Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Psychometric and Information Processing Approaches to Measuring Cognitive Abilities: Paradigms in Military Testing

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

Psychometric and Information Processing Approaches to Measuring Cognitive Abilities: Paradigms in Military Testing

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper provides an overview of the psychometric and information processing approaches to measuring cognitive abilities. The psychometric approach has historically been the dominant approach, focusing on the measurement of capacities. The information processing approach originates in the cognitive psychology field and focuses on the measurement of processes. The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), exemplifying the psychometric approach, and the British Army Recruit Battery (BARB) and the Learning Abilities Measurement Program (LAMP), exemplifying the information processing approach, are reviewed, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each instrument. Contemporary views of cognitive ability assessment acknowledge the importance of both the psychometric and information processing approaches, and postulate a synthesis of the two approaches. Suggestions regarding the possible integration of the traditional psychometric measures with tests of psychomotor skills, working memory, and spatial ability are proposed.

Review of the Psychological Literature on the Psychometric and Information Processing Approaches to Measuring Cognitive Abilities

The origins of both the psychometric and information processing approaches to measuring cognitive abilities can be traced back to the turn of the century. The psychometric approach stems primarily from the work of Sir Alfred Binet, whereas the information processing approach originated with the work of Sir Francis Galton. Although many current tests of intellectual ability still bear a strong resemblance to the early measures developed by Binet, there has been growing interest in the use of information processing measures derived from cognitive psychology as indicators of intellectual ability. The psychometric and information processing approaches are frequently viewed as distinct approaches to measuring intellectual ability, and questions of the adequacy of each approach in performance prediction are common. However, the two approaches can be viewed as complementary, with a combination of the psychometric and information processing approaches potentially leading to enhanced validity in performance prediction. This paper provides an overview of the development of the psychometric and information processing approaches to measuring cognitive abilities, provides examples of the two approaches in military testing, and discusses the potential for integrating the two approaches.

PSYCHOMETRIC APPROACH

The psychometric approach to assessing cognitive abilities is undoubtedly the dominant approach (Neisser et al., 1996) and the vast majority of currently popular intelligence tests are modeled after the original tests developed by Alfred Binet (Binet & Simon, 1905, 1908). Concurrent with the introduction of universal education laws in France, Binet's objective was to develop a test that could be used to identify children who would not benefit from formal schooling. The original test developed by Binet, with the help of Simon, consisted of 30 questions, ordered in terms of increasing difficulty. The content of the test was largely verbal, focusing on the measurement of judgement, reasoning, and comprehension. Following its introduction in the U.S., the Binet-Simon test underwent numerous revisions and its current form, the Stanford-Binet (Thorndike, Hagen, & Sattler, 1986), is among the most widely used tests of intelligence. During the mid and latter-20th century, numerous other tests of intellectual ability, such as the Wechsler scales, the Raven Progressive Matrices, the Culture-Fair Test, the Multidimensional Aptitude Battery, and the recent Kaufman scales, were introduced. At present, some of the most widely used tests do not purport to measure intelligence per se, but rather measure constructs allied with intelligence, such as aptitude, achievement, and specialized abilities (Neisser et al., 1996). Popular examples of such tests include the Scholastic Aptitude Test, the Graduate Record Exam, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, and the General Aptitude Test Battery. …

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