Assessing Gifted Students: An Interview with Cecil R. Reynolds (Part 1)

Cecil R. Reynolds, co-author of the Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales (RIAS) and recently revised RIAS-2, is one of the leaders in the field of gifted assessment. The following is part one of a two-part interview conducted with Dr. Reynolds concerning the use of assessments in gifted and talented programs.

Q: Theoretically speaking, what do you believe would be the most effective way to identify a gifted student?

Cecil Reynolds: I am often asked what tests or other processes should be used to identify children for participation in a gifted and talented program in the schools. My answer is almost always something along the lines of “What are the goals of the program itself?” and “What are the characteristics of the children you wish to identify?” The most important thing we can do is match the children to the program so they have the highest likelihood of success. So, for example, if the program is intended to promote academic achievement among the most academically able students in the school, I would recommend a very different selection process and different tests than if the program was intended to take the most intellectually talented students in the school and provide them with a challenging, engaging curriculum that would enrich their school experience, motivate them to achieve, and allow them to fall in love with something and pursue it with passion. While the students in these programs would overlap, the two groups would not be identical and certainly the academic outcomes would not be the same. But, the point is that we must know what characteristics we need to assess to identify and to place students in programs where they will be successful, and that requires us to first know what it is our program is intended to do.

Q: What are some of the challenges that psychologists and diagnosticians face when attempting to identify a gifted student accurately?

CR: Regardless of the program and its goals for students, the tremendous diversity in the American schools is our greatest challenge. We have an obligation to be fair, and just, and to promote the best in all children, and that is our intention. However, no schools in any country serve the range of backgrounds and abilities such as are served in our schools. The demands upon school staff to be culturally competent in so many areas, and to devise methods of teaching and accurate measures of intelligence, academic outcomes, behavioral outcomes, and school success generally, and to understand and to motivate such a wide array of eager young minds, are just incredible and require a commitment from the school board on down to the teacher aides. Maintaining this commitment and acquiring these competencies are undoubtedly staunch challenges to us all. These challenges can be magnified in the domain of gifted education because how “giftedness” is defined and valued may vary tremendously from one cultural group to another. The biggest concerns I hear from practitioners and diagnosticians center around the lack of proportionate representation of some ethnic minority groups in GT programs and how it can change assessment practices to overcome these issues. The RIAS and RIAS-2 are well suited to assist in identifying more minority students for GT programs since the minority-white differences on mean scores on the RIAS and now RIAS-2 are smaller by about half the differences seen on most traditional intelligence batteries.

Q: A lot has been written about the idea that just because a student has been identified as academically gifted, it does not mean he or she will be successful. Identifying them is simply step one. What things do you find tend to hinder their progress in our schools?

CR: Often it is the mismatch between the program and the student. It is hard to overemphasize the importance of the match between the program goals and methods of achieving them and the students in the program and their characteristics. We simply have to get the right students into the right programs. We also have to attend to students’ motivation to achieve academically as well as focus on study skills, time management, organization skills, listening skills, and other non-intellective factors that go into academic learning. IQ generally only accounts for less than 50% of the variance on academic achievement, and that is one of the many reasons we also developed the School Motivation and Learning Strategies Inventory (SMALSI). Just because a student is bright does not mean he or she knows how to study and learn, has good test-taking skills, or is motivated to engage in school learning—we should assess these variables as well and intervene accordingly.

Come back next week for the second part of this interview!

Share this post: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

The Science of Lie Detection

Lying has always been a popular topic for exploration, especially in the entertainment industry. It is very common to see crime shows in which an alleged perpetrator is hooked up to a polygraph machine to determine his truthfulness, or lack thereof. A few years ago, a TV show called Lie to Me hit the airwaves. The show is based on the work of Dr. Paul Ekman, a scientist and author best known for furthering our understanding of nonverbal behavior. Actor Tim Roth plays Dr. Cal Lightman, a scientist and lie detection expert who uses facial expressions and body language to determine whether someone is lying.

Surveys have shown that the average person lies at least once a day, with college students lying as much as twice a day. Since dishonesty is encountered on a daily basis, lying should be easy to identify; however, this is far from the case. Attempts to deceive others in everyday life are as difficult to detect as they are common and, contrary to what’s depicted in Lie to Me, a large body of research reveals surprisingly few valid cues of deception.

Psychologist William Moulton Marston invented the first lie detector in the 1920s. Interestingly, Marston’s invention led to the creation of Wonder Woman, the female superhero who could compel people to tell the truth using her magic lasso. Marston’s invention became the prototype for modern lie detectors, which record on a chart physiological activity such as skin conductance, blood pressure, and respiration. Although physiological activity may offer helpful clues to identify lying, the lie detector is far from infallible.

The polygraph excels at determining increasing anxiety or nervousness, but does a poor job of pinpointing the reason for the anxiety, which may or may not be due to lying. Rather than a “lie detector,” the polygraph may more accurately be described as an arousal detector. On Lie to Me, Dr. Lightman demonstrated how the lie detector test can be manipulated. In the first case, he gave a witness valium and then had her deliberately lie while hooked up to the machine. However, because of her tranquility, the reading indicated that she was telling the truth. In the second case, Dr. Lightman asked a male witness an identical set of questions using two different administrators. The witness answered truthfully each time. When the questions were asked by a man, the machine indicated the witness was telling the truth, but when the questions were asked by an attractive woman, the machine indicated the witness was lying. His attraction to her raised his anxiety levels.

While Lie to Me is accurate about the unreliability of lie detectors, it isn’t as easy as the show makes it appear to read facial expressions and body language to determine honesty. Even people trained in the criminal justice field such as judges and police officers can’t always identify if someone is lying. While there are no conclusive clues that indicate deception, honing skills of observation is still helpful, as people often do provide signs that they are being untruthful.

What do you think? Can lying ever be perfectly identified? PAR wants to hear from you, so leave a comment and join the conversation!

 

Share this post: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

There’s so much in store at NASP 2016!

Are you headed to New Orleans for NASP? Be sure to stop by booth #306. PAR will be there to demonstrate PARiConnect, show you how to access our free online Training Portal, and give you a hands-on look at our latest products.  The following PAR authors will be at the booth to answer your questions:

The following PAR authors will be presenting at the conference. Make sure to check out these can’t-miss sessions:

  • Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales™ (RIAS™-2): Development, Psychometrics, Applications, and Interpretation (MS061), Cecil R. Reynolds, PhD, Wednesday, February 10, 12:30 p.m. to 2:20 p.m.
  • The Neuropsychology of Mathematics: Diagnosis and Intervention (MS057), Steven G. Feifer, DEd, Thursday, February 11, 8 a.m. to 9:50 a.m.
  • Unstuck and on Target: An Elementary School Executive Function Curriculum (MS155), Lauren Kenworthy, PhD, Friday, February 12, 8 a.m. to 9:50 a.m
  • DBR Connect™: Using Technology to Facilitate Assessment and Intervention (MS140), Lindsey M. O’Brennan, PhD, and T. Chris Riley-Tillman, PhD, Friday, February 12, 4 p.m. to 5:50 p.m.
  • Concussion Management Skill Development for School-Based Professionals (DS006), Gerard A. Gioia, PhD, Friday, February 12, 1 p.m. to 2:20 p.m.
  • Introducing the BRIEF®2: Enhancing Evidence-Based Executive Function Assessment (WS038), Peter K. Isquith, PhD, and Gerard A. Gioia, PhD, Saturday, February 13, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Plus, all orders placed at the PAR booth during NASP will receive 15% off as well as free shipping and handling!

Follow PAR on Facebook and Twitter for updates throughout the conference!

Share this post: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

PAR is on the way to Boston for INS!

bostonWill we see you at the INS Annual Meeting? If you are attending INS, make sure to stop by the PAR booth to see our newest products, get a demo of PARiConnect, or check out our free online Training Portal. Don’t miss this chance to learn from PAR authors:

Plus, all orders placed at the PAR booth during INS will receive 15% off as well as free shipping and handling!

Follow PAR on Facebook and Twitter for updates throughout the conference!

Share this post: Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponEmail this to someone