Posts in this section cover various aspects of psychological assessment.
|The final step of most psychological assessment is the write-up. This is when the examiner outlines the assessment process and discusses the results and conclusions drawn from them. It is the final product that will be delivered to the consumer, whether that be the courts, another mental health provider, or a school referrer. It helps to have a template report that a student or examiner can build on to produce a top quality product. I am providing an example of a template I used as a student. It is not intended for students to take as their own, but rather to use as an example of how a simple but thorough template can look.|
Click HERE for the example.
Regarding the client, there are several factors that the administrator should be aware of prior to testing. To begin with, any special needs should be identified. These may include testing location and/or conditions as well as language barriers. Also, the tester should be aware of the benefits of establishing and maintaining good rapport prior to and during testing. Each of these factors could effect the individuals performance on tasks in ways which have no true reflection of their mental abilities.
There are several conceptual considerations that the tester should also be aware of prior to testing. It would probably be a good idea to know the purpose behind intellectual testing, both as it applies to our overall understanding of the world around us and as it applies to the individual client sitting in our office. The tester should understand what the results of a test mean, if anything. The most common purpose of giving intelligence tests as stated in Table 1.2 of the text is to measure the individual’s cognitive potential. However, other justifications for administering these tests are to obtain clinically relevant data, assess the functional ability of the brain, to determine educational and vocational placement, and to develop educational and vocational interventions.
There are several issues regarding the administering process, itself, that the administrator must be aware of. For individuals age 16, the administrator should be aware of the appropriateness of both the WISC-III and the WAIS-III for this age group and be able to determine the more appropriate test for the individual. When actually administering a test, one should have a good knowledge the procedures such as starting and discontinuing subtests and timing requirements prior to testing. Without having foreknowledge of these guidelines, the tester may inadvertently cause one or more subtests to be invalid due to administrator error or at the very least disrupt the testing procedure resulting in a distracted client. With that said, the administrator should have prior knowledge of other types of administration errors, such as neglecting to record responses, not repeating specific parts of the directions verbatim, mishandling stimuli objects, neglecting to ask questions or overpromting, and assigning too many points to a response.
The administrator needs to be aware of the “intelligent testing philosophy” as outlined by Kaufman and Lichtenberger. The five assumptions of this philosophy allow the tester to keep the individual’s test performance in perspective by acknowledging that the tasks are only a small measure of the client and that they are not the only measure. Unfortunately, not being aware of this philosophy can actually influence the performance of the individual through a poorly trained tester’s non-verbal cues, if the said tester does not understand the true role of the tasks in relation to the “bigger picture.”
Other things that it would not hurt to have foreknowledge of include the relationship between IQ and education, the prediction of academic achievement, the relationship between IQ and occupation, and the prediction of job performance. Having a firm grasp of these concepts can allow for deeper understanding of the client and better interpretation of results. An understanding of the construct validity of different scales would likewise add to the testers understanding of results.
|Intellectual testing has its origins in ancient China when about 2000 B.C. the Mandarins set up a civil-service testing program as a means for determining which citizens would better serve the emperor in a particular capacity. Over 3000 years later, the first oral examinations in law were held at the University of Bologna establishing the academic tradition still used today of passing one’s “orals” and orally defending one’s dissertation. Modern intellectual testing arguably began in France with Francis Galton in the late 1800’s. However, rather than creating a true measure of intelligence, Galton’s test actually measured sensory abilities and motor skills. Later, in 1905, Alfred Binet and Theophile’ Simon developed the first practical intelligence measure. Unlike Galton who made no distinctions between children and adults, Binet and Simon’s test centered and was concerned solely with the assessment of children, creating a trend that would last for several years until the Wechsler scales came into existence in the United States and took the intelligence measuring business by storm. Today, the Wechsler tests have been adapted for used in Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe, the Netherlands and Puerto Rico. Still, different parts of the world have created their own measures relevant to their own needs. For instance, the ACER test is extremely popular in Australia. IQ testing is primarily a western European and American phenomenon. In Asia, testing focuses more on performance tasks; in Russia, the common practice is to test up to the individual’s limit and then provide “hints” to see the individual’s potential with assitstance.
Lezak’s argument against use of IQ scores focuses on two main points. First, that the IQ score itself unsound and pointless, as she argues there are hundreds of different tasks one could use and still not have a definitive measure of intelligence. The second point she makes is people in and out of the psychological field are misusing the global IQ score by treating it as if it was a measure by which you could categorize someone, without regard to other factors, as well as essentially harming or preventing client opportunities by inappropriate test administration.
The rebuttal to Lezak’s argument denies that psychological professionals “misuse” IQ scores and argues the complete opposite stating that these professionals understand the purpose of the score is to have a starting point, a reference point or an overview of the person. It also argues that by breaking down the global score into its subscores, one can get a better understanding and insight into the client, such as for the purpose of determining strengths and weaknesses. The side for the rebuttal also contradicts Lezak’s claim that IQ scores are unsound. They cite literature that backs-up the empirical validity and supports the constructs underlying the IQ scores. The rebuttal dismisses the specific claim that the tests are poorly administered by dismissing the reference to the Larry P. case as an attempt to promote a race-based agenda.
Regarding differences between men and women, beginning at early adolescence/puberty, men tend to perform better on measures of arithmetic and spatial visualization from the Wechsler adult scales and Kaufman tests. On the other hand, women tend to perform better on measures of clerical and processing speed. One theory suggests that women are better able to verbally encode abstract symbols. While these differences between men and women are consistent, they seem to be of no practical significance, as indicated in the text. While several theories have been proposed, there currently is no real consensus as to an explanation for these findings. Among the three major ethnic groups in the United States, Caucasians, African American and Hispanic, there is significant difference in scores on intelligence tests. With a difference of about 1 standard deviation, Caucasians outscore African Americans on the WAIS-III, WAIS-R, Binet-4 and KAIT, with differences being larger for adults than for children and adolescents on the WAIS-III. Caucasians, like-wise, outscore Hispanics, though not nearly to the extent that they do African Americans. The text indicates that scores between Caucasians and Hispanics are most similar on Performance subtests and suggests that the discrepancies in the Hispanic individual profile (P>V) is due to the “language demands and cultural content of the Verbal scale on the Wechsler tests, which may unduly depress scores for those whose first or second language is Spanish and whose cultural and subcultural influences are from the nondominant culture.” It has also been noted that there is a difference in scores between rural and urban individuals, with urban individuals outscoring rural individuals, although the difference is not significant. In contrast to the days prior to the 1930s, IQ scores differences gradually declined through the 1970s, according to the text. One contributing factor suggested in the text is the increase in mass media. Regarding occupational differences, there is a steady decline in IQ scores starting with professional and technical workers and going down to unskilled laborers. Looking at ages 20 through 54, there is a discrepancy of almost 2 standard deviations between the professional/technical workers and the unskilled workers. Interesting enough, as demonstrated in Table 4.4 of the text, there is also a steady decline in the mean IQ scores of individuals between the ages of 16 and 19 whose parents are professional/technical workers and whose parents are unskilled workers. Data presented in the text accentuates the relationship between education and IQ, including the relationship between a parent’s education and his/her child’s IQ. Still, it is not just education alone that leads to higher IQ scores, but rather a combining of high scores on nonacademic tasks like the WAIS-III Digit Symbol and Block Design. When looking at IQ differences for age groups we have to consider the chronological age of the individual and the generational age in which they were reared. Different generations have different educational opportunities, as stated in the text. There are also other factors to consider. Verbal IQ and education have a stronger correlation with ages 25-54 and 55-74 than for ages 18-24. While it is not known for sure it is suggested that this may be the result of the younger age group still having members receiving formal education.
|The history of intellectual testing began circa 1500 A.D. Prior to that, most psychological testing would probably fall into the realm of personality/interest/skill testing. Still, it was not really until the mid- to late- 1800s that the “intelligence” tests associated with today’s tests came into being with Sir Francis Galton. Still, his was not a true measurement of intelligence; rather it was a measurement of physical and sensory ability. It wasn’t until 1896 that Alfred Binet and Victor Henri proposed a theoretical program for the development of an intelligence test. Then in 1905, Binet and Theophile’ Simon actually did develop the first practical test of intelligence, whose tasks are still presenting most modern day intelligence tests today. This scale was primarily used to classify children according to the three levels of mental retardation. In 1908, realizing that the current scale had more far-ranging abilities than originally intended, the Binet-Simon scale was modified to include age levels (3 to 8 years). In 1911, the scale was again modified to include assessment of older adolescents and adults. Originally written in French, the Binet-Simon was translated into English by Henry Goddard in 1909, extending the applicability of the test. This would open the door for English speaking persons, such as Lewis Terman, to translate the scale and adapt it for use in the United States. Terman’s 1916 Stanford-Binet adaptation quickly rose to the forefront of intellectual testing. Still, following the pattern of it’s predecessors, the Stanford-Binet was mainly applied to the assessment of mental deficiency or superiority in children. It wasn’t until World War I and the entry of the US into the war that adult assessment rose to the forefront. The Stanford-Binet was adapted by Arther Otis, a student of Terman, to be used in a group setting, the resulting test being named the Army Alpha. At the same time, a non-verbal group test, the Army Beta, was designed and given to those who were illiterate and/or non-English speaking. A third scale, the Army Performance Scale Examination, was created by David Wechsler. This scale would lead the way for the most widely used intelligence test in the US today. In 1939, Wechsler developed the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale. Designed solely for adolescents and adults, this was a break from pre- and post-war bias for childhood assessment. Following along the same visionary concepts, Wechsler placed equal value on the performance scale and the verbal scale, to collectively complete his scale. In 1949, in an attempt to modify the Wechsler-Bellevue to assess children ages 5 to 15, the WISC was created. It was during this time that intelligence tests came under fire by accusations of being culturally biased. This accusation would pave the path for several court cases IQ test bias, beginning almost 2 decades later. Still, according to the text, there has been little change regarding the most widely used intelligence tests in the past several decades. Per the text, the Wechsler family of tests is at the top of lists from psychologists across the board.
|Per the textbooks, the intelligent testing philosophy outlined by Kaufman and Lichtenberger focuses on several assumptions and can be applied to all age groups. The first assumption, IQ tests measure what the individual has learned, acknowledges that any test scores obtained are really a measurement of what information an individual has learned and receive from past experiences and the culture from which they hail. In this way, IQ scores reflect more what a person has accomplished in the past rather than what they are likely to accomplish in the future, although it seems reasonable that past performance can predict future performance to some amount. The second assumption, IQ tasks are samples of behavior and are not exhaustive, concedes that what is really being tested is types of responses, i.e. behaviors, whether they be verbal or nonverbal. In addition, these tasks are only a few of the many different strategies for obtaining the sought after data and do not stand alone as some ultimate measure of intelligence. IQ tests like the WAIS-III, KAIT, and WJ III assess mental functioning under fixed experimental conditions. This is the third assumption of the Kaufman-Lichtenberger intelligence testing philosophy. What naturally follows from this assumption is the understanding that standardized IQ tests sacrifice some real-world practicality for the predictability and reliability of the laboratory. Standardized IQ tests require strict adherence to procedures in order to insure that the results are valid and reliable, but it is these same strict procedures that prevent the demonstration of “real intelligence” as it relates to the real world and everyday life. The fourth assumption, IQ tests are optimally useful when they are interpreted from an information-processing model, indicates that to obtain the most benefit from testing, results should be looked at as an indication of how information is better obtained and processed by the tested individual. In this way, the tester can develop a deeper sense and understanding of the “learning-style” of the tested and identify the strengths and weaknesses of the client with regard to learning, processing and tasking. The fifth assumption builds off of the previous four: hypotheses generated from IQ test profiles should be supported with data from multiple sources. Since the tasks utilized in IQ tests are simply measures of behavior, non-exhaustive and rigidly standardized, any hypotheses derived must also take many other factors into consideration if they are to hold any practical significance. As indicated in the text such factors may include but are not limited to background information, observed behaviors and approach to each problem-solving task. Also, as indicated in the text, the tester should be aware of any circumstances that may result in falsely skewed scores, such as medical/physical conditions.
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