My first ever BPS DOP conference paper back in 1993 cost me dearly. I had spent a year or two tasked with a project to convert two Work Aptitude Practice & Profile Sets into practice tests. In those days paper and pencil testing ruled with elaborate BPS Level A (5 days) and B (5+1 days) accreditation training. How to prepare materials for self-administration? How to organise self-scoring? What approach to use for reporting? We settled on materials that could either be single use or reused – with just three broad feedback bands. We conducted a study in conjunction with a MSc student at the University of Hull comparing practice leaflets, self-administered practice tests and group administered practice tests with a control group. The upshot was that test format and experience of working to tight time limits led to slight improvements in test performance. I was called to the BPS Press Office before my talk where the press officer (who bore a grudge against SHL) greeted me ‘Do you still have a job?’ accompanied by a Schadenfreude smile. I started my presentation by sharing with the audience the outrageous headline in The Independent that screamed ‘Aptitude Testing is Fundamentally Flawed’ – ostensibly based on our study. We managed to get a reader’s letter in explaining that Test Orientation Practice is about helping to level the playing field.

A few years on in 1997 we put advanced verbal and numerical reasoning tests on the nascent Internet, neatly explained and timed by the computer, with an interactive report that featured speed and accuracy sub-scores. This was a few years before I completed my PhD thesis in 2000 covering this intriguing topic and the 2006 release of the Analysis Aptitude Range at Saville Consulting making such information routinely available for feedback and interpretation. We also produced a Which Way careers workbook for self-administration of personality, interest, values, and competency assessments which in its WWW manifestation ‘SHL Direct’ pioneered interactive reporting.

In 2014 I got rather excited when I was shown a preview of the PAPI 3 Dynamic Report when talking to Cubiks about joining. I had to be where the action is! During my 6 years tenure I frequently showcased this fascinating report that pulls together content from half a dozen ‘legacy’ .pdf report in a snazzy HTML off-line format, and garnered a lot of interest (in particular from competitors) when I did a Product Demonstration session at the Association of Test Publishers (ATP) conference 2019 in Florida.

Around 2019 Saville Assessment announced the launch of exciting group analysis and reporting features that were presented at The Psychometric Forum and BPS DOP conferences. Solid assessment data aggregation and presentation instead of the vagaries of Artificial Intelligence.

Early in 2020 HUCAMA CEO Michele Guarini gave me a demonstration of a nimble Job Fit application that provides interactive reporting for test users where competency prediction scores are transparently linked (‘glass box’ rather than ’black box’) to personality facets and highlighted on-the-fly e.g. top 10 and bottom 10 scores. I had to join!

A new pinnacle of interactive reporting has been reached with the ‘Spark Coach’ application announced by Lumina Learning. To catch a sneak preview, I embarked on a 50-miles cycling roundtrip to the garden of its creator Dr Stewart Desson. I had been deeply impressed when I first encountered the questionnaire and its high-end reporting. Like ‘The Traveling Wilburys’ we criss-crossed the globe from conference to conference joined by various collaborators. The brand-new Spark Coach application allows user and participant to interactively explore personality qualities across Underlying, Every-day and Overextended personas. These include their amplifications, hidden treasures, paradoxes and more – all automatically adjusted to reflect their most significant Patterns and create continuous curiosity for self-development. The application captures goals and action plans as well:

You can see the Spark Coach application and the Drs in action here exploring my characteristics, strengths, and (many) challenges:

Michele Guarini at HUCAMA is the contact for Denmark, Sweden, and Finland:

You can hear more about the interactive reports mentioned above and the science that underpins them at the 12th Conference of the International Test Commission (ITC) 9-12 July 2021. The virtual event hosted by the ITC Learning Centre is titled ‘A Colloquium on Diversity and Equity in a Globalized Digital World: Opportunities and Challenges for Assessment’.

I convened two symposia ‘Opportunities and Challenges for Personality Assessment‘ and ‘Exploring Occupational (Mis-)Fit using a Range of Taxonomies and Techniques‘. As a presenter as well as a newly elected ITC Council member I am looking forward to seeing you at the conference, but for now:

Merry Christmas & Best Wishes for 2021!

Dr Rainer Kurz

R&D Psychologist


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