Abstract:
Problem The entering freshman engineering class, University of Detroit, fall, 1952, was given a number of tests which required a rather lengthy, sustained effort on the part of the students. The administration, scoring, and eventual utilization of such a large battery of tests required considerable time and expense. Both the College of Engineering and the Psychological Service Center desired to shorten the entrance battery if it could be done without appreciably decreasing the predictive value of the testing program for entering freshman engineers. It was apparent that certain tests and subtests overlapped each other. Out of this recognition grew the problem for this thesis. Materials The tests which are of concern for this thesis are: The Pre -Engineering Inventory, Revised Form A; Cooperative Mathematics Pre-Test for College Students, Form X; Cooperative English, Mechanics of Expression, Form Y; Cooperative English, Effectiveness of Expression, Form Y; and the American Council on Education Psychological Examination f or College Freshmen, 1946. The Pre-Engineering Inventory (hereafter referred to as the P.E.I.) was designed as a predictive device for use in ascertaining the potential success of students desiring to enter an engineering school. It was developed in 1943 under the auspices of the Graduate Record Office of the Carnegie Foundation. The long form, with which we are concerned here, requires six hours for administration, of which five hours and forty minutes are actual working time. Two periods of three hours are required for proper administration. The battery consists of seven subtests, General Verbal Ability, Technical Verbal Ability, Ability to Comprehend Scientific Materials, General Mathematical Ability, Ability to Comprehend Mechanical Principles, Spatial Visualizing Ability, and Understanding of Modern Society. Of the seven subtests of the P.E.I. the following are the three with which we are concerned in the problem under consideration. A short description of each test is quoted from K.W. Vaughn’s study: Test I General Verbal Ability The ability to comprehend the meaning of words in the vocabulary of general reading. (20 minutes) Test IV Ability to Do Quantitative Thinking The ability to solve problems ranging in difficulty from arithmetic to the elements of analytic geometry, to comprehend passages involving quantitive concepts, to interpret graphs and tables and to apply mathematical thinking to the solution of new problem types. (70 minute s) Test VI Spatial Visualizing Ability The ability to visualize form and detail from plane figures. (30 minutes) Since the P.E.I. is not as generally well known as t he other tests under consideration, it is felt that some indication of its validity and reliability should be included here. The authors state that the reliability coefficients are based on a division of each subtest into what they term “rational halves.” It is further stated that an attempt was made to match the halves with respect to item difficulty, subject matter, item type, and position in the test. It is contended that, since the number of groups of items in a single subtest was not always large, the coefficients probably tend to be underestimates of the actual test reliabilities in many cases. Since the P.E.I. is guarded as confidential, a detailed examination of its content was not possible. However, consideration of the P.E.I. subtest descriptions suggests the possibility that other tests included in the University of Detroit entrance battery may be measuring approximately the same abilities. The correlational study of similar tests may warrant the elimination of certain tests within the battery. Specification of Problem The General Verbal subtest was thought to contain common elements with the tests of Mechanics of Expression and Effectiveness of Expression and hence to involve unnecessary duplication. These three tests were ostensibly designed for basically the same purpose, that is, prediction of success in college English courses. The inclusion of three such tests certainly seems unwarranted if these tests can be shown to correlate well with each other . The scores obtained on the P.E .I. General Verbal subtest are to be correlated with the scores on the Cooperative English, Mechanics of Expression test and the Cooperative English, Effectiveness of Expression test, Form Y. Similarly, a question arises concerning the advisability of retaining two tests such as the Cooperative Mathematics Pre-test for College Students and the P.E .I. General Mathematical Ability subtest. Both were designed for basically the same purpose: prediction of success in mathematics courses. However, the value of both tests has been somewhat questioned. Despite the criticisms leveled at these two mathematical tests it was considered worthwhile to attempt an estimation of their similarity of function. From the description of the two tests we can assume that the P.E.I. General mathematics subtest is of greater difficulty, since it includes elements of analytic geometry. It is more likely to be reliable because of its greater length (70 minutes as against 40 minutes for the Cooperative Mathematics Pre -Test). The "Q" score of the American Council on Education Psychological Examination for College Freshmen, (hence forth referred to as A.C.E. “Q” score) is to be correlated with the P.E.I. Spatial Visualization subtest. Also, the P.E.I. Spatial Visualization subtest is to be correlated with the Figure Analogies subtest of t he A.C.E. The Figure Analogies subtest was singled out because it resembles the description given us of the P.E.I. Spatial Visualization subtest more closely than any of the other three tests which comprise the “Q” element of the A.C.E. Subjects The test scores used in this study were those of the 1 952- 53 freshman engineering class at the University of Detroit. The tests under consideration were given to the students prior to the opening of classes. All the tests were administered in group sessions with the usual procedures and standardized instructions.