Personality Characteristics and the Nature of Standardized Test Score Interventions
Markowitz, Eliz A.
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While standardized tests (STs) intend to measure student achievement, the success of the test preparation industry calls the claim into question. The goal of test preparation is simple: for a price, provide students with content superseding techniques (CSTs) that neglect the difficult content to raise ST scores. Purpose: The success of the standardized test industry indicates that high ST scores may simply reflect a personality amenable to memorization of CSTs, instead of reflecting student achievement or aptitude. This study intends to determine whether students are able to achieve higher STS with content-based or CST-based methods, and the personality traits that are associated with STS increases. The study design is a pre-post test design with three groups: a content-based group, a CST-based group, and a control group, which participated in neither intervention. N = 173 participants were undergraduates in the teacher education program at the University of Houston, took equivalent pre- and post-tests consisting of PPR items from released exams, and completed two personality measures (the NEO-PI-R and the TACO inventory). Results: There was a statistically significant difference at the p < 0.10 level, set a priori, in score change for the three intervention groups: F (2, 124) = 2.84, p = 0.06. The actual difference in mean score change between the content-based intervention (0.11) and technique-based intervention (0.68) was relatively large. The effect size of the gain, calculated using Cohen’s d, was 0.34, a medium effect size. Individuals are able to achieve significant STS increases without necessarily understanding the content a ST intends to assess. Eliminating STs, or developing alternative performance measures, could rectify flaws with the current evaluation system and improve learning and teaching of content.