« AnteriorContinuar »
this detail and begin to ask, Why so busy in our labor exchanges? Then we should, indeed, be on common ground.
As to Germany, we have heard much about the continuation schools, which are, indeed, excellent. We have not heard, however, that some of the most thoughtful men and women in Germany have been agitating quietly and now are agitating openly for a system of vocational counseling to safeguard the part-time vocational schools. With all this system of efficient part-time training, it is as true in Germany as it is in England and in this country that the jobs which amount to nothing pay the highest wages and attract most of the children, and it is also true that the problem of the boy or girl in unskilled callings is hardly even considered.
It is interesting to note that in Bavaria, where the continuation schools are best known to us, the Social Democratic Party has in its recent convention written into its municipal platform a strong statement in favor of municipal vocational bureaus to serve, on the one hand, the schools which have not the economic contact, and, on the other, the labor bureaus which have not the social outlook. Within two or three years some of the directors of the municipal statistical offices, who are usually trained economists, have seen the gap between the elementary school and the continuation school. In three or four cities the directors of these offices have established what they call parent consultation hours. They have taken the valuable statistical material hitherto compiled only for the student and dealing with the labor market, apprenticeship, conditions of employment, demand for employment, and the rise and fall of wages, and they have made that information available to parents, children, teachers, and employers who resort to these offices for expert consultation.
I have not found, either in Germany or in England, any considerable recognition of the fact that the vast scheme of medical inspection and factory inspection misses fire at the point of most concern to us, the employment of the child. Since this is a world lack, I hope we shall all call attention to the need of so coordinating our medical inspection that it may be something more than a preventive of school epidemics; so that it may be something more than perfunctory; so that it may in time develop vocational specialists among the physicians, who are almost the most valuable persons at certain times in the whole scheme of vocational guidance.
Finally, the validity of any vocational scheme, whether abroad or here, may be tested by one very simple test: What does it mean to the child and its future? All vocational service takes its meaning from its relation to the child, not its transitory relation, not its statistical relation, but its fundamental relation of continued and farsighted service. With these tests in mind, we shall be able to grade
the vocational lessons from Europe as some good, many indifferent, and many—I shall not say poor-but promising and incipient.1
B. PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTS IN VOCATIONAL GUIDANCE. LEONARD P. AYRES, Ph. D.,
Director Division of Education, Russell Sage Foundation.
Psychological tests in vocational guidance are of two sorts. Those of the first sort have for their aim the selection of people for positions. Such tests are now being put into practical application in several occupations and industries. They vary in kind from the simplest sensory tests to complicated evaluations of complex mental operations.
Among the simplest of such tests are those for vision, hearing, and color discrimination given to all recruits in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Similar, but more exacting, tests of the same sort are given to candidates for licenses as pilots and for positions as officers of ships.
Railroad employees, and in some cases those of street railways, are subjected to tests of vision, hearing, and color discrimination. In the case of the trainmen, the color discrimination tests result in the rejection of about 4 per cent of the applicants. The tests are repeated every two years for all the men and at intervals of six months for those suspected of defects in color discrimination. In all of these cases the tests have for their object merely the detection and rejection of unfit applicants.
In at least three industries phychological tests are in use that are more highly developed in character and have for their object the more difficult task of selecting from among all the applicants those best fitted to perform the work.
The first instance is the work of Mr. S. E. Thompson, who used reaction time tests in selecting girls for the work of inspecting for flaws the steel balls used in ball bearings. This work requires quick and keen perception accompanied by quick responsive action. Mr. Thompson measured the reaction time of all the girls and eliminated those who showed a long time between stimulus and reaction. The final outcome was that 35 girls did the work formerly done by 120; the accuracy of the work was increased by 66 per cent; the wages of the girls were doubled; the working-day decreased from 103 hours to 8 hours; and the profit of the factory was increased.
1 For detailed information about vocational guidance in Europe, see Bulletin of the Bureau of Education, 1914, No. 4: The School and the Start in Life, by Meyer Bloomfield.
The second of the three cases is the work of Münsterberg, of Harvard, in testing street-car motormen with the object of selecting those least liable to be responsible for accidents. From several viewpoints this problem is of great practical importance, inasmuch as some electric railroad companies have as many as 50,000 accident indemnity cases a year, which involve an expense amounting in some cases to 13 per cent of the annual gross earnings.
The motormen were examined by means of a somewhat complicated laboratory apparatus constructed for the purpose of testing their powers of sustained attention and correct discrimination with respect to a rapidly changing panorama of objects, some moving at different rates of speed parallel to the line of vision of the subject, and others crossing it from right and left.
The results of the experiments showed that the tests were fairly accurate in sorting the motormen for efficiency as demonstrated by actual service. The tests require about 10 minutes for each individual. Even in their still unperfected form their application would result in the rejection of about 25 per cent of those who now are employed as motormen. There can be little doubt that this would result in a large reduction in the number of deaths and injuries from street-car accidents.
The third and last example of the application of psychological tests to the selection of employees in industry is the series of tests of telephone operators. These also were conducted by Münsterberg.
The American Telephone & Telegraph Co. employs some 23,000 operators. Applicants for positions are given a preliminary training of three months' duration in the company's schools, during which time they receive salaries. So many eventually prove unfitted for the work that more than a third leave within 6 months, involving a financial loss to the company of many thousands of dollars each year. The object of the tests was to develop methods whereby the unfit girls could be eliminated before, instead of after, entering the service
The girls were examined with reference to memory, attention, general intelligence, space perception, rapidity of movement, accuracy of movement, and association. The results showed that the girls who gave the best results in the tests were most efficient in practical service, while those who stood at the foot of the list failed later and left the company's employ. It seems fair to conclude that when such tests are perfected, short examinations of a few minutes each will prevent thousands of applicants from wasting months of study and training in preparing for a vocation in which they can not succeed.1
1 The accounts of the tests of motormen and telephone girls are taken from Psychology and Industrial Efficiency, by Hugo Münsterberg, Houghton-Mifflin Co., Riverside Press, Cambridge, 1913.
In the cases so far reviewed the persons tested have been applicants for positions. With a somewhat different purpose Prof. James E. Lough, of New York University, has tested beginning students in stenography and typewriting to determine which ones possess the abilities which will enable them to succeed. The tests used are designed to measure the subject's ability in habit formation. The experiments are still under way, but already results have been secured which warrant the conclusion that a method has been devised which successfully separates the fit from the unfit candidates.
In addition to these cases in which psychological tests are being successfully applied to vocational problems, several pieces of experimentation are now under way to develop similar tests for marine officers. Ricker, of Harvard, has constructed apparatus for testing chauffeurs. Whipple, of Cornell, has done some work with tests for motormen. Seashore, of Iowa, has published a most careful study of tests of the ability of a singer. So far as is known, no work in this general field has been done in Europe.
All of the tests referred to up to this point are of the sort mentioned at the outset. All of them have as their purpose the selecting of persons for positions.
The second sort of psychological tests in vocational guidance are those having for their purpose the selecting of positions for persons. Up to the present time none has been developed, although expressions of a longing for them and faith that they will ultimately be discovered are features of the literature of the vocational guidance movement. Even definite attempts in this direction are few. In Chicago Dr. McMillan is doing some hopeful work. In Cincinnati Mrs. Woolley has records of tests of the intellectual abilities of 800 children and records of their industrial success or failure, and she hopes to correlate the two sets of data.
In various parts of the country vocational experts are at work who base their decisions not on the results of psychological tests, but rather on character diagnoses made from an inspection of the applicant and from a general evaluation of his answers to questions about himself. The defect of this method is that the questions are put for the purpose of revealing the personality of the subject, but since the replies can not be evaluated until the questioner has some basis for knowing with what degree of truth and significance they have been answered, the whole effort tends to move in a circle. Some of the experts who employ these methods unquestionably obtain good results, but until their tests become objective rather than merely observational and until the results are definitely recorded so that they can be accurately studied, it can not be claimed for them that they have attained the dignity of scientific status and reliability.
Nevertheless, the present situation is that we already have some tests for selecting people for positions and no tests for selecting positions for people. The reason is not far to seek; in one case the problem is vastly more simple than in the other. When we select people for a position, our problem is to sort out the more fit from among the applicants. This involves the development of methods for discovering the degree to which each candidate possesses the needed qualifications for one kind of work.
When the object is to select a position for a person, the problem is to discover which one of a vast number of possible sorts of work the person is best qualified to do. The difficulty arises from the almost unlimited number of possible alternatives.
At the present time we possess a rudimentary knowledge of the qualifications demanded in four occupations-those of inspector of bicycle balls, motorman, telephone operator, and typewriter. Moreover, in the cases of at least two of these occupations the tests required for even a rough sorting of the applicants are numerous, long, complex, and must be given by a trained psychologist.
Now the total number of separate classes of gainful occupations listed in the occupational index of the United States Census is 9,326, and many of them should be split into several subdivisions. This reveals something of the magnitude of the task of sorting children according to their vocational destinations.
Nor is the mere number of our occupations the only difficult feature to be faced. Modern industry is subdivided into occupations of which teachers and psychologists have, as a rule, slight knowledge. For example, if we open the occupational index to "S" we find a list like the following:
Now, when we propose to guide children into vocations, we must remember that large numbers of them are going into just such vocations as these. It is true that only a part of the 9,326 gainful occupations are available to the children of any one locality. It is also true that the same sorts of tests would undoubtedly serve for many different occupational examinations. Again, we must remember that we are using a false analogy when we refer to fitting square pegs into round holes in talking of vocational misfits; for people and positions are both plastic, not rigid, and much mutual change of form often takes place without injury to either person or position.