In the light of the recent (Feb 2015) Government gazette publication regarding the psychometric testing of drivers and operators of equipment, these few thoughts might offer some understanding.
Psychometric Testing – Myth or Monster?
A psychometric test is not like a driver license test that measures if you can or can’t drive a vehicle. A psychometric/psychomotor test measures strengths and weaknesses.
Psychometric testing has developed a somewhat sinister label. This could be due to the mistaken view that it is a discriminatory practice. In the current world political situation this of course finds fertile ground for stoking fear and anger. In reality the results make it a useful tool for both the employer and employee and is a SWOT instrument. The psychometric test results are available to evaluate skills, potential or even develop a training program.
What then is a Psychomotor Test?
Fortune tellers, soothsayers and psychics’ have all been either revered or loathed depending on what they foretell. Good news is always readily welcomed and bad news not.
Psychometrics fortunately is not a “secret, magical” activity.
For many years people have been given simple tasks to identify capability or suitability for a specific role.
Early examples are even found in the Bible with Gideon using the way in which his warriors drank water at a river. From his observations, he selected the “best” .
Psychometric measurement in reality is a composite collection of data. The data is systematized and collected to produce a template. This template is of course not fixed but rather flexible, it wouldn’t do to use Gideon’s method to select American Navy seals today but some of the principles are nevertheless identical.
In 1934 a test using colours and interference of words was developed. This test, the “Stroop” test was and still is very effective at assessing divergent or divided thinking where interference plays a role.
The test is a good indicator of how a court stenographer could be distracted and also how a NASA rocket flight controller could be distracted if given mixed mental inputs! This also applies to electricians, train drivers, miners and even financial fund managers.
Is it Scientific and does it test for what we want?
Many studies with all the statistical backup have confirmed that psychometrics are reliable, repeatable and verifiable. That means it is trustworthy and not favouring a specific group, ie it is not threatening but simply measures actions.
That is of course provided that the good ones are used. Psychometrics are good but also bad if used by the wrong people with the wrong motives, much like used car sales people are perceived as good or bad depending on the outcome of your interaction.
What is Psychometric Testing used for?
The mind-body relationship can only be tested or evaluated by using a tool designed to identify skills or traits. As in the section above, a brief description of a psychometric test is a tool to measure a person’s functioning on a mind level. The Dover Test is an example of this type of test
It is not used to identify “abnormalities” but rather identify how the mind and body act and react.
A test of speed and distance measures what the mind sees and how the person reacts (mind=psyche, motor/metric = reaction). It is used worldwide to measure if a component that is deemed necessary for a specific job is present or not. The job description therefore directs what is being looked for in the test.
“Different strokes for different folks” (Is it specific?)
For a psychometric assessment to have the most value, we must have a specific task in mind. We must know what we are looking for and then use the appropriate tool in the prescribed manner and then the best results will manifest.
Here at Dover, the mandate was to find a suitable tool to identify the high risk, high consequence type of machine operators that David Broadbent identifies, where he unpacks some elements of managing a safety culture in Sheqafrica.com, Jan 25, 2016.
To this end we paid less attention to the soft skills and more attention to the hard practical skills.
Not that “soft skills” don’t matter but they were really seen as the by-product of safe, proficient and consistent operators. These skills were the basic life savers and needed to be identified and managed (training, reassessment, evaluations etc.) The “soft skills” are used to create the culture of safety, integrity, loyalty etc.
Dover proved to be universally accepted as a culture free, language free, non-threatening means of identifying the correct mix of “brains and brawn”
The Dover Test is objective enough to identify the motor skills, depth perceptions, cognitive correlates, reaction times, information processing and even untapped areas such as visual field management.
The test is an advanced stimulus-response type of system with some sophistication built into the interpretation.
Reports of positive workplace attitudinal changes as well as safety awareness have been reported on a worldwide basis and are encouraging to hear.
At Dover we are continually developing these evaluations but sticking to the tried and tested as a baseline simply because of the reliability factor but not losing sight of developing trends.
With millions of folk tested worldwide, we feel confident that the Dover Test is working towards the goal of competence, productivity and above all Safety in the work place.