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Raven’s Progressive Matrices or Raven’s Matrices are multiple choice non-verbal intelligence tests of abstract reasoning, originally developed by Dr. John C. Raven in 1936 and firstly published in the United Kingdom in 1938. The purpose of these tests is to assess reasoning in the visual field. To perform these tests, participants have to identify the correct missing piece to complete a larger pattern, in each test item. Many items are presented in the form of a 2×2 or 3×3 matrices, justifying the tests name. Gradually items get complicated, requiring greater cognitive process to be encoded, analyzed, and solved. Many intelligence experts consider these tests to be of the most g-loaded in existence, since primarily they were designed as a measure of Spearman’s g.
According to Dr. John C. Raven, Raven’s Progressive Matrices and Vocabulary tests measure the two main components of general intelligence, originally identified by Spearman, the ability to think clearly and make sense of complexity which is known as educative ability, and the ability to store and reproduce information, known as reproductive ability.
Thought time, the matrices were developed in three different forms for participants of different abilities and ages, ranging from five years old to adulthood. In 1938 was published the Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM) in the original form of the matrices, which was in black ink on a white background, in the 1940s the Colored Progressive Matrices (CPM), and finally in the 1960s, the Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM). In addition, parallel forms of the tests were published, because through time they became too popular in the general population in terms of familiarity over these tests and so scores on them were around 10 IQ points higher per generation.
The Raven’s Tests have shown overall a good internal consistency coefficients, mostly in the .80s and .90s, and a good test-retest reliability between .70 and .90, but for low score ranges are lower. Correlations with verbal and performance tests range between .40 and .75, and there is fair concurrent validity in studies with mentally retarded groups, but lower predictive validity for academic criteria.
Raven’s Progressive Matrices Intelligence Tests
The Raven’s Progressive Matrices Intelligence Test is widely accepted as the prototypical test of inductive reasoning. These type of tests require the examinee to make an understanding of the collection of elements appeared each time and create an understanding and a cognitive rule to choose the next item from each series. This rule can be re-used later on similar items or the examinee should have to form a more effective rule, since the level of difficulty on items increases as the test progresses.
Plus, these tests are used to asses intellectual functioning or the ability to become more competent in learning by directly experiencing and being exposed to problems. These are popular measures of conceptual ability, since responses do not require verbalization, skilled manipulative ability, or complicated differentiation of visual-spatial information. As mentioned earlier, the matrices were developed in three different forms for participants of different abilities and ages.
Firstly, the Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM or SPM-Classic Raven, 1938) is a test of observation skills and clear-thinking ability. It offers insight about someone’s capacity to observe, solve problems, and learn. Is suitable for 6 year olds to adults (80), and basically from the time a child is able to comprehend the idea of finding the missing piece to complete a pattern. It can be completed within 40 minutes. The SPM consists 60 items into 5 sets (A to E), and each set contains 12 items, with a pattern-problem where one part is missing and six to eight pictures-choices are presented one of which is the correct, the missing link. Each set is composed by different principles of matrix transformation, and gradually items become more difficult. Individuals regardless of age are given the same series of problems in the same order and try to solve them at their own speed, without pausing. It can be given individually or as a group test. Of course young children, intellectually impaired people, and the elderly are expected to only solve the easiest items from these sets. Parallel versions of this are the SPM-P (2000) because the first one could not discriminate between adults of different ability levels, due to the worldwide increase in intellectual ability over the years. This version contains more difficult items but remains with the 60 items format (Strauss E.et al., 2006, pp. 229-30).
Secondly, the Colored Progressive Matrices (CPM or CPM-Classic Raven, 1947) measures clear-thinking ability and was designed for younger children (age 5-11), the elderly, and people with moderate or severe learning difficulties for anthropological and clinical studies. It can be completed within 25 minutes, but some examiners set time limit. Covers the cognitive processes of which children under 11 years old are capable of grasping. It provides a shorter and simpler form of the test, consisting of 36 items, grouped into three sets (A, Ab, B) of 12 items in each one. The previous Standard C, D, and E sets have been excluded and replaced by a set of 12 problems (Ab), and the last few problems in Set B are in color but exactly as they appear in the SPM. Participants can solve them successfully and proceed without interruption by the excluded sets and have their intellectual capacity more accurately assessed. Set A consists of problems in a continuous pattern or gestalt continuation. Items in Ab and B sets include four parts, three of which are presented and individuals have to choose from the alternatives the correct one. Again items increase progressively in perceptual difficulty. This test is practical for people who cannot understand English, suffer from physical disabilities, aphasias, cerebral palsy, deafness, or whose intelligence is below normal and so the colored backgrounds attract their attention. Based on this, the test can be presented in the form of illustrations in a book or as boards with movable pieces, making it even more clear and understood. The CPM can be given individually or after the age of 8 in a group format and the parallel versions of this is the CPM-P (Strauss E.et al., 2006, p. 230).
Thirdly, the Advanced Progressive Matrices (APM Raven, 1965) is given to above average intellectual ability adolescents (12-17 year olds) and adults that can clearly differentiate between people of even superior ability. Measures high-level observation skills, clear thinking ability, and intellectual capacity. It is deliberate and intended designed for those who find the SPM to be too easy (i.e. for individuals who get correct more than 50 items of the SPM). Plus it is the most appropriate level test for highly able children beyond the age of 10, to ensure ceiling effect (high scores that should not exceed a certain value). It consists of 2 sets of items. In Set I there are 12 introductory problems to the working method and that cover the intellectual processes assessed by the SPM. Think of it as a short 10 minutes test or better a practice before Set II. Set II contains 36 items identical in presentation and reasoning as in Set I, but the increase in difficulty is more progressive with significantly more complex items. Usually Set II can be completed within 40 minutes (Strauss E.et al., 2006, pp. 230-32).
In terms of reliability for the SPM, numerous studies that used the split-half method, estimated high results of .80 values and higher, also for the test-retest in less than a year. Of course with longer intervals values tend to be lower. For the CPM, many studies with children suggest that split-half reliability is high, typically above .80, even for the test-retest s (>80) within days or weeks. Over longer intervals, from 6 months to a year, values decline ranging from 0.59 to 0.79. Lastly for the APM, Set II has high internal consistency and split-half reliability coefficients ranging between 0.83 and 0.87. Set I, with its 12 items, logically gives lower values (Strauss E.et al., 2006, p. 233). The split-half method implies that two sets of scores are obtained from the same test, one set for odd items and one for even items, and the total scores of each set are correlated to point out the reliability of the test.
In terms of validity, Spearman considered the SPM to be the best measure of g. When evaluated by factor analytic methods, which initially were used to define g, the SPM comes as close to measuring it as anyone could expect. The majority of studies which have factor analyzed the SPM along with other cognitive measures in Western cultures report higher than .75 on a general factor. Concurrent validity coefficients between the SPM and the Stanford-Binet and Wechsler scales range between .54 and .88, with the majority in the .70s and .80s. Also the CPM is a good indicator for Spearman’s g factor, and lastly studies on APM support its convergent validity to be 0.56 with math scores on the American College Test, .48 on the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT), and 0.53 with the Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal-Short Form (Pearson, 2007).
In addition, other studies have found strong correlations between RPM’s, working memory in aging, and Parkinson’s disease. Speed processing is also correlated with test performance and high scores with faster processing. On concurrent validity, studies showed strong correlations, about .5 to .7, between Raven tests and conventional IQ tests such as the Wechsler, Stanford-Binet scales, the NART, and the TONI-2. Plus for some Cattell oriented theorists’ RPM’s are perceived as ideal measurements of fluid intelligence (ability to solve novel problems), and crystallized intelligence (specific knowledge acquired over time) (Strauss E.et al., 2006, p. 232-3).
Furthermore, many research studies have been carried out to test the effectiveness of the Raven Progressive Matrices Tests and to investigate their validity and reliability. In 2007, a study provided evidence that individuals with Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning autism spectrum disorder, scored higher in Raven’s tests than individuals without it (Hayashi et al., 2007). Another 2007 study provided evidence that individuals with classic autism, a low-functioning autism spectrum disorder, score higher in Raven’s tests than in Wechsler tests. In addition the individuals with classic autism provided correct answers to the Raven’s test faster than individuals without autism, even if they made mistakes as often as them (Dawson M. et al., 2007).
A recent 2009 study supported the theory that relational reasoning is an essential component of fluid intelligence, and was interested in neural changes that cause improvements in reasoning ability over development. To test this, used the functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on children aged 8-12 and adults aged 18-25 while performing a relational reasoning task adapted from Raven’s Progressive Matrices. Results suggest that children engaged in rostrolateral prefrontal cortex (RLPFC) while processing relations, but were unsuccessful to use it to assimilate across two relations. Relational integration is critical for solving a variety of problems, and for valuing analogies. These findings suggest that developmental improvements in this function rely on changes in utility of RLPFC, as well as dorsolateral PFC and parietal cortex (Crone A. E. et al, 2009).
DISCUSSION – PERSONAL OPINIONS
From our point of view, RPM’s tests besides of being one of the primary intelligence tests to be created are interesting in completion and can be easily perceived as fun yet challenging activities that will encourage examinees to mobilize their perceptual, observational-visual, analytical, and of course problem-solving skills. Talking from experience, once you start the test is easy to become enthusiastic, or even captivated by it after a while, and afterwards the need to reach the correct answer as fast as possible is your only worry and priority.
Moreover, since it contains items on gestalt continuation, verbal-spatial, verbal analytical reasoning, and abstract relations, individuals that take these tests must be able to create strategies to decode and solve them as well as to be able to deal with a great amount of problems on a continuum, especially if there time of completion is limited. By achieving all these, individuals increase the effectiveness of their working memory, become more alerted to future problem resolution and gradually there intelligence, since stimulated, increases within some areas more than individuals who do not practice alike tests.
In conclusion, Raven’s Progressive Matrices tests, might be primary intelligence tests, but still very good in measuring one’s g. Plus are suitable for various ages, ranging from 5 to adulthood, which is an asset in testing developmental intelligence levels of individuals and groups. These tests have shown overall good internal consistency coefficients, and a good test-retest reliability. Just consider the fact that scientists continue to utilize them as effective measurement instruments while contacting research projects.
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