Culture fair methods of evaluating cognitive competence.
Cognitive competence is an indicator of future financial and physical well-being. Intelligence tests are a well-established, validated, popular method for assessing cognitive competence. Although these tests survived the test of time in psychological practice and research, they have received several serious criticisms. A main criticism is cultural fairness; because intelligence tests mainly rely on culturally based formal knowledge gained through schooling, they are culturally biased. This paper proposes culture-fair methods for evaluating core cognitive abilities across development. Mental attention refers to our ability to maintain and manipulate information in mind, viewed as the maturational component of working memory (1,2). It is a limited ability that improves gradually over school-age years. Measures of mental-attentional capacity are of parametric nature and provide a means with which to measure performance of individuals across variable competency levels (3). In this presentation, I will discuss the design of mental capacity paradigms in three different domains (visual-spatial, verbal, numeric) and present from data from Canadian and Russian school-age children’s performance on these measures. Results suggest that show close consistency with theoretical predictions and close correspondence with empirical data derived from classic mental-attentional capacity tasks administered to children in North America, South America, Europe and Australia. Parametric measures have multiple scaled levels of complexity, invariant need for executive control across levels, minimal prior knowledge requirements, and minimal language and conceptual requirements (3). These task properties are critical for culture fair assessment and have advantages over standard measures of intelligence testing. I will conclude with the unique contribution parametric measures can make in better understanding neurocognitive profiles in school-age children.