Effectiveness of any counselor could be queried without the use of psychological test because they are good tools that will enable him understands his client fully. The process of understanding client must be systematic and objective; therefore, psychological test will help the counselor to be familiar with social, physical, emotional, and psychological conditions of his client before assistance can be given.
Human behavior is very intricate and complex and so in dealing with individuals or client, counselors should always aim at utilizing psychological test to be able to discover the accurate psychological condition of their clients.
What is a Test?
A test is an instrument used for measuring sample of observable behavior in man. In other words, it could be defined as a stimulus administered or presented to the examinee with a view to eliciting response. This implies that a test has to be planned, constructed, administered, scored and analyzed before the final reporting.
Test can be defined as systematic procedure for comparing behavior of two or more persons.
What is Psychological Test?
Psychological Test is defined as a form of appraisal service guidance counselors give within the clinical setting which consist of both objective (standardized test) and subjective (non-tests) forms.
Psychology test can also be defined as a measure of a sample of behavior. In essence, a psychological test should show or indicate how an individual is similar to, or different from others.
Psychological test could therefore be seen as a test that tends to show and manifest the complete behavior of an individual through certain items already constructed.
Uses of Psychological Test in Counseling
One of the tools in the hand of a good counselor is psychological test which helps him to understand the strengths and weaknesses of individuals.
Whenever a psychological test is administered, it should serve one of the following uses;
- Prediction: The use of a psychological test will enable a counselor to obtain a measure of ability, aptitude, achievement and other characteristics which will give the counselor the basis for his decision. Prediction in this sense means it should be able to forecast how well an individual will perform in future tasks.
- Selection: Institutions of learning such as Universities, Polytechnics, Monotechnics, Colleges of Education e.t.c. make use of tests to accept or reject prospective students. Tests can also help organizations to make decisions on who to employ based on selection decisions.
- Classification: Tests can be used to group students or pupils into various classes based on their ability or educational background.
- Placement: Test can be used to assign individuals to different levels of work based on an individual’s personal characteristics such as abilities, interests, aptitudes, capabilities.
- Evaluation: Tests are used to evaluate counseling outcomes in order to assess the worth of counseling work. In essence, counselors may use tests to determine how effective or otherwise a counseling technique is in a situation.
- Diagnosis: Psychological tests may also be used to pinpoint the difficulty of a student on how to cope with his social environment, problem related to the student’s growth and development, or academic deficiencies impeding a client’s academic growth. If that is done, it becomes possible for the counselor and client to set up plans to resolve the difficulty.
- Identification: Tests are used to identify individual differences in such areas as student ability, interest and aptitude.
- Guidance: They can be used to guide individuals to make useful decisions in the area of education and vocation. Such guidance will enable individuals to reach their goals without much stress.
- Educational/ Vocational decision: With the aid of Psychological test, occupational or educational decisions can easily be made by parents, teachers and students. When parents understand their children’s abilities, potentialities, interests and capabilities, they can help their children consider the best plans that suit the child’s goals.
- Adjustment: Students are given the opportunity of knowing the result of their tests during counseling. The result which aims at facilitating and enhancing personal realization of self can restructure their cognitive skills for adequate adjustments. It can also indicate the changes that are needed in some aspects of an individual’s environment.
Types of Psychological Test used in School Counselling
- Achievement Test: An achievement test is a test designed to measure the extent to which a learner has gained or achieved, usually through the effect of specific teaching or training in an area of the curriculum. Example of an achievement test is a teacher – made class test. Achievement test is used for selection of students into secondary school like the Common Entrance Examination (CEE) conducted by WAEC, the selection into Universities like the JAMB, the General Certificate of Education (GCE), the West Africa School Certificate (WASC). The tests are fairly standardized This test could be diagnostic with the aim to help the teacher and counselor to determine the pupils’ performance and provide information on their weaknesses and strengths in a given school subject.
- Prognostic or Readiness Achievement Tests: This is a type of test that is used to predict performance of individuals in school subjects such as Mathematics, French and other foreign languages.
- Intelligence Tests: Intelligence tests are designed to measure learning ability. They measure the general level of education of any person. This capacity to learn has been associated with inheritance and environment. While some argue that intelligence is inherited, some say it is acquired. However, tests that are built to discover how much of this general capability one has are referred to as intelligence tests. This category of tests is used to predict achievement in different areas of learning.
- Aptitude Test: An Aptitude test is one designed to predict future performance of students in some activities or course of learning. It measures students’ ability to learn new tasks or to benefit from a course. An aptitude test may range from one testing general scholastic ability to one narrowed down to measure a single ability e.g creativity, Mathematical aptitude e.t.c.
- Interest Tests: Interest tests are sometimes used to get a measure of an individual’s feeling of like or dislike. California Test of Maturity (CTMM) can show the vocational thinking of students. A local example is the Vocational Interest Inventory (VII) by Bakare frequently used for secondary school students during counseling. It is used to identify the vocational interests of the students. Another is the Motivation for Occupational Preference Scale (MOPS) by Bakare. It is used to identify occupational preference and the reasons for choosing such occupations. Examples of internationally developed are:
- Kuder Occupational Interest Survey (KOIS) used to point out the vocations with which students may not be familiar.
- The Strong Vocational Interest Blank (SVIB)
- The Ohio Vocational Interest Survey (OVIS). The test items are based on the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT).
- Personality Test: This is also known as “Personality Inventory” or scale of personal characteristics. It is used to examine the affective or non-intellectual aspects of behavior. Personality tests can be used to test areas like emotional stability, friendliness, motivation, dominance, interests, attitudes, leadership, social ability, introversion and extroversion.
- Projective Techniques: Projective techniques attempt to explore the private personality and allow the individual to become much more involved in the responses. Projective technique assesses the mind of the individual which under normal circumstances cannot be assessed using objective test inştrument. Examples of projective techniques are; Rorschach Inkblot, Thematic Appreciation Test, completion Picture-true- arrangement, checklist e.t.c.
Apart from the above mentioned type of psychological testing used in counseling, there are also some non-tests forms of appraisal techniques. These are:
- Observation Technique: This is an act of watching individuals, events or situations in a systematic manner in order to obtain information about a specific behavior or situation. When observation is used, it gives researcher the opportunity to get first-hand information.
There are two types of observation. These are participant and non-participant observation.
In participant observation, the researcher is part of the group to be observed. He may be a regular member of the system or group being observed or he may join the group or system for the purpose of conducting the observation. This is done in order that the individuals being observed do not become suspicious of the researcher’s motives observation.
In non-participant observation, the observer is not part of the observation. He does not belong to the group being observed. The two major instrument that the conduct of observation need are checklist and rating scale.
The checklist contains items which the researcher is to observe and the provision to indicate whether or not variable or items are present is not indicated.
The rating scale and checklist are almost the same thing; the only difference is that the observer indicates the extent or degree to which the variables or items are present. The degree or extent of frequency of behavior may be determined by using such words as frequent, occasionally, rarely or never e.t.c.
Advantages of Observation Method
- Researchers are able to see and describe behavior or situation in their natural form.
- It gives the researcher first-hand information about the behavior being assessed
- Behaviour that cannot be assessed through any other techniques can easily be observed through observation.
Disadvantages of Observation Method
- Behaviour that cannot be seen may be difficult to observe through observation method.
- It wastes a lot of time.
- People can easily fake their behavior if they notice that they are being observed.
2. Interview Technique of Data Collection: Interview is used to collect face to face information from the client through dialogue. This permits the researcher to obtain direct first-hand information about a person’s knowledge, his value, his preference, his experience as well as his attitudes and beliefs. Interview should be in line with the objective of the study. The major work of the researcher is to ask questions and record responses.
Types of interview
There are two basic types of interview namely: Structured and unstructured interview: In structured interview, the researcher has a list of questions which are arranged in sequential order. These questions guide his discussion with his client. In a structured interview, the same questions are given to various respondents. In addition, structured interview is more scientific then the unstructured one and gives room for objective tabulation of responses.
Structured interview is not but with its own disadvantages. These are its rigidity which may restrict the researcher from probing further. The researcher does not enjoy any freedom since he is not allowed to ask more than what is listed in the questions. In addition, the respondent may feel restricted in the responses they are allowed to make.
Unstructured interview is another type of interview. This gives the researcher the opportunity not to follow any laid down principle of asking questions. The interview is more or less non-directive and a question answered by the client may lead to another question. The respondents have the freedom of expressing themselves better than in structured form.
Uses of structured interview are:
- It can serve to suggest ideas for writing structured items
- it assists to check the validity of the structured interview.
- it makes the report of a structured interview to be more comprehensive.
Major disadvantage of unstructured interviews is that it is difficult to quantify the collected data. Generalization of information is also very difficult.
Advantages of Interview Method
- It is flexible and applicable to different types of problems.
- It is a good instrument to elicit response from children and illiterates.
- It is useful to gather additional information. It is easy for the researcher to know the reaction of respondents while the interview is going on.
Disadvantages of Interview method
- Generalization is not possible when unstructured interview is used.
- The personal feeling and belief of interviewer may affect the result of the interview.
- The technique is time – consuming.
- Unstructured interview is difficult to quantify.
3. Autobiographies: Using history of great men and women to motivate the young ones can give them sense of direction. Children or individual could be asked to write what they want to be in life. With this defect in personality make up could be worked upon to ensure an adjusted individual.
Characteristics of a good test
In order to be sure that decision taken when a test is used is an authentic decision, the test must be valid, reliable and consistent.
Validity: This simply mean accuracy. A test is therefore expected to measure what it is expected to measure in counseling since there are some traits that a counselor may want to measure in a client. A good test must measure that particular trait which is accurate and relevant to the behavior which is assessed.
Type of validity
- Content Validity: A test has content validity if it adequately samples behavior that has been the goal of instruction. Does the test adequately represent the material that was taught? For example testing a minor portion of a unit on Hamlet after stressing the unity of the total play violates content validity. Determining whether a test has content validity is somewhat subjective. It is usually established when subject matter experts agree that the content covered is representative of the tested domain of knowledge. Content validity is also referred to as face validity because judgments about content are based on reading the content.
- Criterion-Related validity: A test has criterion validity if its result is parallel to some other, external criteria. Thus, test result is similar or not similar to another sample of a student’s behavior (some other criterion for comparison). If students do well on a standardized reading test that measures all aspects of reading, they should likewise do well in completing and understanding geography and history assignments. Some authors refer to this type of validity as predictive validity. You can understand how this kind of validity is valuable for the teacher, particularly in assessing the validity of teacher-made achievement tests.
- Construct Validity: A test is said to have construct validity when it measures the particular knowledge of domain or behavior purported to be measured. For example, a teacher may claim that his or her test measures understanding and not facts. If the results of the test agreed with ratings of students on understanding, then the test indeed measures the construct of understanding. If a test claims to measure anxiety, then its result should match judgment of people, identified as anxious. Construct validity is a complex issue and is increasingly coming to refer to the entire body of research about what a test measures
Reliability: A test is reliable to the extent that a student’s scores are nearly the same on repeated measurements. Reliability concerns questions such as: Do two forms of a test yield similar results? If the test is repeated after a certain time interval, how consistent are the results? Some error always exists in any test since fluctuations in human behavior are uncontrollable, and the test itself may contain possibilities of error. As errors in measurement increase, the reliability of the test decreases. Note that various procedures are involved in estimating reliability such as internal consistency; alternate forms reliability comparable forms reliability and test retest reliability
Types of Reliability
There are four major types of reliability namely,
- Inter-rater: Different people, same test.
- Test-retest: Same people, different times.
- Parallel-forms: Different people, same time, different test.
- Internal consistency: Different questions, same construct.
When multiple people are giving assessments of some kind or are the subjects of some tests, then similar people should lead to the same resulting scores. It can be used to calibrate people, for example those being used as observers in an experiment.
Inter-rater reliability thus evaluates reliability across different people.
Two major ways in which inter-rater reliability is used are;
- testing how similarly people categorize items, and
- how similarly people score items.
This is the best way of assessing reliability when you are using observation, as observer bias very easily creeps in. It does however, assume you have multiple observers, which is not always the case.
Inter-rater reliability is also known as inter-observer reliability or inter-coder reliability.
Two people may be asked to categorize pictures of animals as being dogs or cats. A perfectly reliable result would be that they both classify the same pictures in the same way.
Observers being used in assessing prisoner stress are asked to assess several ‘dummy’ people who are briefed to respond in a programmed and consistent way. The variation in results from a standard gives a measure of their reliability.
In a test scenario, an IQ test applied to several people with a true score of 120 should result in a score of 120 for everyone. In practice, there will be some variation between people.
An assessment or test of a person should give the same results whenever you apply the test.
Test-retest reliability evaluates reliability across time.
Reliability can vary with the many factors that affect how a person responds to the test, including their mood, interruptions, time of day, etc. A good test will largely cope with such factors and give relatively little variation. An unreliable test is highly sensitive to such factors and will give widely varying results, even if the person re-takes the same test half an hour later.
Generally speaking, the longer the delay between tests, the greater the likely variation. Better tests will give less retest variation with longer delays.
Of course the problem with test-retest is that people may have learned and that the second test is likely to give different results. This method is particularly used in experiments that use a no-treatment control group that is measure pre-test and post-test.
Various questions for a personality test are tried out with a class of students over several years. This helps the researcher determine those questions and combinations that have better reliability.
In the development of national school tests, a class of children is given several tests that are intended to assess the same abilities. A week and a month later, they are given the same tests. With allowances for learning, the variation in the test and retest results are used to assess which tests have better test-retest reliability.
One problem with questions or assessments is knowing what questions are the best ones to ask. A way of discovering this is do two tests in parallel, using different questions.
Parallel-forms reliability evaluates different questions and question sets that seek to assess the same construct.
Parallel-Forms evaluation may be done in combination with other methods, such as Split-half, which divides items that measure the same construct into two tests and applies them to the same group of people.
An experimenter develops a large set of questions. They split these into two and administer them each to a randomly-selected half of a target sample.
In development of national tests, two different tests are simultaneously used in trials. The test that gives the most consistent results is used, whilst the other (provided it is sufficiently consistent) is used as a backup.
Internal Consistency Reliability
When asking questions in research, the purpose is to assess the response against a given construct or idea. Different questions that test the same construct should give consistent results.
Internal consistency reliability evaluates individual questions in comparison with one another for their ability to give consistently appropriate results.
Average inter-item correlation compares correlations between all pairs of questions that test the same construct by calculating the mean of atl paired correlations.
Average item total correlation takes the average inter-item correlations and calculates a total score for each iterm, then averages these.
Split-half correlation divides items that measure the same construct into two tests, which are applied to the same group of people and then calculates the correlation between the two total scores.
Cronbach’s alpha calculates an equivalent to the average of all possible split-half correlations and is calculated thus:
a = (N . r-bar) / (1 + (N-1). r-bar) Where N is the number of components, and r-bar is the average of all Pearson correlation coefficients.
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