Admissions Testing

One way of testing my augmented theory of successful intelligence is by showing that it is possible rigorously to assess the elements of the theory and to conduct detailed construct validation of the theory. 

In previous research on undergraduate admissions, my colleagues and I showed that (a) it is possible factor-analytically to distinguish analytical, creative, and practical skills; (b) tests of these skills substantially and significantly increase prediction of academic success in college; (c) combining creative, practical, and wisdom-based test results with analytically-based test results substantially reduces ethnic-group differences; and (d) applicants and their parents like the expanded tests because it enables a college or university to view an applicant more comprehensively, rather than merely through narrow standardized test scores. 

In research on achievement tests, we have shown that expanding the tests (in this case, Advanced Placement tests in psychology, statistics, and physics) to include new items assessing achievement analytically, creatively, and practically reduces ethnic-group differences.  In other words, a consistent trend in both the ability and achievement research is that conventional standardized tests tend to augment differences among ethnic groups relative to what is possible when tests are created via the augmented theory of successful intelligence.

I plan to continue my program of research on admissions testing.  Currently, we have a grant from Cornell University to develop a test that could be used for graduate admissions in the behavioral and brain sciences.  The test will be a simulation of the kinds of activities in which behavioral and brain scientists engage, such as reviewing articles and grant proposals and evaluating teaching.  Our hope is that the skills we measure will be more relevant to predicting graduate and professional success than is a general ability test such as the GRE.

I also am interested in developing better and more sophisticated measures for undergraduate admissions, as well as extending the work we have done to professional-school admissions, such as we did in a research project some years back for the University of Michigan Business School.



Key References

Hedlund, J., Wilt, J. M., Nebel, K. R., Ashford, S. J., & Sternberg, R. J. (2006). Assessing practical intelligence in business school admissions: A supplement to the Graduate Management Admissions Test. Learning and Individual Differences, 16, 101–127.

Stemler, S. E., Grigorenko, E. L., Jarvin, L., & Sternberg, R. J. (2006). Using the theory of successful intelligence as a basis for augmenting AP exams in psychology and statistics. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 31(2), 344–376.

Stemler, S., Sternberg, R. J., Grigorenko, E. L., Jarvin, L., & Sharpes, D. K. (2009). Using the theory of successful intelligence as a framework for developing assessments in AP Physics. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 34, 195-209.

Sternberg, R. J. (1972). A decision rule to facilitate the undergraduate admissions process. College and University, 48, 48–53.

Sternberg, R. J. (1973). Cost–benefit analysis of the Yale admissions office interview. College and University, 48, 154–164.

Sternberg, R. J. (2003). Wisdom, intelligence, and creativity synthesized. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Sternberg, R. J. (2007).  Rethinking university admissions in the 21st century.  Perspectives in Education, 25 (4), 7-16.

Sternberg, R. J. (2008a).  Assessing students for medical school admissions: Is it time for a new approach? Academic Medicine, 83 (10), October Supplement, S105-S109.

Sternberg, R. J. (2009a). The Rainbow and Kaleidoscope Projects: A new psychological approach to undergraduate admissions. European Psychologist, 14, 279-287.

Sternberg, R. J. (2010a). College admissions, beyond the No. 2 pencil.  Washington Post, November 21, p. B3.

Sternberg, R. J. (2010b).   College admissions for the 21st century.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Sternberg, R. J. (2010c). The Rainbow Project: Using a psychological theory of intelligence to improve the college admissions process. In M. A. Gernsbacher, R. W. Pew, L. M. Hough, & J. R. Pomerantz (Eds.), Psychology and the real world. New York: Worth.

Sternberg, R. J. (2012a).  College admissions: Beyond conventional testing.  Change, 44(5), 6-13.

Sternberg, R. J. (2012b).  College admissions assessments: New techniques for a new millennium.  In J. Soares (Ed.), SAT wars: The case for test-optional college admissions (pp. 85-103).  New York: Teachers College Press.

Sternberg, R. J. (2013).  Character development: Putting it into practice in admissions and instructionJournal of College and Character, 14(3), 253-258.

Sternberg, R. J., Bonney, C. R., Gabora, L., Karelitz, T., & Coffin, L. (2010). Broadening the spectrum of undergraduate admissions. College and University, 86(1), 2-17.

Sternberg, R. J., Bonney, C. R., Gabora, L, & Merrifield, M. (2012). WICS: A model for college and university admissions. Educational Psychologist, 47(1), 30-41.

Sternberg, R. J., Jarvin, L., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2011). Explorations of the nature of giftedness. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Sternberg, R. J., & The Rainbow Project Collaborators (2006). The Rainbow Project: Enhancing the SAT through assessments of analytical, practical and creative skills. Intelligence, 34 (4), 321-350.

Sternberg, R. J., The Rainbow Project Collaborators, & University of Michigan Business School Project Collaborators (2004). Theory based university admissions testing for a new millennium. Educational Psychologist, 39(3), 185–198.

Sternberg, R. J., & Williams, W. M. (1997). Does the Graduate Record Examination predict meaningful success in the graduate training of psychologists? A case study. American Psychologist, 52, 630–641.