Assessment of learning potential using a modified version of the coloured progressive matrices

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Friedle, Robert E.
Church, Jay K.
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An assessment procedure to measure the learning potential of mildly and moderately mentally handicapped adults was investigated in this study. The procedure was developed to overcome the limitations of previously established learning potential assessment procedures by meeting the specific orientation necessary when assessing the mentally handicapped, by avoiding practice and mechanical memory effects, and by requiring the subjects to show the ability to retain and apply new cognitive skills. Thirty institutionalized mentally handicapped adults were matched on IG and then randomly assigned to an assessment or control group. For the assessment group the intervention procedure involved the Coloured Progressive Matrices test as a pretest measure, in four treatment sessions each two to three days apart, and as a posttest measure. Verbal and/or figural aids were provided when an incorrect response was given on a test item during the treatment sessions. The control group was provided the same number of administrations of the test but without the treatment intervention. Significant differences were found between the pre and post test performance levels of the assessment group. The control group showed no significant gains. The learning potential assessment procedure used in this study provided a measure of the learning potential of mentally handicapped institutionalized adults.The results indicate that the mentally handicapped can perform at much higher levels than those assessed by standardly used intellectual measures. Implications are that through the use of this approach a clearer discrimination of intellectual ability within the broad classifications of the mentally handicappped can be gained. Such information could be used to aid in the selection of peers, developmental programming decisions, and provide prescriptive information about the most efficacious modes of learning for an individual.