Galton called tests conducted in his anthropometric laboratory, by mental tests (from English test - test ). Soon the term became so popular as no other psychological concept. He entered the wide circulation after the article Raymond Bernard Kettell (1905-1998) "Mental tests and measurements."
"Psychology," wrote Cattell, "can not become solid and accurate, like physical science, unless it is based on experiment and measurement. A step in this direction can be made by applying a series of mental tests to a large number of individuals. The results can have considerable scientific value in the discovery of the constancy of mental processes, their interdependence and changes in various circumstances. " Thus, he put forward a statistical approach - the application of a series of tests to a large number of individuals - as a means of transforming psychology into an exact science. Statistics, in turn, relied on mathematics, in connection with which the possibility arose of an alliance of psychology and mathematics.
Cattell proposed 50 tests as a sample, including various measurements of sensitivity, reaction time, time spent on naming colors, the number of sounds reproduced after a single listening session, and others. They were used by the scientist at a laboratory he had set up at Columbia University. Almost simultaneously, other American laboratories also began to apply the test method, which soon eclipsed all others. For several years, it became necessary to organize special focal points.
Two national committees have been set up in the United States to unite the efforts of test specialists and to give a general direction to test papers. Leading specialists in this field from different countries took an active part in designing the tests. Tests were used for the needs of the school, medicine, industry, the army. The technique of processing data on individual differences and correlations between them has been improved.
While engaging in testing techniques, the English psychologist Charles Edward Spearman (1863-1945) came to the conclusion that in those cases where there is a positive correlation between tests for different abilities (for example, mathematical and literary), they measure some general factor. He labeled it with the letter G (from general - general ).
In addition to the factor common to all activities, each activity reveals a specific factor that is unique to it (factors 81, 82, etc.). This conclusion has generated numerous discussions. Many psychologists rejected the existence of a common factor, suggesting that it can also be decomposed into several others.
Initially, the usual experimental psychological tests were conducted. In form they resembled the methods of laboratory research, but their meaning was fundamentally different.The task of the experiment was to elucidate the dependence of the mental act on external and internal stimuli and physiological mechanisms, the duration of the reaction time - on internal operations (discrimination, choice, setting), memorization - on the frequency and distribution of repetitions, etc. The experimenter was interested in the dependence of the observed factors on the causes that produce them. He tested a set of conditions to determine which function of what variables this phenomenon was.
When testing, unlike experimentation, the psychologist records what people do without changing the conditions of their activities. He measures the results with a certain criterion, registering quantitative variations. Here the variables are individual differences. Differential psychology from the very beginning developed as a quantitative discipline, studying not a causal (causal) but a stochastic (probabilistic) regularity. This, however, does not give grounds for considering it a less important or less promising direction than experimental psychology . The statistical regularity makes it possible to predict phenomena by virtue of the fact that probabilistic relationships are inherent in the very nature of things, and are not introduced into it by arbitrary operations of the mind.
The focus of testology on the operational solution of practical problems has determined its rapid and wide dissemination. The procedure for measuring the intellect was perceived as a means, allowing based on the data of psychology, and not purely empirical approach to the issues of training, professional selection, evaluation of achievements, etc.
Of particular interest in this regard were the studies of Alfred Binet (1857-1911), dealing with the development of thinking in children.
Binet studied the stages of development of thinking in children, asking them questions on the definition of concepts ("What is a chair?", "What is a horse?"). Summarizing the answers of the children of 3-7 years, he came to the conclusion that during this time the children go through three stages in the development of concepts: "enumeration stage", "description stage" and the "interpretation stage".
At the beginning of the XX century. Binet received an order from the Ministry of Education of France to develop a method to identify children entering school who must attend secondary schools. For this purpose, Binet developed a series of questions of varying degrees of complexity, the answers of children to which would allow us to determine the level of their intelligence. These tasks immediately proved themselves so well that Binet decided to create tests for general diagnosis of intellectual development in all children from 3 to 18 years. For each age, he created tasks of varying degrees of complexity, exploring different aspects of intellectual development (for checking vocabulary, account, memory, general awareness, spatial orientation, logical thinking, etc.).
For each age, no less than 5-7 assignments were intended, and Binet stressed that it is not so much the content of the tests as their number that is important. He was convinced that a clever child would always cope better with a task, and a greater number of tasks would help avoid accidents.
The greatest difficulty in designing tests was the need to build them so that the child's knowledge level, his experience did not influence the answer - the tests should be based on the minimum experience that exists for all children of the corresponding age. Only in this case, Binet stressed, it is possible to distinguish a trained child from a capable child, since children with high intelligence, but not specially trained, will be on an equal footing with children who have been taught in good schools or at home.
One of the tasks of the Binet test was a division task. The child was offered to share six oranges among themselves, mom and dad. Many children, even 8-9 years old, could not solve this problem. The problem was not that they could not divide six by three, but that they did not know what an orange was. Unfortunately, such mistakes also happen at the present time when, when testing children from an orphanage for whom any mention of the family and parents is an affective situation, they are asked whether there are enough dishes for six people, who is standing by my mother at the buffet , if two friends with your parents came to visit you.
Mental age The child was calculated using a special scale designed by the student Binet T. Simon (1873-1961), and located in the gap between the last correct answers (three plus in a row) and the first three incorrect answers (three consecutive minuses).
Later German psychologist In. Stern (1871 - 1938) proposed to introduce an intelligence coefficient that is a constant and is calculated by the formula:
where u.v. - Mental age, calculated by the Binet-Simon scale, and fv. - the physical (chronological) age of the child.
The norm was a coefficient of 70 to 130%. It was assumed that below this indicator are mentally retarded children, higher - gifted.
Binet believed that the level of intellectual development is constant and does not depend on age, i.e. and in 3 years and at 15 years the indicator for the child will be the same, despite the changes in the social environment, the conditions of education and upbringing. Thus, he proceeded from the premise that the intellect is an innate entity and does not change during life, although it is directed toward solving various problems.
Bina three times updated and modified his scale. The authority of the scientist was so high that after his death in France, the tests he created were practically not revised until the 1960s.
It should be noted that, despite many shortcomings, Binet's tests are today one of the most successful and most adequately measuring the intellectual development of children.
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