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The Relationship of Problem-Solving Styles to the Factor Composition of Tests

French, John Winslow, 1918-
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Office of Naval Research, Cognitive Style, Cognitive Tests, Factor Structure, Kit of Reference Tests for Cognitive Factors, Problem Solving, Test Format


This study was undertaken to learn more about the way in which the characteristics being measured by a test vary with the kind of examinee taking the test or with the problem-solving style she uses in approaching test problems. The problem-solving approaches used for dividing many of the pairs of subsamples distinguished some kind of systematizing approach from a scanning approach. This is a distinction emphasized by Bloom and Broden and probably related to Gardner's Focusing vs. Scanning and Witkin's Analytic Attitude or Field-Independence. While some of the divisions into pairs of subsamples revealed no substantial differences either in the loadings of the 15 tests on the factor which usually characterized it best. Also, for subjects using a systematic rather than an intuitive or scanning approach to test items, the space factor was usually found to be relatively less correlated with the verbal and mathematical factors and the verbal and mathematical factors were found to be more highly correlated with each other. An attempt is made to account for these findings psychologically by supposing that systematic persons develop specialized techniques for solving the visible, concrete spatial problems that are quite different from the symbolic techniques that they can use for solving problems in either of the symbolic areas, verbal and mathematics.

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