Why Ability Assessments Don't Cross Cultures Essay

Words: 10048
Pages: 41

You Can't Take It With You
Why Ability Assessments Don't Cross Cultures
Patricia M. Greenfield University of California, Los Angeles

A central thesis of this article is that ability tests can be analyzed as items of symbolic culture. This theoretical perspective, based in cultural psychology, provides psychological researchers and clinicians with the tools to detect, correct, and avoid the cross-cultural misunderstandings that undermine the validity of ability tests applied outside their culture of origin. When testers use tests developed in their own culture to test members of a different culture, testees often do not share the presuppositions about values, knowledge, and communication implicitly assumed by the test. These
…show more content…
Knowing. For a test to travel freely, (a) the universal unit of knowing must be the individual, and (b) (although not for all ability tests) there must be a universal distinction between the process of knowing and the object of knowledge. Communication. For a test to travel freely, (a) the function of questions must be universal, (b) the definition of relevant information must be universally the same, (c) decontextualized communication (communicating about something that is irrelevant to the immediate situation) must be universally familiar, and (d) communicating with strangers in an impersonal manner must be universally acceptable. Evidence against the universality of each of these conventions is presented in turn. The problems caused by cultural variability in these conventions are analyzed and solutions proposed. For each convention, I discuss how it can be used to detect cross-cultural misunderstanding about the requirements of an ability test and what can be done to correct or prevent this kind of misunderstanding. The ultimate goal is to specify culturally sensitive strategies for the appropriate assessment of abilities in a wide range of cultural contexts.

Values and Meaning
Is There Always Agreement on the Value of a Given Resin_rise?An Example From Cognitive Testing in Liberia
Cole, Gay, Glick, and Sharp (1971) took an object-sorting task to Liberia, where they presented it to their Kpelle