NCDS – Child of CM (Multi-Age) – MCSA Verbal Memory Subscale

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The 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS) assessed the children of a sub-sample of cohort members (CMs) using the McCarthy Scale of Children’s Abilities (MSCA): Verbal Memory Subscale.

The child assessments included in the NCDS5 Child Interview (conducted when the CM was aged 33) applied only to the natural or adopted children of CMs aged 3 years, 11 months, and 16 days or older. Some 3,575 (71 percent) of the cohort children identified were eligible for the Child Interview. The tests were based on those used by the US National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) for their 1990 survey of the children of female respondents. These tests were developed in the US and a number of changes (mainly substituting terminology) were made to individual assessments for use in the NCDS.

Prior to administering these tests, the interviewer calculated the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT) age of the child (actual age rounded up or down to the nearest whole month) to establish, if the child was eligible for testing, which tests would be administered and, for some tests, the appropriate starting point of the test. Time at start and completion (24 hour clock) was calculated using the following variables: n520128 n520130 n521935 n521937.

The MSCA: Verbal Memory Subscale is intended for administration to children aged between 3 years and 6 years 11 months. Details on this measure as applied to the NCDS sub-sample and the data collected are outlined in the table below.


Domain:Verbal (vocabulary)
Measures:Short term verbal memory
CHC:Gsm (Short-term memory)
Administrative method:Interviewer at home; face to face; interviewer reads and child recalls out loud.
Procedure:The child repeated words or sentences read to them by the interviewer. The interviewer read a story and the child retold the essential elements.
Link to questionnaire:https://cls.ucl.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Ncds5d.pdf (opens in new tab)
Scoring:(see source materials)
Item-level variable(s):n520838-n520923 (individual items and overall summaries)
Total score/derived variable(s):None
Age of participant (months):Mean = 66.05, SD = 10.68, Range = 46 – 124
Descriptives:Not available (see technical resources on deriving scores)
Other sweep and/or cohort:None
Source:McCarthy, D. (1972). Manual for the McCarthy Scales of Children’s Abilities. Cleveland The Psychological Corporation).
Technical resources:National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, (1988). Child Data (Columbus, Ohio Center for Human Resource Research, The Ohio State University)
Reference examples:Michael, R. (2003). Children’s cognitive skill development in Britain and the United States. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 27(5), 396-408.

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This page is part of CLOSER’s ‘A guide to the cognitive measures in five British birth cohort studies’.