Accuracy in Recalling Interest Inventory Information at Three Time Intervals

By Swanson, Jane L.; Gore, Paul A., Jr. et al. | Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, January 2006 | Go to article overview

Accuracy in Recalling Interest Inventory Information at Three Time Intervals


Swanson, Jane L., Gore, Paul A., Jr., Leuwerke, Wade, D'Achiardi, Catalina, Edwards, Jorie Hitch, Edwards, Jared, Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development


Rates of accurate recall of the Strong Interest Inventory (SII; L. W. Harmon, J. C. Hansen, F. H. Borgen, & A. L. Hammer, 1994) profile information varied with the amount of time elapsed since the interpretation, the type of SII scale, and whether immediate recall was elicited, but rates did not vary with the strategy used to provide the interpretation. Continuity of accurate recall over time was also observed.

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Despite there being a long history of using interest inventories, comparatively little research has focused on the impact of inventories, either in terms of inventories as interventions or the effect of different methods of interpretation (Goodyear, 1990; Tinsley & Chu, 1999). Recall by clients of inventory scores is pertinent to the issue of "consequential validity," or evidence of potential consequences of using interest inventories (Fouad, 1999; Messick, 1995). On the basis of a review of the extant research, Tinsley and Chu concluded that "the empirical foundation on which to base such an important intervention ... is shockingly inadequate" (p. 259).

Previous research does offer some tentative conclusions about the outcomes of the interpretation of interest inventories, including that group test interpretations seemed to be as effective as individual interpretations, that individual interpretations were preferred over group interpretations by those that received them, and that the use of visual aids seemed to increase the effectiveness of interpretations (Tinsley & Chu, 1999). Recently, Brown and Krane (2000) suggested that individualized feedback is a critical component of effective career interventions and that follow-up sessions are important adjuncts to group-based career interventions. These authors and others reinforce the pressing need to focus research attention on the process and outcomes of interest inventory interpretation.

Researchers who have studied the effects of interest inventory interpretation have debated the appropriateness of various criterion variables. Berdie (1954) criticized the use of recall of specific inventory scores as a criterion, arguing that recall does not differentiate between "learning" and "accepting" (or, as Tinsley and Chu [1997] added, "understanding"). Subsequent authors (Hansen, Kozberg, & Goranson, 1994; Tinsley & Chu, 1999) have echoed Berdie's concerns, but they have also argued that it is essential for clients to accurately recall and understand their results if they are to integrate this information into their self-concept. In other words, recall of material from an interest inventory interpretation is a necessary but not sufficient step in determining the effects of the interpretation.

The literature related to recall of interest inventory information is both outdated and plagued with methodological problems. Tinsley and Chu (1999) presented a cogent review of these problems, concluding that the "basic principles of competent experimental design have been ignored" (p. 264). In addition, very few studies have examined long-term recall of interest inventory scores: Only 4 of 32 studies cited by Tinsley and Chu included more than an immediate follow-up recall test. Although immediate recall is an important outcome, recall over longer time intervals is crucial to understanding the effects of interest inventory interpretation and the establishment of consequential validity. Moreover, there are omissions in the literature, such as virtually no research focusing on the way that interest test results are communicated (Tinsley & Chu, 1999). This, in particular, seems to be a fruitful area for further research given the intuitive link between the nature or format of test interpretations and what clients gain from interpretation.

Researchers in two studies (Hansen et al., 1994; Toman & Savickas, 1997) have suggested that students demonstrated poor recall of interest inventory scores following interpretation. …

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