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2022. október 12. Dr. Papp Gábor

Back to the future: measuring abilities with retro devices reminiscent of the 70s’. We think this could even be a future standard in the field..


Why? Let me explain!

First things first let me apologise for the possible stylistic and visual disturbance these words may have caused. In this article I will do my best to clarify these seemingly contradicting statements in an easy to understand way. In order to do that I am going to start with a quote:

“Wouldn’t it be enough to send a link to everyone online and measure them this way?”

I heard this question countless times and I completely understand the reason why this comes up. Like many things and services in our lives nowadays, ability measurement has moved into the online space as well.
A simple Google search can find dozens of tests from different providers. Sometimes these can even be accessed for free. At the dawn of the PractiWork system we had strong reasons to decide against this despite the obvious trend.
I want to elaborate on these reasons below.


East west online’s best?

Zoom, Netflix, Amazon, Google Maps, Spotify, Hello George and so on.
What’s common in all these services?

All these replace a traditionally offline process with an online one. Just as we hold company meetings mostly online we tend to give up on the feeling of watching movies in a cinema too. We may listen to the latest pop songs while simultaneously managing our bank accounts, all without leaving the comfort of our sofa.

A clear path is emerging from all this. While we had to personally attend events or were enjoying activities requiring standalone appliances (for example a record player), nowadays we need less and less of these specialised devices. For most cases all we need is a mobile phone capable of connecting to the internet.

But is this always true? Of course not, there is always an exception!

For example, take a look at Rubik’s Cube!
Is it 70s’? Yes, because it was made then.
Does turning those colourful sides online provide the same enjoyment? Of course not…
The Rubik’s Cube is best when in our hands and that won’t change down the line either. We believe that a similar concept can stand the test of time in the field of ability measurement as well.

Specialised devices, but only if needed

Even from the beginning our concept strongly involved offline, physical devices. This belief was not only backed up by our desire to “be different” but it had many more motivating factors.
From employment market feedbacks it is clear the online or only paper based ability and personality tests are most useful when aiding the recruitment or training of people who do intellectual work.
On the other hand, if the job requires quickness and dexterity from the employee, or if one of the goals of the measurement would be to compare and contrast the employees’ skills, simply utilizing a screen and a stable Wi-Fi connection is not enough for all around monitoring of skills.
Please dear reader, allow me to elaborate on this.

1. Thoroughness and precision
When measuring cognitive skills, we often look at the working style of prospective employees. This is the only way to know to what extent accuracy and speed will be taken into account and strived for in the work process.
In order to get these results we measure the individual in a situation requiring intensive personal focus. A test like this could be picking out stimuli matching a set of rules from a lot of other stimuli. For this the participant has to identify the differences and the similarities of the stimuli quickly and precisely.
Based on this example, for an efficient and precise measurement monitoring of the quickness of the answers is needed. For measuring this a specialised device is better than an online test because in the latter case the answering times can be distorted by outside factors (for example the speed of the internet connection or the RAM usage of applications running in the background).
With this goal in mind we made connectable devices for the touch screen module of PractiWork: called the Workpad and the Control Board.
These devices are composed of smaller components (function buttons, joystick, turn able wheels, touch screen) which allow the measurement of sensorimotor abilities. Opposed to a fully online test or a regular keyboard (arrows, button combinations) and computer mouse, these devices are able to monitor more and more colourful ways and directions. This leads to much more reliable results as the participant is not only “pressing buttons” during the tests and when giving answers.
The other measurement devices measure (and develop) visuomotor and psychomotor abilities that can’t be monitored with data based methods on a computer or online.

2. Standard/Equal/Fair/Identical measurement conditions
The developed device is a standard one. It allows everyone to perform tasks on the same hardware, which helps to conduct measurements under controlled conditions. This eliminates the risk of different results due to different configurations.
The practice station is deliberately an easy to use, but unfamiliar environment. With this there is no advantage to those who may be more comfortable with other input devices or computers.
Our system has the advantage of being new, imaginative and “something else” compared to the regular computers, which provides a definite motivation. it is easier to use than any other computer because each component is designed for a specific purpose, immersing the participant in the measurement. This supports them in giving their all during the tests.

3. Help is on the way!
Even though the devices allow for 10-20 participant to be measured simultaneously, this does in no way mean that the measurement doesn’t require an expert to be supervising. In all cases the measurements are done with a trained expert coordinating and overseeing it. These supervisors are there to answer any questions that arise and to intervene if a problem may occur.
Most online sites nowadays are implementing a button to ask for help with, but compared to this a measurement leader is quicker and more personal when solving problems on the spot.

4. Based on an Ethical Code
The Code of Professional Ethics for Psychologists makes a commitment to clients' right to receive services and to the same quality of service a priority in measurement. Ensuring equal quality can be achieved through standardised tools.
The Code of Ethics requires that any assessment should exclude conditions or circumstances that could have an adverse effect or consequence. This can also only be achieved within a controlled framework.

Can we help?

The 4 points above, in addition to summarising the benefits of instrumental measurement, also make a small statement about the beliefs and ethics we operate by.
It is not our intention to dissuade any company director or HR manager from using online capability measurements, because in some cases it is more appropriate to use them.
But our aim is to provide the opportunity for those who really want accurate results from a skills assessment.

For them PractiWork will always be a stable option!

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