Test Usage in Published Research and the Practice of Counseling: A Comparative Review

By Hogan, Thomas P.; Rengert, Colleen | Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, April 2008 | Go to article overview

Test Usage in Published Research and the Practice of Counseling: A Comparative Review


Hogan, Thomas P., Rengert, Colleen, Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development


Psychological tests are one of the most distinctive contributions to modern society. It is, therefore, not surprising that numerous studies have been conducted on exactly which tests are widely used. Piotrowski (1999; Piotrowski & Keller, 1992) identified more than 30 studies conducted in the past 2 decades. Lubin, Larsen, and Matarazzo (1984) traced patterns of test usage over a 50-year period. Combining all of the studies, we can observe tests used over approximately 70 years. Results of such studies help to define normal practices within the field as well as to detect trends in the types of tests used.

The majority of studies of test usage have used self-report methodology. Respondents are presented with a list of tests and asked to indicate which tests they use, sometimes indicating frequency of use or relative importance in working with clients; usually, there is an opportunity to add write-in candidates. Although many of the studies included psychologists practicing within the field of counseling along with other psychologists in other specialties, three studies reported results concentrating on the counseling field. Bubenzer, Zimpfer, and Mahrle (1990) surveyed a sample drawn from the American Association for Counseling and Development. Frauenhoffer, Ross, Gfeller, Searight, and Piotrowski (1998) surveyed mental health professionals in four states. Watkins, Campbell, and McGregor (1988) surveyed a sample drawn from the American Psychological Association's Division 17 (Society of Counseling Psychology). Hogan (2005) summarized major results from these three studies, all based on self-report methodology. Table 1 identifies the 12 top tests as summarized by Hogan in terms of average rank within the three studies. See also Archer and Newsom (2000) for a more broadly defined group of respondents selected for work with adolescent clients and using self-report methodology. It is worth noting that several studies using similar methodologies in different years (typically about 10 years apart) have reported substantial stability in rankings of tests for self-reported usage (e.g., Archer & Newsom, 2000; Lubin et al., 1984; Piotrowski, 1999); although some changes do occur, they move at glacial pace.

Several studies have used methodologies other than self-reported usage to define test usage. Lees-Haley, Smith, Williams, and Dunn (1995) examined forensic psychological reports to determine what tests were used in 100 court cases. Ponteretto, Pace, and Kavan (1989) identified the most popular measures of depression among counselors by counting references to depression scales in four standard counseling journals (Journal of Counseling & Development, Journal of Counseling Psychology, Cognitive Therapy and Research, and Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology). They found 73 different scales mentioned. Some of their results were predictable based on self-reported usage of tests. However, some of the most popular scales in the journals never appeared in self-report studies. Hogan, Conklin, and Daley (2003) applied a similar methodology by examining tests used in research articles over a 5-year period in five journals related to school psychology (Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, Journal of School Psychology, Psychology in the Schools, School Psychology Quarterly, and School Psychology Review). Their study also identified some results in agreement with results from self-report studies but some major discrepancies between results from self-report studies and research usage of tests within school psychology (Hogan et al., 2003).

The present study used methodology similar to that of Ponteretto et al. (1989) and Hogan et al. (2003) in examining tests used in counseling journals. We compared results from the self-report studies, as listed earlier, with test usage as defined by empirical studies in the research literature within the counseling field.

METHOD

We examined all articles in each issue of four journals in the counseling field from May 2002 to May 2005. …

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