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Last Updated: Jan 10th, 2011 - 11:11:15

Technology in the Classroom  

Strong Interest Inventory® Assessment - Review
By Cynthia Kirkeby
Apr 6, 2008, 10:54 PST

© Larry Wright, The Detroit News

An announcement from CPP, Inc recently highlighted their personal and professional development tools, specifically the Myers-Briggs tests, available to high schools to assists students in their career track choices. The company pointed to a Department of Education statistic that shows, "25% of U.S. college freshmen drop out before their second year, and up to 20% of undergraduates change their majors before graduation." Their contention was that their personality tests would help students avoid those statistics. According to Maria Patrick, Co-President, CPP, "students need solid, state-of-the-art tools and guidance to help them make smart decisions."

Maria Patrick's statement made me uncomfortable. The idea that students cannot make decisions for themselves, and that they are supposed to give over their future to "state-of-the-art tools" sounded a bit too "Brave New World" for me. Looking for additional information on their website, I located a page of sample reports. Since their release dealt with careers, I downloaded the Career Report first.

The sample Career Report deals with an ENFP personality (an extroverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiving individual). Although there were some interesting and helpful strategies listed within the report, the ranking of "job families" was disturbing. The top ranked, most satisfying job family was Personal Care and Service (lodging managers, personal trainers, hairdresser and child care professionals).

I suppose their information is accurately based on their surveys, however for this company touts it will help reduce the number of students who drop out of college due to dissatisfaction with their majors. I had to wonder if perhaps their strategy was to achieve their goal by directing students not to enter college in the first place!

As I looked further on their site, I found the actual report they mentioned in their release; The Strong Interest Inventory Profile.

Another issue of concern for me is that the report openly state they are gender biased. The report has actually be skewed according to gender. Unfortunately, the conflicts or dissatisfaction that a 50 year old baby-boomer woman felt about her job may very well not be germain to an incoming college woman. In many cases, the sample base for a women in chemistry or technology, may have been so small that the recommendations are horribly skewed against satisfaction.

My father drilled into me that "figures don't lie, but liars figure." This thought may be relevant here. Traditionally have been very few women in upper management and research positions. This has change in recent years, but has that legacy critcally wounded the recommendations in these tests? I woul dhave felt much better, if the gender bias had been removed from the test.

Much of the information in the Strong Interest Inventory Profile appears as though it would be helpful, however, the presention of the information still sits poorly with me. For a student to have an assessment of their strengths and weaknesses within the professional world is probably helpful. Do I, however, think that a computer's assessment should override a student's desire to follow a particular career path? Absolutely not!

I was a college vagabond. I started in architecture, which I truly love to this day, but as life landed a few solid left jabs during my college years, I had a few detours. I was pre-med for a year, switched University architecture programs after my chosen school lost its acreditation, and I eventually left architecture completely to finalize degrees in Graphic Design and Writing.

Should I have gone directly into those majors? Maybe yes, maybe no. My background in architecture, the ability to make and read plans, and my background in science and technology were key in the businesses I have created and been involved in through the years. College is a time of personal assessment and exploration. We seem to forget the exploration part at times.

Should students be given these tests as they plan to go to college? Yes, I think they would be helpful. However, I do no think that a test will ever, or should ever, determine what someone does with their life. These tests should be used for personal assessment, not as some type of final computer decision maker. When all is said and done, each of us is the master of our own destiny, and I'm not ready to relinquish that job to any computer program, no matter how sophisticated.

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