Using Multi-Modal Bio-Digital Technologies to Support the Assessment of Cognitive Abilities of Children with Physical and Neurological Impairments
Gan, Hock Chye
Current studies done using a learning test for children have problems as they only make evaluations of Physically and Neurologically Impaired (PNI) children who can succeed in the test and can be considered as a PASS/FAIL test. This pilot study takes a holistic view of cognitive testing of PNI children using a user-test-device triad model and provides a framework using non-PNI children and adults as controls. Comparisons using adapted off-the-shelf novel interfaces to the computer, in particular, an Electroencephalograph (EEG) head-set, an eye-tracker and a head-tracker and a common mouse were carried out. In addition, two novel multi-modal technologies were developed based on the use of brain-waves and eye-tracking as well as head-tracking technologies to support the study. The devices were used on three tests with increasing cognitive complexity. A self-developed measure based on success streaks (consecutive outcomes) was introduced to improve evaluations of PNI children. A theoretical model regarding a fit of ability to devices was initially setup and finally modified to fit the view of the empirical model that emerged from the outcomes of the study. Results suggest that while multi-modal technologies can address weaknesses of the individual component modes, a compromise is made between the user’s ability for multi-tasking between the modes and the benefits of a multi-modal device but the sample size is very small. Results also show children failing a test with a mouse but passing it subsequently when direct communication is used suggesting that a device can affect a test for children who are of a developing age. This study provides a framework for a more meaningful conversation between educational psychologists as well as other professionals and PNI parents because it provides more discrimination of outcomes in cognitive tests for PNI children. The framework provides a vehicle that addresses scientifically the concerns of parents and schools.