“When we care about something, we measure it. Often the things we care the most about (for example the ability to think critically) are the most difficult to measure and validate, but the instruments we develop are also the most important assessments for the good of society—they help individuals make personal decisions, employers make the best hires, and educators know how to help individuals succeed. All measurement is imperfect, but solid psychometric practices yield the fairest and least biased assessments.”
Diane F. Halpern is a past-president of the American Psychological Association, the largest psychological association in the world with over 150,000 members and affiliates in 80 countries. Diane is also a past-president for the Western Psychological Association and the Society for the Teaching of Psychology. Diane has published hundreds of articles and many books including, Thought and Knowledge: An Introduction to Critical Thinking (5th Ed.); Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities (4th ed.), and Women at the Top: Powerful Leaders Tell Us How to Combine Work and Family (co-authored with Fanny Cheung).
Diane has won many awards for her teaching and research, including the Outstanding Professor Award from the Western Psychological Association, the American Psychological Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching, the Distinguished Career Award for Contributions to Education given by the American Psychological Association, the California State University’s State-Wide Outstanding Professor Award. Diane is the author of the Halpern Critical Thinking Assessment (Schuhfried Publishers) that uses multiple response formats, which allow test takers to demonstrate their ability to think about everyday topics using both constructed response and recognition formats.
Test short describtion:
What was the objective in development of the tests?
I have written about and taught university classes in critical thinking for several decades, but there was no psychometrically-sound validated assessment that could provide information on the multiple dimensions of critical thinking. The HCTA was developed so that critical thinking could be assessed using everyday scenarios that were familiar across cultures.
What was the biggest challenge in the development of your tests?
The biggest challenge was the validation of the HCTA. Construct validity was fairly easy, but what is the appropriate criterion for predictive validity? After decades of work, there are now several studies that show that the HCTA predicts real-world outcomes and is a stronger predictor than alternative measures such as IQ scores.
Who should use the tests which have been developed?
The HCTA was designed to be broadly applicable. It is widely used in education, business and the military.
What are the characteristics of the tests?
The HCTA is the only test of critical thinking (and one of few tests in any area) that uses multiple response formants (multiple choice and constructed response). The constructed response assesses how test takers respond to open-ended questions that are common in the real world. The multiple choice format assesses whether test-takers can recognize a correct (or best) answer when it is presented to them. Cognitive psychologists know that recall and recognition can show different properties and both are important components in understanding how people think about complex everyday issues.
What opportunities for development of tests do you see in the future or which are you particularly interested?
Thanks to emerging technologies, it is now possible to collect data from large international samples very quickly and cheaply. The use of international standardization pools could change the way we norm instruments in the near future.