VESIP: Virtual Environment for Social Information Processing Assessment Tool for Upper Elementary and Middle School Children

Research Team

Nicole Russo-Ponsaran, Principal Investigator, Rush University Medical Center

Louis Fogg, Co-Investigator, Rush University College of Nursing

Award Period

07/01/15- 06/30/19

Funding Source

Institute of Education Sciences


The purpose of this project is to further develop and validate the Virtual Environment for Social Information Processing (VESIP), a computer-based assessment of social information processing skills in third through seventh grade students. The ability to accurately interpret social cues and resolve conflict is a strong predictor of academic success, yet few tools exist to measure the social information processing skills that support this ability in school-age children. VESIP uses an interactive, simulated environment with customizable avatars to assess students’ understanding of different types of social encounters (e.g., bullying/teasing, joining a group of peers already playing together) typical in school settings (e.g., classroom, cafeteria). VESIP is intended to provide schools with the ability to measure children’s social information processing skills easily and accurately to intervene if needed to support success in school. In this project, the researchers will first improve the functionality of VESIP for schools by developing a web-based delivery platform to support wide-scale administration and automated score reports. This initial development work will be followed by a field trial in three Illinois school districts to determine VESIP’s psychometric properties and to determine if any items need to be changed. The final phase of the project involves recruitment of a nationally representative sample of students to establish preliminary norms for scoring. Researchers will produce a fully developed and validated web-based assessment of social information processing skills in children from third through seventh grade, and peer reviewed publications.