When brain is tested

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Although advancements in neuroscience are taking place recently, many questions are still being raised when it comes to the brain and its functioning. Thus, when cognitive ability is the subject, many limitations are present. Even though each brain area is responsible for certain ability or functioning, cognition is a whole brain process and everything in the brain is interconnected in a way that one area might affect another. Also, constructs under cognitive ability, until now, do not have one appropriate definition. Thus, one ultimate definition for “Intelligence” or “Creativity”, for example, is not available. While various constraints exist around this issue, cognitive ability is a significant matter and it is the concern of many institutions and organization. For that reason, cognitive ability tests, whether for military, employment settings or educational admissions are widely conducted.

On one hand, these tests are considered efficient tools and good predictors of a wide array of criteria, from measuring performance to executive functioning and information processing, and other. On the other hand, many factors might be present influencing the success of an individual at a school or a workplace setting, which in turn would affect the results and outcomes of these tests.

When it comes to measuring cognitive ability, several questions arise. First question seizes individual differences such as personality, learning style and preferences, and the intellectual profile of each individual. Second question holds the importance of cultural differences and how adapted tests might affect the tested population. Third, the credibility of the test-giver as well as the test interpreter, and how it might affect the results of these tests. Fourth, the situational and physical factors that might affect people’s performance; such as “cognitive fatigue” and the time of administration of the test. If a person was tired, anxious, or sleepy, for example, he might score lower on the test. In addition, motivational level should also be taken into consideration, for it might have a positive or a negative impact on different forms of assessment.

Consequently, many factors should be considered when administering and interpreting cognitive ability testing. 

First, the test should be put in the right hands and test-givers should undergo a mandatory training for carrying out a test.

Moreover, test-interpreters should be aware of the diversity of the population and the impact of such diversity on the results of these tests. 

Also, all learning has an emotional aspect. For that reason, test takers’ confidence, motivation, and self-esteem should be taken into consideration when successful learning is the aim.

Furthermore, reliance on cognitive ability tests as the sole or the dominant basis for making decisions such as academic admissions, employment, advancement, and so on, might have the effect of virtually excluding members of lower scoring groups from success in highly competitive settings. Thus, cognitive ability testing in personnel selection should be used as part of a broader assessment program that also includes non-cognitive measures and not be used as the sole determinant of selection decisions.

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