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Recall of Digits

Normed for ages 2:6 to 17:11 (Usual age range is 3:0 to 17:11; Out of level age range is 2:6 to 2:11).

This subtest assesses short-term auditory sequential recall. The child repeats back to the examiner a sequence of digits presented orally. The items are arranged in eight "blocks" of increasingly long digit sequences. Sequences start with 2 digits and increase progressively up to 9 digits.

Factor analytic findings

The Recall of Digits subtest is considered a fair measure of g for ages 2:6 to 2:11 (r = .58) and a poor measure of g for all remaining ages (mean r = .41). Specificity is ample for all age groups 2:6 to 17:11.

Reliability and correlational highlights

Recall of Digits is considered to possess medium overall reliability (r = .87), with reliability coefficients ranging from .85 to .90 across all of the age groups. It has low correlations with all other subtests (mean r =.24) in the battery.

Gf-Gc classification

In the Broad stratum definition of abilities, Recall of Digits is considered to be a logical measure of both Short-term Memory (Gsm). In the Narrow stratum of abilities, it is considered to be a probable measure of Memory Span (MV) (McGrew & Flanagan, 1998, p. 114).

Administrative and interpretive considerations

The Recall of Digits subtest is described on pages 249 to 250 in the DAS Administration and Scoring Manual and discussed on page 66 in the DAS Introductory and Technical Handbook. This is one of the few subtests on the DAS that utilizes a basal and ceiling rule for selecting items. The basal/ceiling procedure allows the examiner to give only those items that the child has a reasonable chance of passing and does not require the child to repeat items of the same length when the expectation is that he or she would pass them with certainty. The items are arranged in eight "blocks" of increasingly long digit sequences. Each child begins with item number 1 (the item number is circled on the record form). If the or she correctly repeats the sequence the examiner proceeds to the next block, and administers the first item in that block (circled). Continue with the first item on each block until the child makes a mistake. When the child fails the first item of a block, go back to the previous block and administer the remaining items in that block. If the child fails more than 1 item in a block, continue backward until the child has no more than one failure in the block. This block becomes the basal. Test forward until the child passes no more than one item in a block. That block becomes the ceiling.

On this subtest, unlike most other DAS subtest, credit is given for items not administered below the basal.

Items are administered at a rate of two digits per second. The use of such a "fast" presentation prevents the child from using a verbal rehearsal strategy during the presentation, making the subtest a purer measure of short-term auditory memory. Examiners should practice reading digits at this rate with a metronome or clock.

There is no "digits-reversed" aspect to this subtest. A test of "digits-forward" requires different abilities than does a task of "digits-reversed." The first requires a basic short-term memory while the latter requires different processing since the child must not only remember the digits but must also manipulate (reverse) them.

Some examiners may simply score this subtest by marking whether the child got the items correct or incorrect and not take the time to accurately record how the child actually repeats back the numbers. These authors strongly suggest that examiners take the time to record verbatim the sequence of numbers that the child remembers. This information can be potentially very useful in determining if there is a generalized memory problem (remembering few numbers but in correct sequence), a sequencing problem (remembering all the correct numbers but in the wrong order), or some other potential problem.

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