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Psychological Testing and Assessment, 9th Edition

Psychological Testing and Assessment, 9th Edition

Author: Ronald Jay Cohen, Mark E. Swerdlik

Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education


Publish Date: May 1, 2017

ISBN-10: 1259870502

Pages: 704

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

We are proud to welcome instructors of a measurement course in psychology to this ninth edition of Psychological Testing and Assessment. Thank you for the privilege of assisting in the exciting task of introducing the world of tests and measurement to your students. In this preface, we impart our vision for a measurement textbook, as well as the philosophy that has driven, and that continues to drive, the organization, content, writing style, and pedagogy of this book. We’ll briefly look back at this book’s heritage and discuss what is new and distinctive about this ninth edition. Of particular interest to instructors, this preface will overview the authors’ general approach to the course content and distinguish how that approach differs from other measurement textbooks. For students who happen to be curious enough to read this preface (or ambitious enough to read it despite the fact that it was not assigned), we would hope that your takeaway from it has to do with the authors’ genuine dedication to making this book the far and-away best available textbook for your measurement course.

Our Vision for a Textbook on Psychological Testing and Assessment First and foremost, let’s get out there that the subject matter of this course is psychologica testing and assessment—a fact that is contrary to the message conveyed by an array of would-be competitor books, all distinguished by their anachronistic “psychological testing” title. Of course we cover tests and testing, and no available textbook does it better or more comprehensively. But it behooves us to observe that we are now well into the twenty-first century and it has long been recognized that tests are only one tool of assessment. Psychological testing is a process that can be perhaps reminiscent of those books with the same title— impersonal, noncreative, uninspired, routine, and even robotic in nature. By contrast, psychological assessment is a very human, dynamic, custom, creative, and collaborative enterprise. These aspects of the distinction between psychological testing and psychological assessment are not trivial.

Paralleling important differences between our book’s title and that of other books in this area are key differences in the way that the subject matter of the course is approached. In routine writing and through a variety of pedagogical tools, we attempt to draw students into the world of testing and assessment by humanizing the material. Our very human approach to the course material stands in stark contrast to the “by-the-numbers” approach of some of our competitors; the latter approach can easily alienate readers, prompting them to “tune out.” Let’s briefly elaborate on this critical point.

Although most of our competitors begin by organizing their books with an outline that for the most part mimics our own—right down to the inclusion of the Statistics Refresher that we innovated some 30 years ago—the way that they cover that subject matter, and the pedagogical tools they rely on to assist student learning, bear only cosmetic resemblance to our approach. We take every opportunity to illustrate the course material by putting a human face to it, and by providing practical, “every day” examples of the principles and procedures at work. This approach differs in key ways from the approach of other books in the area, where a “practical approach” may instead be equated with the intermingling of statistical or other exercises within every chapter of the book. Presumably, according to the latter vision, a textbook is a simultaneous delivery system for both course-related information and course-related exercises. Students are expected to read their textbooks until such time that their reading is interrupted by an exercise.

After the completion of the exercise, students are expected to go back to the reading, but only until they happen upon another exercise. It is thus the norm to interrupt absorption in assigned reading on a relatively random (variable ratio) schedule in order to have students complete general, one-size-fits-all exercises. Students using such a book are not encouraged to concentrate on assigned reading; they may even be tacitly encouraged to do the opposite. The emphasis given to students having to complete exercises scattered within readings seems especially misplaced when, as is often the case with such one-size-fits-all tasks, some of the exercises will be way too easy for students in some classes and way too difficult for students in others. This brings to mind our own experience with testing-related exercises being assigned to varied groups of introductory students.

For several years and through several editions, our textbook was published with a supplementary exercises workbook. After extensive feedback from many instructors, some of whom used our book in their classes and some of whom did not, we determined that matters related to the choice, content, and level of supplementary exercises were better left to individual instructors as opposed to textbook authors. In general, instructors preferred to assign their own supplementary exercises, which could be custom-designed for the needs of their particular students and the goals of their particular course. A workbook of exercises, complete with detailed, step-by-step, illustrated solutions of statistical and psychometric problems, was determined by us to add little value to our textbook and it is therefore no longer offered. What we learned, and what we now believe, is that there is great value to supplementary, ancillary exercises for students taking an introductory course in measurement. However, these exercises are of optimal use to the student when they are custom-designed (or selected) by the instructor based on factors such as the level and interest of the students in the class, and the students’ in-class and out-of-class study schedule. To be clear, supplemental exercises randomly embedded in a textbook work, in our view, not to facilitate students’ immersion and concentration in assigned reading, but to obliterate it.1

Given the fact that decisions regarding supplementary exercises are best left to individual instructors, the difference between our own approach to the subject matter of the course and that of other approaches are even more profound. In this ninth edition, we have concentrated our attention and effort to crafting a textbook that will immerse and involve students in assigned readings and motivate them to engage in critical and generative thinking about what they have read. Contrast that vision with one in which author effort is divided between writing text and writing nonsupplementary exercises. Could the net result of the latter approach be a textbook that divides student attention between assigned readings and assigned (or unassigned) exercises? Seasoned instructors may concur with our view that most students will skip the intrusive and distracting exercises when they are not specifically assigned for completion by the instructor. In the case where the exercises are assigned, students may well skim the reading to complete the exercises.

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