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Usefulness of Test Items That Involve Finding a Pattern in Data: A Reply

Helmstadter, Gerald C
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Grade Prediction, Induction, Lampkin, Richard H., Logical Thinking, Mathematics Tests, Predictive Measurement, Test Format, Testing Problems


This paper presents a reply to some of the questions raised in a paper by Dr. Richard Lampkin in which he was critical of the use of "finding-a-pattern-in- data" test items for selecting and placing scientific personnel. Specifically, this paper addresses the following criticisms of finding-a-pattern-in-data items in general and number series items in particular: 1) More than one solution may be possible; 2) Routine procedures will usually yield a solution; and 3) the accurate prediction of success in a creative field (like science) is impossible. It is noted that ) when multiple solutions to an item are possible, it is still possible to find a best, correct solution by applying a few rules that most scientists would apply; 2) though the lack of plural solutions in such items is desirable, it is not essential in order for the item to be a helpful predictor; 3) when application of routine procedures will yield a solution, the use of such applications may itself be relevant; and 4) though the use of these items is imperfect as a predictor of success in creative, scientific work, "up to the present time, the evidence has indicated that mental tests have provided the most accurate means by which such predictions can be made."

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