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Trends in Psychological Measurement

As mentioned in this week’s Introduction, computers have propelled many of the changes in psychological testing. Computers facilitate the computation needed for test construction, administration, scoring, and interpretation. Through the Internet, computers also make it much easier to collect test validation data and to administer tests at a distance. Nevertheless, these changes are accompanied by new challenges and problems. For instance, some computer programs are available that score test protocols, write narratives, and make recommendations. A computer-generated report, however, is unable to weigh clinical information in the way that a professional could and can therefore be misleading. When test validation and administration is done virtually, there is less control over the nature of the sample and the conditions of administration. Furthermore, electronic storage and transmission of test information raises concerns about security and confidentiality.

Another outcome of increasing computer technology is that item-response theory (IRT) is becoming increasingly easy to apply. New software and fast and inexpensive computers are readily accessible. This has made possible the development of item banks and computer administration that can be carefully matched to an examinee’s ability level. IRT also allows test items to be compared across languages and cultures.

Increased sensitivity to cultural diversity and disability is another trend. Since the 1970s, there has been a significant awareness of how culture affects and biases test performance. Early responses to this awareness were to “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” For instance, the 1979 California Larry P. v. Riles legal decision banned the use of intelligence tests for placing African-American students in special education classes. An evolving understanding of culture allows us to apply tests more appropriately, selecting test instruments that are consistent with an examinee’s background, interpreting patterns of scores rather than single summary scores, and looking at test results against the background of personal information.

To prepare for this Discussion, select one peer-reviewed journal article on a current trend in psychological measurement (one mentioned above or a different one). Consider the implications of this trend for future testing, measurement, and research.

With these thoughts in mind:

Post a brief summary of the article you selected and an explanation of how the article characterizes the trend. Finally, explain two implications of this trend in future testing, measurement, and research.

Be sure to support your postings and responses with specific references to the Learning Resources.

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