To evaluate the implications of deliberate practice when teaching test administration skills, novice, but trained, graduate student examiners administered intelligence tests to a convenience sample of volunteer school-age examinees assigned to a first test session. A second, different convenience sample of volunteer school-age examinees were administered a final test session by the same graduate student examiners who had acquired more experience and deliberate test administration practice. IQs obtained by examinees in the final test session, when tested by the more experienced examiners, were significantly higher than IQs obtained by examinees in the first test session when tested by novice examiners. These findings highlight the importance of deliberate practice when teaching and learning testing skills. In addition, the findings are consistent with cognitive load theory and have implications for educational data-based decision-making.
Keywords: Deliberate Practice, Cognitive Load Theory, Intelligence Testing, Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
Intelligence tests utilize standard procedures to measure multiple characteristics of examinees. These tests are used in virtually all schools to describe cognitive functioning, assist in educational programming, screen for special needs, diagnose disabling disorders, and estimate future behaviors (Edwards & Oakland, 2006). In addition, intelligence and other high-stakes standardized tests have important implications for school funding and accountability. Obtaining the most accurate assessment of an individual is always the goal of examiners who administer intelligence and other types of standardized tests (Edwards & Paulin, 2007).
The scores students obtain when administered an intelligence test are likely to have an enduring impact on their schooling and life. Consequently, it is critical that systematic errors in the testing process do not affect examinee scores and inappropriately influence program placement, treatment, services, and outcomes. "First do no harm" is an important principle stated frequently by faculty who train student test examiners (Edwards, 2009). In light of the periodic revision of intelligence tests, coupled with examiners' requirement to learn multiple tests, examiners are sometimes presented with a steep learning curve that may result in systematic errors adversely affecting examinees' scores as well as their educational and life outcomes (Loe, Kadulbek, & Marks, 2007).
As intelligence tests are revised and renormed, examiners must learn to administer, score, and interpret these new versions of the tests. When learning a new iteration of an intelligence test, the examiner is required to utilize appropriate testing skills (AERA,APA, & NCME, 1999). That is, they are required to administer and score tests using standard procedures described in the test manual. Using the precise standard procedures permit examiners to employ test scores in the manner recommended in the test manual (Edwards, 2009). However, learning to administer, score, and interpret multiple iterations of intelligence tests and learning new assessment techniques can be a daunting task due to the myriad important competencies associated with test administration.
Examiners must also learn to administer, score, and interpret new iterations of tests and acquire familiarity with their strengths and limitations (Edwards, 2009). These competencies are necessary in order to ensure that accurate administration, scoring, and interpretation facilitate positive, rather than pejorative, student outcomes. Complying with these numerous competencies may overload inexperienced examiners' cognitive capacity to fluently and efficiently administer intelligence and score tests.
Cognitive Load Theory
According to cognitive load theory (CLT),the human cognitive structure is comprised of general-purpose working memory that is limited to the short-term storage of approximately seven, plus or minus two chunks of information, the capacity to simultaneously process about two or three chunks of information, and practically unlimited long-term memory that holds information stored in schemas or knowledge structures (van Gog, Ericsson, Rikers, & Paas, 2005). …