Aptitude Testing in the 21st Century in Nigeria: The Basic Issues to Rivet

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Educational institutions are expected to conduct achievement tests to be able to establish the desired characteristics of their examinees. Testing has become one of the most important parameters by which a society adjudges the product of her educational system. Testing has always been an important part of the school system that even the habitual absentees normally turn up to school and present themselves for testing on examination days. The essence of testing is to reveal the latent ability of examinee. Testing has been fully accepted in most modern societies as the most objective method of decision making in schools, industries and government establishments. It is now used for admission, recruitment, promotion, placement, evaluation, and guidance, research and teaching purpose among others (Emaikwu, 2013).

In schools, some estimate of students' ability are necessary for determining learning readiness, in organising classroom grouping in diagnosing learning problems and in helping pupils with their vocational and educational plans. Students' performances in various areas of human learning depend to the large extent on the special abilities they possess in those areas. Experiences have shown that some students do very well in some subjects while they do not perform well in others. Experienced teachers equally recognise the fact that there are students who perform well as a result of hard 'and painstaking efforts on their own. At the same time they also observe that there are students who do well in the same subject without having to strain themselves so much. This portrays that student differ greatly in their ability to cope with various subjects (Emaikwu, 2012).

There is a general worry about the poor quality of education in Nigeria. The frequency of occurrence of examination malpractice and incidence of mass failure in examinations indicate state of hopelessness and helplessness in the educational system. There could be no serious incidence of examination malpractice if there are no academically weak students. The ugly incidence of examination malpractice accounts for the existence of several qualifying examinations in Nigeria such as post university matriculation aptitude tests, job placement aptitude test, among others to authenticate candidates' certificates. The incidence of mass failure in examination has become so endemic that one wonders if placement evaluation in form of aptitude testing is actually serving its intended purpose. The calamity of examination malpractice is not just the havoc it wrecks in our educational system but the gradual introduction of youths into the practice of fraud. Malpractices in examinations have become so widespread that many people doubt the quality of graduates from the Nigerian educational system. It has led to the questioning of the validity and reliability of the examinations as well as the authenticity of the results and certificates obtained. A widespread examination malpractice in tertiary institutions in Nigeria has led to a situation where the use of formal examination as basis for determining the level of candidates' proficiency at absorbing, reproducing and applying knowledge has become impossible. Some university graduates who are products of examination malpractice have become a reserved army of the unemployable and this poses serious economic and social problems in the country (Uzoagulu, 2008; Duze, 2011).

Sequel to this ugly scenario, this article focuses on aptitude testing in the 21st century with some basic issues to rivet in Nigeria. The article explains aptitude test in contrast with intelligence tests. The article presents a brief history of aptitude testing movement in Nigeria with the problems and progress so far made by the aptitude testing in Nigeria in the 21st century and suggests how the results of aptitude test should be utilized.

THE CONCEPT OF APTITUDE TEST

An examination used to determine an individual's propensity to succeed in a given activity can be regarded as an aptitude test. …