Performance environments are different settings in which an individual is called upon to develop different skills to perform different tasks. Aptitude tests are designed to assess the specific skills that a person is apt to develop quickly and easily. Thus, aptitudes can be used to make inferences about best learning, work, and leisure environments.
The Ball Foundation recognizes that aptitudes are not the only predictor of success and satisfaction in performance environments. However, as an important piece of the puzzle, our goal is to promote their expanded use.
Performance Environments and Classification Systems for the Workplace
There are two ways to demonstrate criterion-related links between the BAB and the workplace. The first is through individual occupational studies. The second is through connecting to a cumulative body of existing work and demonstrating the requisite alignments.
The benefit of using these taxonomies is that their research demonstrates reasonable support for the predictability of skill acquisition (learning) and performance (success) in a wide variety of occupations. This offers advantages to employers seeking to hire and develop employees, and to individuals considering career paths and learning goals.
Our work, along with that of many others, has made notable contributions to the scientific literature. The United States government, via O*NET, has taken this cumulative body of work and established an organizing framework that has high validity and utility for multiple occupational fields.
The ability to connect to this taxonomy is significant, but it requires a little more historical explanation to demonstrate how the Ball Aptitude Battery® (BAB™) subtests align with those identified within in the federal taxonomies:
The most current and relevant taxomony is that of the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) featured in O*NET.
In the industrial psychology literature, a methodology called job analysis has been used for over 80 years.
There have always been large and important differences in aptitude requirements across jobs (Edwin Ghiselli, Kevin Murphy).
Studies have reported on the collection of criterion-related BAB validity data for occupations such as auditor, bank teller, and sales representative. BAB subtests have also been used for screening applicants seeking entrance into apprentice training programs (such as electrical and plumbing trade unions) and used to predict training success (i.e., grades). A summary of the findings from occupational studies conducted on 28 different occupations can be found in the Occupational Supplement of the Ball Aptitude Battery Technical Manual (Ball Foundation, 1995). For a description of the findings from five validity studies see Dong, Sung, & Goldman (1985).
Occupational studies have historically been labor-intensive due to the use of a paper-and-pencil format. However, with the advent of our efficient computerized assessment, the Foundation would like to do more in this realm.