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The Role of Nonverbal Ability Tests in Identifying Academically Gifted Students: An Aptitude Perspective David Lohman The University of Iowa

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Presentation on theme: "The Role of Nonverbal Ability Tests in Identifying Academically Gifted Students: An Aptitude Perspective David Lohman The University of Iowa"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Role of Nonverbal Ability Tests in Identifying Academically Gifted Students: An Aptitude Perspective David Lohman The University of Iowa

2 Overview Background Nonverbal tests –Advantages –Disadvantages Understanding abilities Aptitude perspective –For minority students Recommendations

3 Background

4 Why use nonverbal tests? 1.Measure abilities in ways that are fair to all students 2.Increase the diversity in programs for academically gifted and talented 3.Actively assist children who have not had the advantages of wealth or who have not from birth been immersed in English

5 Other factors to consider Get the right kids, not just the right number Especially critical for minority students –Next generation of writers, scientists, mathematicians Crafting policy for the identification and development of a diversity of academic talents

6 Nonverbal Tests Present visual stimuli (objects, line drawings) and Require a nonverbal response (assemble a puzzle, point, fill in a circle) Nonverbal describes the test, not the cognitive processes used to solve items Involvement of verbal processes –Explicit (UNIT Analogic reasoning subtest) –Implicit (Figural Reasoning tests)

7 UNIT Analogy

8 Advantages Reduced oral/written language load Verbal knowledge, verbally mediated strategies can be in any language Reduced mean differences between monolingual and bilingual students

9 Disadvantages Pictorial tests 1.Deciphering line drawings 2.Shorter directions are not necessarily better directions 3. Unforeseen linguistic confusions

10 UNIT Analogy

11 : JKLMN CogAT Figure Analogy

12 Disadvantages Figural reasoning tests –Task specificity greater than for V or Q

13 Task Specificity 1 Test 1

14 Task Specificity Test 1Test 2 +=

15 Task Specificity Figural Verbal

16 Disadvantages Figural reasoning tests –Task specificity greater than for V or Q –Large practice effects –Largest Flynn effect

17 Gains in Wechsler-Binet IQ for the U.S. White population. Sources J. Horgan (1995) and D. Schildlovsky. Example of Flynn Effect

18 Disadvantages Figural reasoning tests –Task specificity greater than for V or Q –Large practice effects –Largest Flynn effect –Appearance of measuring something innate

19 Fluid-Crystallized Continuum (1)

20 Fluid-Crystallized Continuum (2)

21 Disadvantages Figural reasoning tests –Task specificity greater than for V or Q –Large practice effects –Largest Flynn effect –Appearance of measuring something innate –Appearance of being culture fair

22 Culture fair? Intuitively plausible but long discredited idea Anastasi & Urbina (1997) Psychological Testing (7 th ed.) –no test can be equally fair to all cultures –nonlanguage tests may be more culturally loaded than language tests

23 Cronbach quote Cronbach (1990) Essentials of Psychological Testing (5 th ed). –no behavioral evidence is culture free. –the term culture fair makes a dubious claim

24 Scarr quote Scarr (1994) In Sternbergs Encyclopedia of Intelligence –intelligence and ability tests sample human cultural knowledge, acquired (through) development. –Although tests such as the Raven Matrices may seem fair… puzzle-like tasks turn out to have their own limitations.

25 : JKLMN CogAT Figure Analogy

26 Disadvantages Figural reasoning tests –Task specificity greater than for V or Q –Large practice effects –Largest Flynn effect –Appearance of measuring something innate –Appearance of being culture fair –Distal predictors of academic success

27 Example of r =.6 Mathematics Ach.

28 Example r =.6 Mathematics Ach.

29 Example r =.6 Mathematics Ach.

30 Example r =.6 Mathematics Ach.

31 Construct Representation Verbal Quantitative Nonverbal g

32 What predicts academic achievement? Verbal Reasoning Quantitative Reasoning Nonverbal Reasoning Academic Achievement

33 Selecting students on the basis of a test of nonverbal reasoning ability would: admit many students who are unprepared for advanced instruction in mathematics or science or other content-rich domains. exclude many students who either have already demonstrated high levels of accomplishment in these domains OR whose high verbal or quantitative reasoning abilities make them much more likely to succeed in such programs.

34 Figural reasoning as an inaptitude? Verbal Quantitative Nonverbal Verbal Quantitative Nonverbal N + N -

35 Figural reasoning as an inaptitude? Students with an N+ profile do less well in school than students with an N- profile Gohm, Humphreys & Yao (1998) find high spatial students do poorly on a wide range of academic outcomes. High N, high Q = engineer profile Cannot look at Nonverbal test alone

36 Extravagant Claims, Unlikely Promises NNAT claims –culture fair –a very good predictor of school achievement –small and inconsequential difference in mean scores for White, Black, & Hispanic students –identify equal proportions of high-scoring White, Black, & Hispanic students

37 Predict achievement? r (NNAT, Reading) =.56 r (NNAT, Reading in Spanish) =.32 r (NNAT, Math) =.6 r (CogAT, Reading) =.80 r (CogAT, Math) =.81

38 Small mean differences between ethnic groups? equal proportions of high scorers? Exceedingly implausible –e.g. NAEP differences 1 SD –Matrix format much studied Sample is small and unrepresentative –5.6 % Urban school children –More high SES Hispanics & Blacks Numbers do not add up –W-B and W-H differences inconsistent –means < 100 for all three groups –SDs all greater than 15

39 Demographics: Urbanicity

40 Demographics: SES

41 Mean W-B, W-H differences W-B W-H Naglieri & Ronning (2000) Naglieri & Ford (2003)

42 Aptitude Perspective Aptitude is –the degree of readiness to perform well in a particular situation or fixed domain. Examples –Ability to comprehend instructions –To use previously acquired knowledge and skill appropriately –To make good inferences and generalizations –To manage ones emotions

43 Academic accomplishment 1 Learning Context 1 Learning Context 2 Person characteristics

44 Academic Accomplishment/ Expertise On-grade and above-grade achievement tests Performance Assessments Teacher grades/ evaluations Academic accomplishment 2

45 Predicting Math Achievement in Grades 1-12 from CogAT 6

46 Multiple R = Predicting Math Achievement in Grades 1-12 from CogAT 6

47 Predicting Reading Comprehension/ Vocabulary in Grades 1-12 from CogAT 6

48 Multiple R = Predicting Reading Comprehension/ Vocabulary in Grades 1-12 from CogAT 6

49 Multiple R =.81 (.80).66 (.72).14 (.12).06 (.04) Predicting Reading Comp/ Vocab for All Students (Hispanics) grades 1-6

50 Predictors of Achievement The regression equations that best predict achievement in Reading, Mathematics, Social Studies, & Science from CogAT Verbal, Quantitative, and Nonverbal reasoning are the same for White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian-American students Other investigators find the same (Keith)

51 Predicting Future Achievement Achievement Grade 4Grade 9

52 Predicting Future Achievement Reading Achievement Reading Achievement Verbal Reasoning Grade 4Grade

53 Predicting Future Achievement Math Achievement Math Achievement Quant. Reasoning Grade 4Grade Nonverbal Reasoning.19

54 Recap 1.Structure of abilities the same within ethnic groups 2.Predictors of concurrent achievement are the same in White, Black, Hispanic, & Asian- Americans 3.Best predictors of future achievement in a domain are current achievement in that domain and the ability to reason in the symbol system(s) used to communicate new knowledge in the domain 4.Therefore….

55 Bilingual students Verbal achievement in both L1 and L2 depend on a common set of verbal processes –Phonemic awareness in Spanish predicts reading in English (Lindsey et al. 2003) –Grades in English are more strongly related to (Swedish) verbal abilities than are grades in Swedish (Gustafsson & Balke, 1993). –Best predictors of learning French are verbal abilities and achievements in English -- not mathematical or figural reasoning abilities (Carroll, 1981)

56 Aptitude versus Achievement Estimates of academic aptitude must always be judged relative to circumstances. Estimates of academic attainment, on the other hand, must be made on a scale that is similar for all.

57 Common Cut Scores? Current Accomplishment Common standards more reasonable Potential for future accomplishment Common standards not defensible Lead to the search for aptitude tests that predict achievement but not group differences in achievement Get more kids, but more of the wrong kids

58 Distinguishing Present Accomplishment from Predicted Accomplishment Accelerate ? Accomplishment

59 One year later Same Improve Decline

60 Who is most likely to improve? Strongest reasoning abilities in the symbol systems used to communicate knowledge in the domain Best, most appropriately challenging instruction Motivation and persistence

61 Guidelines 1.Except for very young children, academic giftedness should be defined primarily by measures of academic accomplishment. 2.The primary cognitive aptitudes for future academic accomplishment are domain- specific achievement and the ability to reason in the symbol systems used to communicate new knowledge. 3.The predictors of achievement are the same in different ethnic groups.

62 4. Use the nonverbal test as a helpful adjunct, but as a measure of last resort. 5. Provide different levels of challenge to those who have already exhibited academic excellence and those who are working to attain it 6. Use common aptitude measures but uncommon cut scores (e.g., rank within group) when identifying minority students most likely to profit from intensive instruction.

63 The Role of Nonverbal Ability Tests in Identifying Academically Gifted Students: An Aptitude Perspective David Lohman The University of Iowa


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