Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Intelligence, Dynamic testing and potential for learning

Can dynamic testing provide us with insight in children’s potential for learning?

Wilma Resing

Onderwijsadvies (oA)

Haags Centrum voor Onderwijsbegeleiding (HCO) 

Dynamic Testing is an umbrella term under which very diverse research projects into the cognitive development of children are grouped. Our team investigates in great detail the learning potential of children and the manner in which they solve tasks. By means of a short training session between two test sessions, the lab aims to provide insight into how these problem solving procedures – strategies – can change and be influenced. A child’s thinking development, and, linked in with this, their inductive reasoning capacity, and the manner in which these can be influenced are the core research themes.

Dynamic testing is a method that enables measuring and unfolding of the learning potential within a short time frame: measuring or testing under dynamic, interactive conditions are prerequisites. The lab has a strong focus on questions such as:

  • What happens exactly during an intervention;
  • What do children tell us about their solution of a task;
  • Can children change their strategic behavior as a result of a short training session;
  • Are there large individual differences;
  • At which exact point in time will reasoning behavior of children unfold;
  • Is problem solving behavior stable or unstable;
  • Does strategy use of children become more advanced?

In the current educational system a child will usually, having been taught in a certain domain, be tested once. This is a method used to gain insight into the learning gains of education a child has received during the preceding time period. A child’s performance is also compared with the performance of all children of the same age. This is also the standard procedure for individual diagnostics. An intelligence test or a school test measures the skills and knowledge a child has mastered or acquired at the time of testing.

A different perspective is taken when measuring the “learning potential” by means of a dynamic test. As opposed to merely focusing on what a child can achieve without any help (static), this method focuses on a child’s need for instruction during a short intervention between two test sessions and on what a child can achieve independently after a training intervention. Measures for the learning potential (dynamic, hence the term dynamic testing) are an accurate predictor of performances a child can achieve under ideal circumstances. When measuring the learning potential, a child is not only compared with other children, but, above all, with him or herself. This method also provides insight into the specific help from which a child does or does not benefit. 

Learning potential tests we administer entail tasks requiring inductive reasoning can be solved by detecting similarities, differences, or both between characteristics of the task, or by discovering relations between a task’s characteristics. A child could, for instance, count the number of green and red cubes of a task, but could also look at the changes  in the cubes’ sizes. The processes of comparison include both cognitive and metacognitive components: a child has to look over all characteristics of a task, spot the similarities, differences and relations, and needs to take these all into account when “deciding” on how to solve a task. A child has to reflect on whether he or she has solved a similar task before, and determine the order in which the task can be solved, as well as check whether the given solution is correct. In all tasks the inductive process is the umbrella process: on the basis of a limited quantity of information, a child has to come to a solution of the task  by him or herself. Several research questions we attack, are described in our specific research projects.

Elliott, J. G., & Resing, W. C. M. (2015). Can intelligence testing inform educational Intervention for children with reading disability? Journal of intelligence, 3( 4), 137-157.  http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/jintelligence3040137

Resing, W. C. M. (2013). Dynamic testing and individualized instruction: Helpful in cognitive education? Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology, 12, 81-95.

Resing, W. C. M., Elliott, J. G., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2012). Dynamic testing and assessment. In S. Seel (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning (pp. 1055-1058). Springer US.

Resing, W. C. M., Xenidou-Dervou , I., Steijn, W. M. P., & Elliott, J. G. (2012). A “picture” of children’s potential for learning: Looking into strategy changes and working memory by dynamic testing . Learning and Individual Differences, 22, 144-150.

Resing, W. C. M., & Elliott, J. G. (2011). Dynamic testing with tangible electronics: Measuring children’s change in strategy use with a series completion task. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 579-605.

Resing, W. C. M. (2006). Zicht op potentieel. Over dynamisch testen, variabiliteit in oplossingsgedrag en leerpotentieel van kinderen. Oratie. Universiteit Leiden: Maart 2006.

Stevenson, C. E., Hickendorff, M., Resing, W. C. M., Heiser, W. J. & De Boeck, P. A. L. (2013). Explanatory item response modeling of children’s change on a dynamic test of analogical reasoning. Intelligence, 41, 157-168.

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