ASSESSMENT BATTERY 11
TheUse of a Natural Abilities Assessment Battery for Career and AcademicGuidance: An Application of the Highlands Assessment Battery (tHAB)
TheUse of a Natural Abilities Assessment Battery for Career and AcademicGuidance: An Application of the Highlands Assessment Battery (tHAB)
Educationand educational institutions play a great role in shaping the careerpaths to be taken by their students. Institutions of learning haveestablished academic and career guidance departments which aid inshaping their students towards choosing the careers that suit themaccording to their abilities (Zunker, 2002). Guidance in careersplays an important role towards the attainment of the vast goalsestablished by professional and labor markets. Well establishedcareer counseling programs have the ability to promote equity amongthe members of an institution. Since social mobility does not justentail the acquisition of the required information, skills andknowledge, a well-established understanding of how to use them isrequired for career development. Most professional fields of traininghave shifted their focus to teaching their students the skillsrelated to what they are likely to find in their fields of work(Zunker, 2002). Exposure to self-assessment skills in naturallearning and other areas like interpersonal communication skills,making decisions and solving problems are very important in careerdevelopment yet they are not met by most professional trainingcurricular. While there is a widening mission in academic and careerguidance to be a section of lifelong learning, there is need toestablish the natural abilities of students for effective careerestablishment (Breyer, Katz, and Duran, 2002). The use of theHighlands Ability Battery (tHAB) in the assessment of naturalabilities of students focuses on assisting learners as they considercareers that are fit with their personal and natural capabilities.
TheHABis an important tool which helps in categorizing students intovarious professions according to varied abilities. These include anindividual’s ability in music, design, reasoning and spatialabilities. It is designed to evaluate the innate natural abilitiespossessed by an individual rather than those skills acquired throughlearning. As an assessment tool, the HAB is categorized intonineteen work samples (dimensions). Each work sample evaluates avaried talent in a learner and is made up of objectives and hands-onmeasures which give percentile ranking. The results of the measuresin styles and talents give the participant the capability to decideon their study methods, career selection and management (Brow, Harveyand Stiles,2001). The identified talents are constant all through anindividual’s adulthood period and can be used for evaluation in thewhole course of their careers.
TheHighlands Ability Battery has seen developments since its inception.Through constant use, it has given rise to computer administeredtests which take 210 minutes. This tool has undergone thoroughassessment for validity and reliability, making it highly suitable.The 19 dimensions of evaluation by this tool have been put into threecategories namely personal style, driving abilities and specializedabilities. Personal style assesses the level to which an individualcan specialize or generalize, the extent of introversion orextroversion and time frame. While a specialist’s concern isknowing a number of details, a generalist’s concern is seeing thebigger picture with little concerns on the finer points (Maslach andGoldberg 1999).
Thisassessment depends on the already known facts to draw conclusionsconcerning the tests. In this section, the researcher highlightsdifferent categories that are measured on the Highlands AbilityBattery. This can be summarized in three broad classes: personalstyle, Driving abilities, and specialized abilities. Under personalstyle there is: Specialized-Generalization, Introversion-extroversionand time frame. Classification, idea productivity, organization ofconcepts, spatial relations theory and visualization entail thedriving abilities category. Lastly, specialized abilities comprise ofverbal memory, design memory, tonal Memory, rhythm memory and numbermemory:
CategoriesMeasured on the Highlands Ability Battery (tHAB)
The table below puts the 19 dimensions of the HAB into its 3categories.
Specialization-Generalization: a measure of the ability to give rise to a new and unique response and perspective
Introversion- Extroversion: a measure of an individual’s wants to be alone
Time frame: a measure of an individual’s sense of the period taken to think about the future. Scores: (up to 1 year: short, 1 to 5 years: mid, over 5 years: long)
Classification: Ability to solve a problem in non-logical, right brained and holistic way with application of inductive reasoning. Scores: (identification of a solution in a rapid way –high, implementation- low)
Organization of Concepts: ability to solve problems using logical, linear and left brained way with application of deductive reasoning. Scores: (linear, logical- high, decisive-low)
Idea Productivity: a measure of an individual’s ability to give rise to ideas (not the rate of at which ideas flow or the measure of creativity). Scores: (brainstormer-high, Focused- low )
Spatial Relations Theory: the ability of an individual to put 3D objects and spaces into visualization and manipulate them: great focus is put on the ability to visualize space. Scores : (Systematic-high, compartmental- low)
Spatial Relations Visualization: the ability to cognitively visualize and manipulate 3D spaces and objects: great focus is put on the ability to manipulate and manipulate objects. Scores: (high-concrete/ structural, low-abstract/ intangible).
3. Specialized Abilities
Verbal Memory: a measure of an individual’s ability to recall written information also known as learning through reading.
Design Memory: the ability of a learner to recall and visualize information presented in 2D. It focuses on visual learning particularly the used of visual patterns, pictures, charts and graphs.
Tonal Memory: learning through listening
Rhythm Memory: kinesthetic learning
Number memory: an individual’s ability to remember in a non-associative manner. Also called rote learning.
TheHAB scores for each partaker are reported as percentile ranks with acomparison to the scores of other individuals being tested. The ranksare categorized to fall into specialized ranges. The minimum rangeentails scores in and below the 35thpercentile. The mid-range contains scores from the 36thto the 64thpercentile, while scores above the 64thpercentile are categorized as high. Brown, Harvey and Stiles, (1999)reveal that the HAB is neither an IQ nor achievement test. It employsa combination of scores which may fall in the high, mid and lowranges. There are strengths and challenges brought about by thesescores, whether they are ranked as high, mid or low (Maslach andGoldberg, 1999).
TheHighlands Ability Battery Measurement Scale
Thetable below shows how scores are represented on the HAB scale. Thescore by percentage for each category is represented by the use ofdots.
Spatial Relations Theory
Spatial Relations Visualization
Moststudents lack interest in self-assessment as attributed to the costof such tools. For this reason, the test was applied to 100 studentsin CDs. The participants were required to sign an agreement that theywould fully undertake the assessment in 210 minutes. They were thenrequired to attend a feedback session which would strictly last for180 minutes. This was meant to enable them comprehend the meaning ofthe scores they attained. Data on the three categories of HAB wascompiled by use of percentages and comparisons were drawn betweenthese students’ results and norms. The results for each representedgroup were reported as percentages in the low mid and high ranges.
Thedata in numerical form presented represents 172 pupils selected fromyear 9 to year 12, 86 first year students and 86 second yearstudents. The norm group was obtained from the HAB database andrepresents the results obtained from all initial partakers of thistest. These are majorly American students and adults who volunteeredto take the test. (N is equal to 18,264). The norm group consists of56% males and 44% females. The age distribution for the norm groupwas as follows: 15-21 years were 32%, 24% were those aged between 22and 30 years, those between 31 and 39 years were 18%, 12% were thoseaged between 40 and 55 years while those whose age was 56 and abovewere 4%. A large number of participants in the norm group was agedabove 21 years and consisted college graduates.
Inthis study, 41% of the total selected students scored in thespecialists range, 30% scored the generalist range while 29% of thispopulation attained the mid-range. 53% of the selected students wereintroverts, 27% got the mid-range score while 20% were extroverts.22% of these students were depicted as immediate time frame plannerswhile 55% scored as long term planners and 23% scored in themid-range. The graphs represented below give a clear comparison ofthe selected students and the norm.
Moreof the selected students attained high range scores compared to thosewho attained mid and low range scores in all tests of drivingabilities. The greatest driving ability for the selected sample wasconcept organization as 69% of these students scored highly.Classification as a method of solving problems had an average of 49%for high range 26% for mid-range while 25% of these students were inthe low range. A large number of students were in the mid-range,translating to 45%, while 29% scored in the high range and 26% in thelow range for idea productivity. In general, all the spatial scoresfor the selected students were very strong. Half of the selectedsample scored highly in spatial fields tested. The graph above givesa summary of the comparison between the scores of the norm and thoseof the selected students.
TheHighlands Ability Battery measures 9 specialized abilities. Educatorshave particular interests on the learning modes and channels whichenable learners to gain new information and knowledge in an easy way(Maslach and Goldberg, 1999). Five learning channels of the HAB havebeen identified to be of great concern to educational instructors.They include visual learning (design memory), reading (Verbalmemory), hearing, rhythm memory and rote learning. The selectedstudents attained mid and high scores in these channels oflearning.78% of these students scored highly in design memory whichis a very vital channel of learning. In reading (verbal memory), 57%of the sampled students got high scores, 25% attained mid scoreswhile 18% of these learners got low scores. In rote learning (numbermemory), half of the students got high scores, while 27% and 23%scored in the low and mid ranges respectively. In rhythm memory, 56%,25% and 29% got scores in the high, mid and low ranges respectively.These students performed poorly in in auditory learning with 32%, 23%and 45%attaining high, mid and low scores respectively. The graphbelow gives a comparison of the selected students and the norm.
Fromthe graph, it is true to conclude that the selected students havewell developed learning abilities in comparison with the norm. Theselearning abilities can further be ranked based on the scorepercentiles. The ranked results act as a tool to be used in careerguidance and counselling for each student undertaking the test.
Theinterests and abilities of an individual are determined by what aperson can do in a fast and easy way. They have the ability toinfluence the manner in which a person learns in an instinctive way,communicates, solves problems, uses mental and creative talents andmakes decisions. According to Breyer, Katz and Duran (2002), whileskills are learned, abilities are innate and are not affected bylearning experiences through education. They remain intact andunchanged throughout the adult stage of one’s life. By the timelearners reach year 9 of their studies, they have already gained therequired skills for their fields of academics. Through theidentification of the natural abilities in learners, self-assessmentand improvement is reached by the students leading to an improvedconsideration of the career path to be chosen by the learner (Zunker,2002). Through the use of work samples and timing, the HAB has theability to draw a discrimination between an individual’s abilitiesand skills. If the time of exposure to this test is not limited, thesampled students would have obtained constant high scores in eachactivity (Breyer, Katz and Duran, 2002). Limiting the time for thistest reduces the chances of the students to score beyond theircapabilities since they can only complete the activities which depicttheir natural capabilities in quick and accurate ways.
Brown,Harvey and Stiles (2002) affirm that many students receive theresults of their HAB with a lot of surprises by the scores of theirnatural abilities. Admission into professional courses in college isa crucial process and calls for hard work and determination from thelearner. In the natural way, students who are talented in thephysical sciences have scored A grades in chemistry and physics in avery easy way as opposed to those who are less talented. This couldbe explained by the fact that the high achievers have well developedskills and abilities to imagine and manipulate structural conceptseasily. Natural abilities are easily applied in the fields of work asopposed to learned skills and improve the chances of growth in theprofessional fields. Through working in teams and groups, individualsgain the ability to appreciate the varied capabilities in otherpeople and gain skills of solving problems in different approaches.From this, learners relieve themselves of the anxieties of not beingable to perform well in all disciplines (Brown, Harvey and Stiles,2002).
Naturalabilities can result into a constellation which is well adopted to acareer and the environment. However, students are at times warned ofthe other factors to consider when making their choices. Such factorsinclude social aspects, economic issues, and influences from theenvironment and pressure from the family. Students must be informedof the career chances that will use their natural abilities to thegreatest extents. For instance, a learner with strong specialistabilities and is a great introvert with high scores in deductivereasoning should be encouraged to try the field of research to seeits suitability. A student with strong generalization skills, veryhighly extroverted with big scores in tonal memory should beencouraged to enter into a career field with a high volume mixedpractice to listen to people and help them. A student with a verylong time frame and high scores as an extrovert could be encouragedto take a field involving corporate practice or policy development.
Thispaper has created an assessment battery for working with students9-12 and first and second year college students. Specifically thepaper highlights the use of a natural ability assessment battery forcareer and academic guidance. To illustrate this clearly, theresearcher has employed an application of the Highlands AssessmentBattery. This approach focuses on assisting learners as they considercareers that are suitable with their individual and naturalcapabilities. The tool is very essential as it helps in categorizingstudents into various professions according to varied abilities. Toperform the assessment, a test was applied to 100 students in CDs.The participants were required to sign an agreement that they wouldfully undertake the assessment in 210 minutes. They were thenrequired to attend a feedback session which would strictly last for180 minutes. The norm group was obtained from the HAB database andrepresents the results obtained from all initial partakers of thistest. The results were categorized depending on different abilities.The results indicate that natural abilities are easily applied in thefields of work as opposed to learned skills and improve the chancesof growth in the professional fields. A student with stronggeneralization skills, very highly extroverted with big scores intonal memory should be encouraged to enter into a career field with ahigh volume mixed practice to listen to people and help them.
Brown,C. C., Harvey, S. B., & Stiles, D. (2011). Using a naturalabilities battery for academic and career guidance: a ten-year study.Journal of veterinary medical education,38(3), 270-277.
Breyer,F. J., Katz, J., & Duran, M. (2002). A report on the statisticalcharacteristics of The Highlands Ability Battery CD.
Maslach,C., & Goldberg, J. (1999). Prevention of burnout: Newperspectives. Appliedand preventive psychology,7(1), 63-74.
Zunker,V. G. (2002). Career counseling:Applied concepts of life planning.Wadsworth Publishing Company.