Cognitive Assessment – A Case Study

A Case Study – Psychometric Testing

How do you measure your information processing preferences? How do you externalise an individual’s thinking skills? How do you utilize information based upon the way we think and process data and then advise on career guidance and individual development?

There is a way and it works.

This is a case study from an individual of who works within a company and holds an executive position within a marketing division. They have been in professional working environments for the last 4 years since graduating in 2012. The below is an unbiased view from the tested individual on the testing process and the results.
I treated this testing with as much scepticism as I usually do with most unknown things. When asked to do the test I thought about the kinds of things to expect. In the briefing it was explained to me that I would be tested on numerous levels and challenged in many different ways.

The online assessment essentially takes as long as it needs to. For me what I assumed would take 45 mins to an hour, had taken up to 2.5 hours to complete. This isn’t actually a fixed time however and it essentially takes as long as the individual takes. This is all part of the tests design.
The assessment is an online browser based test that is supervised by someone remotely. The test is designed to look at an individual’s way of thinking, and to promote metacognitive thought process. This, believe it or not, can be measured in various ways.

I found myself as a virtual individual conducting various experiments that achieves certain results. The experiments are not entirely scientific but it is designed in such a way that this kind of scenario is actually a perfect fit for the methods in which you are tested. I would not entirely describe it as “fun” but I remembered this isn’t the point really. It was very much a structured and linear test which I found, at times, very frustrating.

Time and time again I found myself repeating a question. I would be asked to analyse a question, along with various objects with properties and exposure to other factors that then had an effect on the initial object. The test would not just ask me for one answer and some remained rather open ended. Very frustrating to a degree but this was part of the beauty of the tests function.

To get the best out of an individual they must be tested to various limits. To prompt the best results then the individual must be forced into various scenarios and situations whereby that individuals, natural ability and thought processes kick in and effectively subconsciously take over. This is exactly what I found. I know that the answer I have just given is correct, so why ask me again? Am I wrong? Let me go back and take another look, perhaps I missed something?
It is rather genius really. The mind works in specific ways and you are essentially thinking about thinking. I would always describe myself as being very logical and I have often been guilty of attempting to apply logic to where it cannot. Emotion is a perfect example of this. I sound like a Vulcan I suppose! Jesting aside the test did trick my mind into triggering my subconscious automatic and somewhat natural way of responding. This is the only way to get a true result.
Having completed the test in around 2.5 hours, I found myself a little baffled and some questions still remained in the back of my head. But I knew that the test was challenging, no doubt about that, so I was interested in learning the results.

When you receive your results you will have a 1 to 1 phone call with a member of the testing team. Normally this is the individual who monitored your progress remotely as you completed the test. I received a comprehensive report and diagram and I was walked through my results.
First of all we looked at my potential preferences in terms of cognitive complexity. Linear causality was my preference. Essentially this means that I am a technical specialist that has a tenancy to prefer rule-based scenarios or questions that I would only provide the answer to after careful diagnosis or investigation.
I could not argue as the results I do agree with. This matches up with my logical approach to situations and problem solving so already I was impressed. Part of my results included a comprehensive analysis of what essentially is, “How I think”. This is what they call cognitive styles and preferences. These preferences are also related to personality and motivational factors which, according to the results, also indicates previous learning exposure.

What is Metacognition?

The next set of results highlighted cognitive styles that I demonstrated least through the test. What they go on to advise is to develop areas that I do not utilise enough and suggests that these are areas to personally develop. Very insightful and actually does make a lot of sense in the way I tend to approach issues. What the test has found is that I need to look into different or alternative ways in which I should think about approaching an issue or problem.

The cognitive testing is rather comprehensive and it really does give me great insight to my own thought processes as well as my subconscious preferences. The next section of feedback analysed my speed and power. These are separate constructs in cognition and look at my speed related dimensions and measured these accordingly. What the results shown was that I was relatively quick at working through issues and tasks with the ability to quickly gain insight and grasping concepts relatively quickly. What this also shown was that as a direct result of the ability to be so quick to analyse, was that I was equally likely to attempt to provide quick closure, with a tendency to jump to conclusions and make assumptions.

I couldn’t argue with the results so far. A great insight to what I sort of knew deep down, but couldn’t always readily prove to myself or others. The report goes on to provide a list of ranked competencies that represent my overall information processing functioning. With this kind of information it would make it easy to form various developmental programmes and also assists with matching my own abilities to various and potentially more suitable working environments.
The metacognitive feedback was most interesting. Metacognition essentially guides a person’s thinking and it is a crucial component of intellectual functioning. This plays a massive role in my development of thinking skills. Throughout the assessment this was tracked and specific areas of strength were highlighted. Again, I found this most insightful and also hard to argue with. The results have shown me that my strengths lay with my exploration of data and my logical reasoning and intuition but also pointed towards areas of improvement. I was told that I could again look at things differently, by perhaps bringing more structure to my analysis. Essentially there is more than just one way to look at something!

So from a few hours testing I was assessed and then picked apart at a subconscious learning level, something that cannot be done within a classroom neither can it be done within an interview. Invaluable and insightful are two words that I would use to describe this testing. There is no right or wrong answer in this test as the test is designed to be much more than just a simple question and answer session.

What the test does is actually make me think, about how I think. The test itself has nothing really to do with what I already know but more so how I actually learn and think about approaching and solving problems. It has given me an insight into my very own learning processes, something I never imagined would be remotely useful until had completed the test. There is no high or low score here, so it’s not about getting the most answers correct; as the assessment had tested me and my patience by asking me the same thing time and time again, making me question my very self. Knowing how I think and operate means I can be better matched to roles or environments, as well as having the information readily provided for me to improve on various aspects of my learning.