A range of situations can cause an evaluator to use tests of nonverbal intelligence as primary instruments to assess children at different stages of their development. The first reason to choose this test in order to evaluate children’s cognitive abilities in contrast to verbal tests is the children’s age (Overton, 2016). For instance, pre-school children are inclined to cope with non-verbal tasks better than with verbal tasks, and many teachers refer to this aspect while selecting a test to evaluate the level of cognitive abilities. Furthermore, much attention is paid to using a variety of nonverbal intelligence tests if pre-school or young children have special needs.
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From this perspective, another important reason to refer to tests of nonverbal intelligence is the focus on individual abilities of students. There are situations when children’s verbal skills are not developed efficiently because they are English learners or these children can suffer from some type of hearing impairments. As a result, a teacher cannot use traditional verbal tests in order to assess these students’ cognitive or intellectual abilities (Overton, 2016). In these cases, tests of nonverbal intelligence provide educators with a possibility to assess students’ skills without limiting them in opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of different phenomena. For instance, diverse students and English learners can experience significant difficulties while trying to complete tests that include a lot of verbal information. As a result, it is possible to note that these students have no opportunities to demonstrate the actual level of their knowledge, as well as their reasoning. In these cases, the use of non-verbal intelligence tests can be discussed as a fair and effective method.
In addition, such tests are viewed as appropriate to work with students who have different types of disorders that influence their communication, interaction, and verbal abilities. In his book, Overton (2016) refers to autism as an example of such disorder. When teachers work with students who have language difficulties or suffer from mental disorders, the use of traditional verbal tests can be discussed as inappropriate and ineffective because it is necessary to address students’ needs directly. If the used tests include a lot of the verbal material, students have no opportunities to demonstrate their actual strengths and weaknesses, as well as the level of their cognitive functioning. Therefore, alternative nonverbal tests are most efficient to be used with this group of students.
One more reason to use tests of nonverbal intelligence in practice is a necessity to evaluate children’s general intelligence, as well as their reasoning regarding symbolic, spatial, or quantitative issues. Nonverbal intelligence tests are effective to assess students’ reasoning regarding situations and phenomena that are difficult to be described or presented in the verbal form. As a result, teachers use nonverbal intelligence tests in order to receive the information that is related to the students’ working memory and speed of evaluating the information, their analogical reasoning, the object memory, symbolic reasoning, abstract reasoning, and problem-solving skills. In order to assess these aspects, students do not need to work with verbal tasks and instructions. Therefore, the selection of nonverbal intelligence tests is most reasonable in this case. From this point, it is possible to state that tests of nonverbal intelligence are selected by educators in many situations, particularly, when it is necessary to evaluate diverse students or children who have special needs.
Overton, T. (2016). Assessing learners with special needs. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.