standard administration. In
the Alternative (Unspeeded) administration, scoring is pass-fail (2 points for
first trial, 1 for second trial, when available, and 0 for failure or exceeding
the time limit). Three different starting points are available (age 3:0 to 6:11
start at sample A and item 1; 7:0 to 12:11 start at sample C and item 8; 13:0 to
17:11 start at sample D and item 14). There is a typographical error on p. 221
in at least some printings of the Manual. The starting-point samples are wrong
for two ages and should be the same as above and the same as those shown on p.
210 and in the protocol. The last three items are provided for those cases in
which the examiner chooses to score the subtest using the untimed, alternative
Factor analytic findings
The Pattern Construction subtest is considered a fair measure of g across all
ages (overall r = .65). For ages 3 to 11, it has fair g loadings, while from
ages 12 to 17, it is considered to have good g loadings. This subtest
contributes substantially to the Spatial factor (loading = .82). Specificity is
ample for all age groups 6:0 to 17:11.
Reliability and correlational highlights
Pattern Construction is considered to possess high overall reliability (r =
.91), with reliability coefficients ranging from .80 to .93 across all of the
age groups It correlates best with Recall of
Designs (r =.57) and least with Recall of Objects (r = .15). It has a
moderate correlation with the GCA (r = .77).
In the Broad stratum definition of abilities, Pattern Construction 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 Spatial
relations (SR) and a possible measure of Visualization (VZ) (McGrew &
Flanagan, 1998, p. 106).
Administrative and interpretive considerations
The Pattern Construction subtest is described on pages 210 to 221 in the DAS
Administration and Scoring Manual and discussed on pages 48 to 50 and 57 in
the DAS Introductory and Technical Handbook. The record form has helpful
notations for all items -- M, P, or D -- referring to the method for presenting
the items to the child: Model (M) refers to the examiner building the pattern in
front of the child and then leaving the completed model in place while the child
builds his or her pattern. Picture (P) refers to showing the child a picture of
the pattern from either Booklet 2 (items 1 through 7) or booklet 1 (sample c
through item 26) and leaving the picture in full view while the child completes
the pattern. Finally, Demonstrate (D) refers to those cases in which the
examiner builds the pattern using the child’s own blocks, and then mixes the
pattern up and has the child try again. In five specific cases, there are
multiple notations, so that, for example, "M, P" for item 1 means that
the examiner creates the model as well as shows the picture to the child.
Some children try to complete the patterns by building their designs directly
on top of the model or the picture. On early items, this strategy may be
helpful, but on later items, where the picture is much smaller than the blocks
themselves, the use of this strategy results in their actually covering up the
pictures they are trying to copy. If this is the case, the child should be
encouraged to make the patterns on the table directly in front of the child.
Although rotations of 30 degrees or more are scored as 0, in all cases that
rotations occur the examiner should show the child the rotation and indicate how
the pattern should have been made.
Timing is important on this subtest since, since in the timed administration
bonus points are given for successful completion within certain time frames.
Timing of the subtest begins when the examiner finishes with the instructions
and continues until the child has completed the item. Because many children
often do not tell the examiner when they are done, examiners should watch the
construction carefully and note the time at which the pattern is successfully
completed. Stop the watch when the child indicates by word or gesture, that he
or she is complete. If the child has not changed the design successfully
completed earlier, give credit for the earlier time.
The DAS Pattern Construction subtest allows for an Alternative (Unspeeded)
administration. If the examiner feels that the imposition of the strict time
limits is not a fair or valid procedure (e.g., a motor impairment prevents
speedy manipulation of the blocks or the child is a slow, thoughtful worker) the
Alternative scoring procedure can be utilized. In this case, examiners should
refer to the Alternative starting, decision, and stopping points on p. 221 of
the Manual and in the record form. In general, if one chooses to score with the
Alternative procedure, more items must be administered. Items 24-26 are
administered only as part of Alternative scoring. According to the Manual
(Elliott, 1990a. pp. 210, 220) The choice between the Standard and Alternative
administrations need not be made in advance. However, because the examiner must
administer any needed additional items the decision must at least be
contemplated before completing the subtest.
The Alternative (Unspeeded) procedure is a valuable option. Like the
Stanford-Binet, 4th ed. (SB: FE), and unlike the Wechsler scales with
their heavy emphasis on speed (see Chapters XX and XX ), the Alternative
procedure offers more valid assessment of the abilities of students who, for any
reason work slowly.
The decision points for the Pattern Construction subtest may at first appear
a bit confusing: <3 with less than maximum score: Continue; <3 First-trial
Passes: Go Back. This is the 3 by 3 rule with the slight twist that failure is
not a requirement. In order to discontinue at the decision point, a child needs
to pass (with any amount of credit) 3 items and additionally must obtain less
than perfect (not necessarily zero) scores on 3 items. These authors have
found that placing some mark in the margin next to the scoring table on the
record form helps to keep track of any less than perfect (e.g., 3 points on an
item for which 4 points are possible) scores. If it is found that there are only
1 or 2 marks (<3 with less than maximum) this signals us to continue testing
through the next block.