Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Classic articles in special education

What are the "classic" articles in special education that should be read by those in the field?   A recent empirical investigation of this question was recently published in the Remedial and Special Education.  The reference and abstract is below.

  • Mcleskey, J. & Landers, E. (2006).  Classic Articles in Special Education An Exploratory Investigation.  Remedial and Special Education, 27(2),68–76.  (Click to view)
Abstract
  • This exploratory investigation sought to identify classic articles from the general special education literature that were published between 1960 and 1989. Initially, widely cited articles that were published during this time in Exceptional Children, Remedial and Special Education, and The Journal of Special Education were identified. Faculty from doctoral degree–granting institutions of higher education were then surveyed regarding which of these widely cited articles should be considered classics. Twelve articles, addressing such topics as mainstreaming or inclusion, student identification, curriculum-based measurement, efficacy of mainstreaming/inclusion programs, secondary curriculum and transition from school to work, and curricula for students with severe disabilities, were identified as classics. Directions for future research are discussed, including the need to clarify reliable methods for identifying classic articles and to identify classic articles in areas of specialization within special education. Finally, implications for practice are addressed.


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Off task - IQs Corner web coverage as art

(double click on image to make larger)

I just ran across an interesting site that creates a visual-map art-like image of websites. Above is how this humble blog (IQs Corner) currently looks on the web when the URL is entered into this site (click here).

Not sure how to interpret (key is below), but it does look pretty and impressive. I think it shows that this humble blog is spreading.

What do the colors mean?
  • blue: for links (the A tag)
  • red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
  • green: for the DIV tag
  • violet: for images (the IMG tag)
  • yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
  • orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
  • black: the HTML tag, the root node
  • gray: all other tags

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Neuroimaging and cognitive development research overview

FYI - A very interesting (and well-written) article is "in press" in Neuropsychologia that, I believe, captures the essence of the various tidbits I've gleaned from my skimming of literature in cognitive psychology, fMRI research, and general brain development and maturation.  The article speaks for itself.  The most important conclusion I gleaned, which is consistent with my other related readings (re: working memory; ADHD; mental time-keeping; cognitive control; controlled executive attention; executive functions; etc.), is the continued implication of the frontal lobes in various higher-level cognitive functioning, particularly that dealing with executive functions of cognitive control. 
  • Durston, S. & Casey, B. (in press).  What have we learned about cognitive development from neuroimaging?  Neuropsychologia (click to view)

Abstract
  • Changes in many domains of cognition occur with development. In this paper, we discuss neuroimaging approaches to understanding these changes at a neural level. We highlight how modern imaging methods such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) are being used to examine how cognitive development is supported by the maturation of the brain. Some reports suggest developmental changes in patterns of brain activity appear to involve a shift from diffuse to more focal activation, likely representing a fine-tuning of relevant neural systems with experience. One of the challenges in investigating the interplay between cognitive development and maturation of the brain is to separate the contributions of neural changes specific to development and learning. Examples are given from the developmental neuroimaging literature. The focus is on the development of cognitive control, as the protracted developmental course of this ability into adolescence raises key issues. Finally, the relevance of normative studies for understanding neural and cognitive changes in developmental disorders is discussed.


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Off task - anatomical curiousity illustrations


Thanks to Boing Boing for the interesting post re: anatomical curiousity illustrations. Take a peak if you need a break from your work.


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Free download of "Brain Facts" from Soceity for Neuroscience

Thanks to the braininjury blog for the tip regarding the ability to download (for free) a copy of Brain Facts, a primer on the brain and nervous system published by the Americian Society for Neuroscience.

As stated at the SFN web page:
  • Brain Facts
    is a 64-page primer on the brain and nervous system, published by the
    Society for Neuroscience. In addition to serving as a starting point
    for a lay audience interested in neuroscience, the book is used at the
    annual Brain Bee, which is held in conjunction with Brain Awareness Week. The 2005 revised edition of Brain Facts is available now in PDF format and in print.


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Gf an g--distinguishable or indistinguishable ? -- Guest post by John Garruto

The following is a guest post by John Garruto, school psychologist with the Oswego School District and member of the IQs Corner Virtual Community of Scholars. John reviewed the following article and has provided his comments below.
  • “Any intelligence test worth its salt has a matrices task on it.”-George McCloskey-NASP Toronto-2003.
Blair, C. (2006). How similar are fluid cognition and general intelligence? A developmental neuroscience perspective on fluid cognition as anaspect of human cognitive ability. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 29, 109-160. (Click here to view article).

Abstract
  • This target article considers the relation of fluid cognitive functioning to general intelligence. A neurobiological model differentiating working memory/executive function cognitive processes of the prefrontal cortex from aspects of psychometrically defined general intelligence is presented. Work examining the rise in mean intelligence-test performance between normative cohorts, the neuropsychology and neuroscience of cognitive function in typically and atypically developing human populations, and stress, brain development, and corticolimbic connectivity in human and nonhuman animal models is reviewed and found to provide evidence of mechanisms through which early experience affects the development of an aspect of cognition closely related to, but distinct from, general intelligence. Particular emphasis is placed on the role of emotion in fluid cognition and on research indicating fluid cognitive deficits associated with early hippocampal pathology and with dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis stress-response system. Findings are seen to be consistent with the idea of an independent fluid cognitive construct and to assist with the interpretation of findings from the study of early compensatory education for children facing psychosocial adversity and from behavior genetic research on intelligence. It is concluded that ongoing development of neurobiologically grounded measures of fluid cognitive skills appropriate for young children will play a key role in understanding early mental development and the adaptive success to which it is related, particularly for young children facing social and economic disadvantage. Specifically, in the evaluation of the efficacy of compensatory education efforts such as Head Start and the readiness for school of children from diverse backgrounds, it is important to distinguish fluid cognition from psychometrically defined general intelligence.

John Garruto's comments (with only minor edits by the blogmaster)

  • To begin with, this article was very lenghty and was difficult to summarize ala blog format. Half of it is a theoretical and literary review while the other half is peer commentary (which to be honest-I haven’t read it yet because I wanted to write my own thoughts and not be influenced by others.) So-I might write on the peer commentary later-or not. [Note to readers - all commentaries are included with the target article at the article link above.]
  • The purpose of this article is to separate ‘g’ (or overall general intellectual functioning) from ‘Gf’ (or fluid reasoning.) Blair begins by talking about what fluid reasoning is and ways that it can be measured (he usually cites Raven’s Progressive Matrices as a dependent measure of fluid reasoning). Overall he uses psychometric evidence of Gf (in terms of its relation to ‘g’ with research by Gustaffson), neuroscientific (in terms of results of MRI, PET, and fMRI studies showing activation or underactiviation of areas that relate to Gf output) and also psychiatric/developmental disorder problems (differentiating Gf skills of students with ADHD, CD, autistic, schizophrenic, PKU, and LD.)
  • In terms of dissociating ‘g’ from ‘Gf’, Blair highlighted different approaches. In one, he talked about how in the “standard” of IQ testing (the Wechsler), Gf is not even measured, yet ‘g’ is measured.
  • Fascinatingly, Blair focuses on neuropsychological issues that are related to Gf output. He talks about the corticolimbic circuit, which involves the interaction of the hippocampus, the amygdaloid structure, the anterior cingulate cortex, and the prefrontal cortex (PFC). As I understood the article, with the greater emotional roles played by some of these brain structures, excitation of emotion can inhibit the role of the PFC--having an adverse reaction on Gf. He further discusses the ramifications of adverse environmental experiences on the roles of Gf--specifically mentioning that a child being reared in a stressfull environment might present themseleves with inhibited Gf functioning. In terms of intervention, he mentions the role of Gf being explicitly taught..a position that merits additional research.
  • Much of this article was exciting to read. Admittingly, I'm only an advanced beginner in neuropsychology knowledge, but the article highlighted some important tenets. First, much of our functioning is related to the interdependence of various skills. Educators (and psychologists) seem to be drawn to the notion that deficits are localized in nature--but no matter what we’re looking at (e.g., interactions of neuropsychological processes, cognitive processes, or whatever) can have a multiplicative impact. We need to remember our basic statistics and be mindful that interactions can be substantial. Another important insight for me was the relationship of executive functioning to fluid intelligence. In the past I’ve always viewed EF as way by which we can be more efficient with our thinking--taking control and manipulating our processes. However, when I look at measures of EF (for example, card sorting tasks, or Concept Formation on the WJ-III--which taps both Gf and EF), the idea that Gf is related to EF (being explicitly stated in the article) has led me to think this is something I need to think about differently.
  • Much of this article was educational for me, but I nevertheless, I do have a few criticisms. First, although the article has a 2006 publication date (even give a few years for editorial review), the article focused primarily on older tests (including the old Wechsler and WJ-R and SB-IV)...most of which had revisions that I would imagine were available at the time the article was written. For example, the WISC-IV now includes measurement of Gf. In fact, it was George McCloskey (who gave a talk on executive processes in 2003 NASP workshop) where he said that any intelligence test that is worth its salt has a matrices task on it (hence the quote at the top of this blog post). Clearly the importance of Gf is being mentioned in many circles. Blair also talked about extracting the variance of Gf from ‘g’. I recall someone stating (on the NASP listserv) that “You can't remove the general ability variance from the test, and then look at what is left from the factors. The same variance that is in the factors is the same variance that is in the global ability score. These data are collinear." Now my knowledge of statistics also pales to this listserv poster, but it seemed to be an endorsement of something that shouldn’t be done. Also of importance, Blair extols the virtues of cross-battery assessment (and should be applauded for doing so) as a way to secure Gf measures above and beyond giving the WISC. As noted before, we’re well beyond that--contemporary CHC theory puts Gf in its own factor and many tests are measuring it (and some have measured it for years-such as the Differential Ability Scales in 1990!). Cross battery assessment is one way to do it. One could administer the WJ-III and get a Gf factor by giving two subtests. Furthermore, there is little talked about in terms of narrow abilities subsumed by Gf--which are very different from each other.
  • Blair spends much of his time supporting the notion of differentiating Gf from g. Such an approach seems worthwhile (actually most research that de-emphasizes ‘g’ outside of a mental retardation diagnosis gets high marks from me.) However, I remember being at a recent testing "best practice" conference where I had asked the speakers about their thoughts regarding the diagnosese of mental retardation if one or two subtests were in the below average to average range (some maintain that is evidence that there is no MR--but when you’re giving a lot of subtests--regression to the mean can be inevitable.) One of the speakers (John Willis) replied that he would be highly skeptical of an MR diagnosis if one of the factors that was in the low average range measured fluid reasoning.
  • Despite the above criticisms, the focus on the neuropsychological processes associated with fluid reasoning, as well as the notion of relating Gf to executive functions, are important. More important is that Gf has been thought to be relatively immune from cultural experiences...however; if the hypotheses of this article prove to be valid--then early environmental emotional stressors might have a negative impact on Gf--marking a significant contrast to the widely held belief that Gf is somewhat immune from these experiences. I believe this is an important article for school psychologists, learning disabilities specialists, specialists in intellectual functioning, and cognitive scientists to read. There were many points in this article that, due to space, I was not even able to touch upon.

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Honorary pro-ed Don Hammill chair


Many academics hope that one day, someone will recognize the excellence of their work, and they may receive an offer for an endowed chair at a prestigious university. I have yet to achieve such a distinction....BUT........I may have the ONLY honorary Don Hammill pro-ed chair!!!!!!!!!!

At last NASP, I enjoyed some good natured bantor with Don Hammill in the lounge. I commented on the nice looking directors chairs his staff had at their booth, and, I must admit, I hounded Don all night to send me one.

Well....Don and pro-ed staff....kudos to you!!!!!!!!!!! The chair arrived this Friday....and, it is an autographed chair with DH's personal sribble. It now sits prominently in my living room (see picture above)

PS - readers may be interested to know that in a recent survey of classic articles in special education, Don Hammill was the first author of one of the top 15 rated articles in special education (Hammill, D., & Larsen, S. (1974). The effectiveness of psycholinguistic training. Exceptional Children, 41, 5–14.--click here to see review article)

Big 5 personality traits and CHC intelligence theory: Lets hear it for being old and cantankerous!

The following is a post by the blogmaster (Kevin McGrew), who is also a member of IQs Corner Virtual Community of Scholars project.

In the mind of most quantoid psychometricians, CHC intelligence theory (aka, Gf-Gc theory) and the Big 5 Personality Theory are the most empirically sound and comprehensive taxonomies of human intelligence and personality. The relations between the Big 5 personality traits and select CHC broain domains (particularly Gf and Gc) have been actively studied during the past decade. However,much of this personality-intelligence relationship research has suffered from model specification error -- the failure to include important constructs in the empirical model being tested. Most personality-intelligence research has suffered from a narrow focus on only a small portion of the complete CHC human cognitive ability taxonomy (namely, Gf and Gc).

Thus, it was a pleasant surprise when I ran across the article below in my weekly search of literature. Baker and Bischsel (in press) investigated the relations between the Big 5 personality traits and the major broad CHC domains (as measured by the --note--WJ III conflict of interest disclosure required...I'm a coauthor of the WJ III). Not only did these investigators link the best cognitive and personality theories, they did so in a relatively large sample of 381 adults that was divided into developmentally-based subgroups of adults.

Not surprisingly, given the greater breadth of cognitive traits investigated and the ability to examine relations across different adult subgroups, this study confirms some prior findings, but more importantly, suggests some new personality-CHC trait relations previously not investigated or, which appear to vary as a function of adult developmetal status. I particularly like the finding that being more disagreeable in old age is associated with higher Gc. Maybe being a bit cantankerous late in life is a good deal !
  • Baker, T. J. & Bichsel, J. (in press). Personality predictors of intelligence: Differences between young and cognitively healthy older adults. Personality and Individual Differences. (click here to view)
Abstract
  • Previous investigations of personality–intelligence relationships have sampled mainly young adults. The present study compared young and older groups in identifying personality predictors of cognitive abilities. A sample of 381 adults was administered the Woodcock–Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities and the Big Five Inventory-44. Participants were separated into three groups: young adults (aged 19–60), older adults that were cognitively comparable to the young, and cognitively superior older adults. Results indicated that Openness and Extraversion predicted cognitive abilities in the young and cognitively comparable old, but the specific abilities predicted were different for the two groups. In the cognitively superior older group, Agreeableness was a negative predictor of Gc (b= -.28) and Conscientiousness and Openness were predictors of short-term memory and visual and auditory processing.

Select excerpts from article

  • Previous studies of intelligence–personality relations have one or more underlying limitations: (a) the sample is restricted to young adults, (b) a limited range of cognitive abilities and/or personality is measured, (c) a small sample size is utilized, and (d) reliability estimates are not reported, so null effects cannot be interpreted. This study seeks to address these limitations by utilizing a large sample of older and younger adults, measuring multiple cognitive abilities and all FFM personality constructs, and reporting reliability estimates for personality and cognition measures.
  • This cross-sectional comparison suggests that personality–intelligence relationships change from younger to older adulthood. The results also suggests that there are diferences in personality–intelligence relationships between those who retain a normal level of overall cognitive ability in old age and those older adults who are cognitively superior. Perhaps most importantly, personality predictors of Gc differed among the three groups studied. Openness and Extraversion were important predictors of Gc in young adults, presumably the time of life when Gc undergoes more development, with those higher in Openness and lower in Extraversion scoring higher on Gc. These factors were not important predictors of Gc in the older groups. Given the robustness of the Openness–Gc relation in prior studies of young adults, the absence of this relation in both of the older groups in the present study suggests that Openness to experience is no longer necessary for the sustenance of crystallized ability in old age. Perhaps Openness is only important for Gc’s development in young adulthood.
  • Instead of Openness, Agreeableness negatively predicted Gc in the cognitively superior old, suggesting that a disagreeable nature goes hand in hand with advanced vocabulary and general knowledge in old age. This result is in accordance with previous research that suggests that those who are highly intelligent are more independent (Harris, Vernon, & Jang, 2005); non-reliance on others means Agreeableness is less necessary.
  • Interestingly, Conscientiousness positively predicted Ga and Gsm, which contradicts previous fndings that Conscientiousness has a negative relationship with intelligence (Moutafi et al., 2004; Moutafi et al., 2005). Moutafi et al. (2004) suggested there is an inverse relationship between Conscientiousness and intelligence because less intelligent people make up for their shortcomings by being more steadfast, and those with higher intellectual abilities do not need to be conscientious. Our results contradict this suggestion as our Conscientiousness–intelligence relationship was found only among the intellectually superior older adults. It may be that in old age Conscientiousness does not necessarily make one ‘‘smarter’’; rather, this trait enables older individuals to perform better on tests of cognition. This explanation makes more sense when considering the abilities that relate to Conscientiousness in this group. The tasks that make up Ga and Gsm appeared to elicit the most frustration in our older subjects, according to anecdotal reports from the research assistants. In addition, both Ga and Gsm, as measured by the WJ-III, tap attentional capacity (Mather & Woodcock, 2001). Previous research also suggests that Conscientiousness, at least in part, re?ects attentiveness (Digman & Inouye, 1986). It makes sense then that high scorers on Conscientiousness were also the best performers in terms of Ga and Gsm.
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RIAS as a predictor of SAT scores

Over on the NASP listserv, there have been regular posts regarding the Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales (RIAS). Users of the RIAS with high school and college-age populations might find a new study by Beaujean et a. (2006) of interest, particularly with regard to predicting SAT scores (from RIAS scores). This small study can be viewed as a concurrent/criterion-related validity investigation of the RIAS (although the primary focus is on supporting the interpretation of the SAT as a measure of g or general intelligence).

Caveat---the sample is small (n=97) and geographically restricted.



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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

g, Glr and creativity

A nice tip-of-the-hat to the Gene Expression blog for it's post regarding g and creativity (Glr).  It is nice to see that the work of Jack Carroll is being recognized and utilized in discussions by researchers in other fields (in this case....genetics).  Long live the influence of CHC theory


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Gifted dyslexics

Tip-of-the hat to the Eide Neurolearning blog for the post on gifted dyslexics.


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Growing neurotechnology industry

Thanks to the braininjury blog for the interesting FYI post regarding the booming industry of neurotechnology.


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SAT, g (general intelligence) and state comparisons

Thanks to Gene Expression for the FYI post regarding recent publications investigating the relationship between SAT scores and g (general intelligence) and state SAT comparisons.


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Off task - curcuit board biz cards

I've never hide the fact that I'm a real closet tech geek.  Today, thanks to a post a Boing Boing, I came across the idea of curcuit board business cards.  Cool.

Quote to note: Mark Twain on right and wrong

"The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot."

- Mark Twain

Brainstorming with People with Bad Ideas Is the Great Equalizer! - Guest post by Joel Schneider

The following is a guest blog post by Joel Schneider (Clinical psychologist, Illinois State University), a member of IQs Corner Virtual Community of Scholars project. Joel reviewed an article by Valacich et al. (2006) that investigated the question whether some people are more likely than others to have better ideas while brainstorming when other group members have high-quality ideas.

Valacich, J.S., Jung, J.H., & Looney, C.A. (2006). The Effects of Individual Cognitive Ability and Idea Stimulation on Idea-Generation Performance. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 10, 1-15.


Abstract
  • A computer-based group idea-generation simulator was used to measure the performance of individuals with high and low cognitive ability who received high- or low-quality stimulation; high- and low-quality stimulation was operationalized by presenting controlled idea submissions from simulated group members throughout the idea-generation session. Cognitive ability and stimuli quality interacted such that the high cognitive ability/high-quality stimuli treatment achieved the highest performance. The results suggest that the performance of individuals with high cognitive ability can be enhanced when given high-quality stimuli or be inhibited when exposed to low-quality stimuli. The performance of individuals with low cognitive ability, in contrast, is consistently meager regardless of stimuli quality. The findings suggest that group composition cannot only significantly influence the overall ideational performance of a group, but also that of individual group members. The implications of these findings for future research, as well as the implications for the design of group idea-generation procedures, are discussed.
Summary and Comments by Joel

Brainstorming with People with Bad Ideas Is the Great Equalizer!

Earlier this season on Donald Trump’s show, The Apprentice, one of the teams complained that their ability to function was hampered by a teammate who regularly came up with poor ideas whenever they brainstormed to solve problems. I thought that this team was grasping at straws to justify their poor performance. However, an interesting new study suggests that maybe the excuse was not so bad after all.

Valacich, Jung, and Looney (2006) asked the question whether some people are more likely than others to have better ideas while brainstorming when other group members have high-quality ideas. Such a hypothesis is very difficult to test because group interactions are extremely complex. Measurement of live interaction is a nightmare: people do all sorts of unexpected things! Therefore, to reduce the complexity of the situation and to control the phenomena of interest (idea quality), groups of college students sat at individual computers and were told that they would participate in a computer-mediated group brainstorming session. The task was to generate ideas about how parking problems could be improved at the university (an ideational fluency task in CHC terms). Each participant would see everyone else’s ideas on the computer as they typed their own ideas. In reality, the ideas that popped onto the screen were specially selected ideas from a database instead of the actual ideas from other students in the room. The simulation was apparently realistic because few participants suspected that the ideas were not from other people in the room. Over the course of the brainstorming session, each participant was shown about 40 high- or low-quality ideas (as rated by senior employees at the campus parking services).

The authors highlighted the finding that only high-ability students had better ideas when in the high-quality group and that the ideas of low-ability students did not improve. However, the result that stood out to me was that the high-ability students did not have better ideas than the low-ability students when they were in the low-quality group.

What is going on here? It would seem reasonable that when the group has only bad ideas, individuals would not try as hard (“Why should I work hard when you aren’t?”). Perhaps high-ability students benefited from exposure to better ideas because they felt the competitive urge to keep up with the group. Low-ability students might have also felt the urge to keep up but were less able to do so. However, the authors believe that this explanation is not entirely satisfactory because people (regardless of ability) actually generated more ideas (but lower quality) in the low-quality condition. When exposed to good ideas, high-ability students shift to a low-quantity/high-quality idea generation strategy whereas low-ability students continue to focus on a high-quantity/low-quality strategy. Perhaps, like Newton standing on the shoulders of giants, high-ability students were better able to learn from the good ideas of others. Solving parking problems is way outside most people’s expertise and in the absence of knowledge perhaps everyone is equally stumped. Perhaps after a few good ideas are on the table, high-ability people are better able to recognize the key components of these ideas springboard off them to come up with something much better than they would without any help from the group. I am reminded of the fact that, other than a few very gifted people, everyone was equally bad at solving the Rubik’s Cube when it first came out. After published solutions began to appear, many people with lesser gifts were able to memorize several flexible but complex sequences of moves needed to solve the puzzle.

Some might conclude that the implication of this study is that to get the best performance out of the most talented members of the group, it is best to remove the contaminating influence of less-talented members. This might be true in certain situations but I am reluctant to go that far. For me, this study highlights the need to find ways to get all members of a group to benefit from the good ideas of others (e.g., some members of the group could be assigned to try to improve on the ideas already contributed whereas others could be assigned to think of ideas that the group has not yet considered). If this is possible, the entire group benefits from the full and meaningful contributions of every member.

Note of caution: Unfortunately, “ability” in this study was measured only by GPA, not a cognitive ability test. One of the issues that need to be resolved is whether the role of “ability” in these findings is due to GPA’s correlation with general cognitive ability or its correlation with conscientiousness/motivation. I suspect that it is former but it could be the latter or both.


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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Recent literature of interest 05-21-06 posted


This weeks recent literature of interest can be found by clicking here.


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Personal tidbit - new dentist in town


Regular readers may have noticed a dip in my blog postings this past week. The reason is that my son graduated from the U of Minnesota Dental school this week and I've been busy with house guests, attending the ceremony, etc.

Handsome guy...don't you think? Must come from good genetic stock.

He has made his mother and I proud.

Dyslexia and eye tracking problems--correlation or cause? Guest post by Joel Schneider

The following is a guest blog post by Joel Schneider (Clinical psychologist, Illinois State University), a member of IQs Corner Virtual Community of Scholars project. Joel reviewed an article by Hutzler et al. (2006) that investigated whether eye movement tracking was a potential cause of severe reading disorders (dyslexia). The question asked by this study was: "Do People with Dylexia Have Trouble Controlling Their Eyes While Reading?"

Hutzler, F., Kronbichler, M., Jacobs, A.M., & Wimmer, H. (2006). Perhaps correlational but not causal: No effect of dyslexic readers’ magnocellular system on their eye movements during reading. Neuropsychologia, 44, 637–648.

Abstract
  • During reading, dyslexic readers exhibit more and longer fixations and a higher percentage of regressions than normal readers. It is still a matter of debate, whether these divergent eye movement patterns of dyslexic readers reflect an underlying problem in word processing or whether they are – as the proponents of the magnocellular deficit hypothesis claim – associated with deficient visual perception that is causal for dyslexia. To overcome problems in the empirical linkage of the magnocellular theory with reading, a string processing task is presented that poses similar demands on visual perception (in terms of letter identification) and oculomotor control as reading does. Two experiments revealed no differences in the eye movement patterns of dyslexic and control readers performing this task. Furthermore, no relationship between the functionality of the participants’ magnocellular system assessed by the coherent motion task and string processing were found. The perceptual and oculomotor demands required during string processing were functionally equivalent to those during reading and the presented consonant strings had similar visual characteristics as reading material. Thus, a strong inference can be drawn: Dyslexic readers do not seem to have difficulties with the accurate perception of letters and the control of their eye movements during reading – their reading difficulties therefore cannot be explained in terms of oculomotor and visuo-perceptual problems.
Joel's comments

Previous research has shown that poor readers fixate their eyes on each part of sentences longer, their eyes make more stops as they scan the page, and they look backwards to previously read material more frequently.

Is that why they have trouble reading? Probably not.

A new study of 48 German adolescent boys (24 with dyslexia) used a clever method to test the commonly held belief that visual tracking irregularities cause reading problems. It has been suggested that in dyslexics the flow of visual information is not suppressed properly while the eyes make saccadic movements (the quick movements the eyes naturally make when scanning from side to side). These deficits are said to cause words and letters to appear dance around on the page and sometimes merge together.

The difficulty with testing this hypothesis is that when you observe eye movements while someone is reading, it is hard to know whether their irregular eye movements are causing the reading problems or they are the result of poor reading skills. To get around this problem, a new task was devised to be very similar to reading but to have no requirements to pronounce anything or understand anything. Instead of having the boys read words, they were given strings of consonants like this:
  • QQGP DSB LQWB ZBB VPLL
In this “String Processing” task, they had to indicate whether each “word” had a double letter. Thus, the task required the boys to look at each word in a manner similar to reading but no higher-order reading skills were necessary. In another task, the boys also had to read pronounceable pseudowords such as “ZIB VULL CRUF BAF.” Their eye movements were recorded while performing both tasks.

While reading the pseudowords, the dyslexic boys’ eye movements showed the same unusual patterns as found in previous research. However, while performing the String Processing task, their eye movements were indistinguishable from those of the control group. Although it is possible that there might be some children with reading problems due to eye-movement control problems, these results suggest that such problems are not typical. To quote the title of the article, the relationship between eye movement irregularities and reading problems is “perhaps correlational but not causal.”

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Quote to Note: Doubts and certainties

Philospher Francis Bancon, quoted in the Associated Press:
  • "If a man will begin in certainties he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin in doubts he shall end in certainties"

Quote to note - Intellectual snobs

Dan Rather, quoted in The Vancouver Sun:
  • "An intellectual snob is someone who can listen to the William Telll Overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger."

Review of WJ III Bateria

I just received my copy of "The School Psychologist", the official FYI publication of APA Division 16 (School Psychology).  It includes a review of the Baterial III Woodcock-Munoz (Bateria III), of which I am a coauthor (please not the conflict of interest).  I will not add any editorial comments and will let readers read the review and form their own impressions (click here to view)


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Probability in everyday life - suggested reading - "Chances are"


It is not often that I recommend a book to others before I've at least completed reading half of the book. Today is an exception. I just stumbled on (although it was likely an event with a known probability) the book "Chances are: Adventures in probability" and can already tell, after reading the first chapter, that this is going to be a good book.

From the book jacket - "Chanes Are...is a compelling journey through history, mathematics, and philosophy, charting one of humanity's most ambitious and poignant endeavors: the struggle against randomness."

The book captured my imagination in the first paragraph in the first chapter, which follows below:
  • "We search for certainty and call what we find destiny. Everything is possible, yet only one thing happens--we live and die between these two poles, under the rule of probability. We prefer, though, to call it Chance: an old familiar embodied in gods and demons, harnessed in charms and rituals. We remind one another of forutne's fickleness, each secretly believing himself excempt. I am master of my fate; you are dicing with danger; he is living in a fool's paradise"

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Phelps Kindergarten Readiness Scales - empirical study

A question was just posted to the NASP listserv re: any reviews of the Phelps Kindergarten Readiness Scale (click here to find Burons Institute information). As luck would have it, I recalled an empirical investigation reported last year in Psychology in the Schools. Below is the reference, abstract and link to article for viewing---FYI post...no editorial comments.
  • Duncan,J., & Rafter, E. M. (2005). Concurrent and predictive validity of the Phelps Kindergarten Readiness Scale-II. Psychology in the Schools, 42(4), 355-259. (click to view)

Abstract

  • The purpose of this research was to establish the concurrent and predictive validity of the Phelps Kindergarten Readiness Scale, Second Edition (PKRS-II; L. Phelps, 2003). Seventy-four kindergarten students of diverse ethnic backgrounds enrolled in a northeastern suburban school participated in the study. The concurrent administration of the PKRS-II and the Woodcock-Johnson III Brief Intellectual Ability Scale (R.W.Woodcock, K.S. McGrew, & N. Mather, 2001a) occurred in the fall of the kindergarten year. To assess predictive validity, theWoodcock Johnson III Tests of Achievement (R.W. Woodcock, K.S. McGrew, & N. Mather, 2001b) was administered in the spring of that year. All concurrent and predictive correlations were significant. Based on the results of this study, the PKRS-II may be used with confidence to screen for children who may be at risk for academic difficulties.
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ADHD treatment database

Myomancy blog has added a new feature -- an ADHD treatment database.  Check it out.


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Director of Testing position opening in Canada - URL link

For some reason I can't edit the preceding post I made regarding the Director of Testing opening without receiving an error.

The URL for the companey is www.asinc.ca

Director of Testing position opening in Canada

I was contacted by a search firm looking to fill an applied quantoid position with Assessment Strategies, Inc. in Ottawa, Canada. I see no harm in passing the job posting along to others who may be interested. The following information was provided by Erik Slankis and is reproduced "as is" with his permission
  • Assessment Strategies Inc., Director of Testing, Measurement and Statistics
  • (Ottawa) Assessment Strategies Inc. (ASI) is a leading provider of customized assessment and measurement services, including credentialing and continuing competence assessment programs, personnel selection tools, and survey instruments. With more than 30 years experience in their field, Assessment Strategies has emerged as one of Canada's premier full-service testing and measurement firms, working with a wide variety of highly respected clients. In pursuing its mission of providing comprehensive, professional assessment services to assist its clients in achieving their goals, ASI is now seeking an experienced leader as its new Director of Testing, Measurement and Statistics.
  • The successful candidate will apply expertise in psychometric measurement, design and statistics to the development of products and services that enhance ASI’s reputation in the field of high-stakes assessment. Overseeing all elements of testing, measurement, and design, he or she will provide expert guidance and advice to ensure that clients continue to receive high quality and economical assessment services. Managing a budget and staff, the Director will play a key role in driving ASI’s business, while ensuring the company stays on the front-edge of assessment technology.
  • Technically superb, but with a flair for managing and mentoring staff, the new Director will play an important role in providing leadership to a strong, dedicated team of professionals. Possessing a related post-graduate degree, the successful candidate will have at least ten years of hands on experience in the design and delivery of leading edge assessment tools. Recognized as a leader in the field, he or she will act as a liaison to provincial and national bodies and work to promote ASI as a significant player in the Canadian marketplace.
  • For more information on this outstanding opportunity, please contact Eric Slankis in our Ottawa office at 613-742-3197 or via email at eric.slankis@rayberndtson.ca.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Way off task -- but very cool

Thanks to the Neurofuture blog to a link that will deliver some VERY interesting new media art  ("Im getting married August, 30th").  I found this little audio/video very compelling....I'm not sure why.  This is very much an off-task post...if you need a break.


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New research on Stroop Effect

Interesting pointer (via Cognitive Daily blog) to a new report that suggests that the Stroop Effect, one of the most studied cognitive psychology phenomena, may not be as automatic as once thought.


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University professors--"hot" and "easy" gets high student ratings

Tip-of-the hat to my old SCSU friend, King Banian, over on the SCSU Scholars blog.  He just posted a link to a higher-ed. report of an empirical study that suggests that professors that are more attractive ("hot") and easier receive higher student rankings.   Hmmmmmmmm....no comment.


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KeyMath-3 examiners needed by AGS/Pearson

The following request for examiners to help with standardization of the KeyMath-3 was just posted on the NASP listserv. I decided to post it here. [Please note that AGS/Pearson is NOT my publisher. The WJ III is a Riverside Publishing product-----I just know how difficult it can be to gather standardization data in schools these days]


"AGS Publishing (now Pearson Assessments) has an urgent need for examiners from the Western U.S. with access to high school students to collect spring standardization data for the KeyMath-3. Examiners and examinees are paid for their participation. Spring standardization data collection ends June 15th.

If you are from one of the states listed below and are able to help us call Melissa Noll at 800-328-2560 ext. 7321 or email at melissan@agsnet.com and refer to the NASP posting.

Western States include: AK, AZ, CA, CO, HI, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY.

John Bielinski, PhD
Senior Assessment Project Director
Pearson Assessments "

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Friday, May 05, 2006

Brain art

Interesting "brain art" link thanks to the braininjury blog.


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Prefrontal cortex and long-term memory

Another interesting post on the DI blog re: the role of the prefrontal cortex in long-term memory (Glr).


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Psychometricians are hot - in demand, obscure, esoteric and cerebral


Ok........we applied psychometricians have finally arrived!!!!

An article in the NY Times talks (click here to read) about how psychometricians, largely because of the No Child Left Behind Legislation (NCLB) [or what I've often called the "psychometricians full employment act" ] are now "one of the most obscure, esoteric, and cerebral professions in America" and the profession "is also one of the hottest." I like the label and description. Maybe I will put this quote on my IAP business cards.



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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Neurotransmitter jewelry

Just in time for your holiday gift shopping and next years valentine day.  Jewelry and clothing in the shape of neurotransmitters.  Thanks to Mind Hacks for the tip.


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More on g - general intelligence

As per usual, there is no shortage of opinion on the construct of g (general intelligence).  Today the Gene Expression blog has weighed in with an opinion.


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Age of Acquistion effects in learning

Tip-of-the-hat to one of my favorite blogs, Developing Intelligence, for introducing me to a new concept.....the "age of acquisition" effect in learning.  Interesting reading. 

There is just so much new information to learn.  Thanks to the DI blog for his continued informative posts.


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Predictive accuracy of Glasglow Coma Scale for TBI in children

Thanks to the braininjury blog for the FYI post re: a recent article that reports on the accuracy of the Glasgow Coma Scale, one of the most widely used scales to determine the initial severity of injury following a head trauma.


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Monday, May 01, 2006

Comparison of statistical methods of group classificaiton - guest post by Noel Gregg


The following is a guest post by Dr. Noel Gregg, Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Georgia, and member of the IQs Corner Virtual Community of Scholars. Noel reviewed the following important methodological article and has provided her comments below. I want to thank Noel for selecting an article that may be of greater interest to the quantoids who are regular IQs Corner readers.
  • Finch, W. & Schneider, M. (2006). Misclassification Rates for Four Methods of Group Classification: Impact of Predictor Distribution, Covariance Inequality, Effect Size, Sample Size, and Group Size Ratio. Educational and Psychological Measurement,66 (2) 240-257 (click to view)
Abstract
  • This study compares the classification accuracy of linear discriminant analysis (LDA), quadratic discriminant analysis (QDA), logistic regression (LR), and classification and regression trees (CART) under a variety of data conditions. Past research has generally found comparable performance of LDA and LR, with relatively less research on QDA and virtually none onCART. This study uses Monte Carlo simulations to assess the crossvalidated predictive accuracy of these methods, while manipulating such factors as predictor distribution, sample size, covariance matrix inequality, group separation, and group size ratio. The results indicate thatQDAperforms as well as or better than the other alternatives in virtually all conditions. Suggestions for practitioners are provided.

Finch and Schneider (2006) present an excellent study in which they investigated the statistical accuracy of four methods of group classification systems. Knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of statistical methods used for predicting group membership is extremely important to professionals. These methods are used in a variety of contexts such as determining admissions into treatment or academic programs, identifying individuals at-risk for academic or behavioral failure, and investigation of instruments most predictive for classification decision-making. The systems they investigated under a variety of conditions included: linear discriminant analysis (LDA); quadratic discriminant analysis (QDA), logistic regression (LR), and classification and regression trees (CART). The study is based on Monte Carlo simulations.

Descriptions for each of these systems are provided in the article. The performance of the four procedures was assessed under a variety of conditions by manipulating several variables. Some of the variables manipulated included sample size, distribution of the predictor variables, level of covariance matrix heterogeneity between groups, proportion of cases in each group, and effect size separating the groups. All simulations and analyses were conducted using the R software. Table 6 in the article provides an excellent review for professionals of the misclassification rates by sample size and sample size ratio generated through the analyses in this study.

The following conclusions about the performance of the four methods are listed below.
  • 1. QDA had a misclassification rate that was never larger than that of LDA and LR.
  • 2. If the assumptions of LDA were met (i.e., data normally distributed; covariance matrices equal across groups), the three approaches had comparable misclassification rates.
  • 3. CART had error rates higher than the other three methods.
  • 4. The error rates of LDA and LR became inflated when the assumption of the covariance matrices was not met.
  • 5. QDA had a lower misclassification rate than when the covariance was equal for the groups, and this error was lower than that of LDA and LR.
  • 6. CART's misclassification rate declines when the covariance matrices were not equal, and it was lower than that of LDA and LR.
  • 7. The four methods performed similarly for the all-categorical predictor case.
  • 8. The four methods had their lowest error rates for normally distributed predictors, slightly higher rates for skewed distributed, and the highest for mixed distribution.
  • 9. When the covariance matrices were equal, regardless of the distribution of the predictors, the misclassification rates of the LDA, LR, and QDA were comparable.
  • 10. The size of the sample did not have an impact on the misclassification rates of all four procedures when the distribution of the predictor variables was mixed categorical and continuous.
  • 11. When the predictors were normally distributed, the misclassification rates of LDA and LR were slightly inflated when the covariance was not equal.
  • 12. QDA and CART had lower error rates in all cases where the two groups? covariance matrices were not equal.
  • 13. Effect size reflecting level of group separation was not important in understanding the misclassification rates of the four procedures.
  • 14. The most important factor was the proportion of individuals in each group.
Recommendations for Professionals.
  • a. QDA performs as well as or better than LDA, LR, and CART in virtually all conditions.
  • b. QDA produced cross-validated misclassification results the best, particularly when the groups do not have equal covariance matrices.
  • c. When the groups are extremely unequal in size, the misclassification rate for the smaller one will be very high regardless of the method. This calls for the need for oversampling.
  • d. Inequality of covariance matrices for the predictors between groups has a greater impact on the misclassification rates of all four methods than does the predictors? distribution. The more unequal the covariances, the better QDA and CART performance and the higher error rate for LDA and LR.
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Off task - rain, rain go away - building my ark with wifi

It has been raining for four straight days and nights here in Central Minnesota. I think it is about time I start on my ark...which, of course, will have wifi internet. I guess I now know how people in Seattle feel. On the bright side, at least it is not snow.