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What Does the Punched Holes Task Measure?

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posted on 20.10.2015, 00:00 by Allison J. Jaeger
Visualization and other spatial skills are thought to be important for representation of abstract, complex, dynamic, and spatial relationships. One commonly used measure of spatial visualization (VZ) is the Punched Holes Test (PH) (Ekstrom, French, Harman, & Dermen, 1976). Previous work shows that the PH task is psychometrically reliable, and is related strongly to measures of executive functioning and working memory capacity (WMC; Kane, Hambrick, & Conway, 2005; Marshalek, Lohman, & Snow, 1983). The goal of this study was to more clearly determine what the PH task is actually measuring from a cognitive perspective and specifically attempt to demonstrate if distinct roles can be seen for VZ versus WMC. Pilot work demonstrated that WMC was more predictive of performance on items with multiple basic folds, but not items with atypical folds suggesting these item types may be testing different aptitudes. The current study investigated the role of VZ and WMC in four subtypes of items using a latent variable approach: basic three-fold, basic four-fold, atypical two-fold and atypical three-fold. The results indicated that VZ and WMC constructs were highly related to each other, and both were significant predictors of PH performance. However, performance on all item types was more strongly predicted by VZ, leaving little unique variance to be explained by WMC. At the same time, there was some evidence to suggest that the basic fold items relied more on WMC than the atypical fold items. Additionally, benefits for high VZ and high WMC participants were seen on the basic fold items, but not on the atypical fold items indicating that these two major item categories are differential in nature and may be indicative of different underlying abilities. Directions for future work are described based on these initial findings.



Wiley, Jennifer



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University of Illinois at Chicago

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Pellegrino, James Zinsser, Katherine Stieff, Mike Moher, Thomas

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