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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Beckmann, J. (2015), The prediction of success in an ever-changing world: Assessing cognitive flexibility through dynamic testing, International Conference of the International Association for Cognitive Education in Southern Africa. Personalizing Thinking & Learning in the Conceptual Age. Cape Town, South Africa Cape Town.

Author(s) from Durham


Using tests to assess intellectual capability is seen as a double-edged sword. On one hand it is considered an instrument of perpetuating socio-economic injustice, on the other hand, as
it turns out, intelligence tests are the most successful tools available to predict a range of relevant success criteria in education and vocation. It seems that practitioners and
educators who are confronted with the challenge of providing professional judgements regarding individuals’ educational future have the choice between two options. One is to use
these instruments nonetheless, preferably those with the nimbus of proven validity. The other option would be to disregard the business of testing altogether. The first choice comes with the challenge to – more or less knowingly – ignore that the contexts in which these tests have been validated might be quite different from those at hand. The second choice comes
with the risk of throwing out the baby with the bathwater and relying on even less valid tools in educational decision-making.
In this talk, I will discuss an alternative to these options. First, I will identify the main reason for the justified discontent towards traditional tests and explicate why these tests are of limited use in predicting success in problem solving within a rapidly changing world where the ability to deal with novelty and to adjust to changes and the ability to learn is required. Then I will present examples of newly developed assessment procedures that employ principles of dynamic testing. Based on empirical evidence, I will then
finally argue that dynamic testing of cognitive flexibility and the ability to learn provide opportunities to observe personalised thinking and learning to better inform our decisions and practices to promote learning for individuals.

School of Education