What do you perceive are the primary strengths and limitations of cognitive assessment?

What do you perceive are the primary strengths and limitations of cognitive assessment?
Cognitive assessments are viable means of testing for cognitive impairments, such as deficiencies with attention, memory, or visual-spacial awareness. More generally we could say that cognitive assessment tests for problems with cognitive functioning; that is, with one’s knowledge, mental capacity, comprehension, or perception (Flanagan & McDonough, 2018). These things are often linked to intelligence, thus a cognitive assessment could be said to adequately test for intelligence. However, one of the limitations of these sorts of assessment is that we do not have a consensus definition of intelligence (Groth-Marnat & Wright, 2016), and even if we did, there are so many factors that aid or detract from one’s intelligence in any given moment, as well as so many types of intelligences, even if a cognitive assessment can adequately assess intelligence, we are left with many questions: What type of intelligence? If there is impairment, what is the specific disorder? If there is no evidence of impairment in the scoring, but the patient is experiencing symptoms, what then? And beyond the questions which emerge in light of the score on any given assessment, the limitations of cognitive assessments more generally stand out when considering the various contributing factors in a test environment, such as: What if the test subject is severely under slept on the day of the test? What if the assessor is biased and their subjectivity skews the scoring? What if the subject has test anxiety or is triggered by something in the space? As we see, there are many variables which easily limit a standardized cognitive assessment.
Given your reading of the history of cognitive and intellectual assessment, what do you perceive constitutes a competent assessor? What factors are particularly essential to provide skilled assessment of intellectual functioning?
A skilled assessor is someone who can set aside their assumptions and biases, allowing their subjectivity only when necessary for a specific judgement call, and in that, doing so with the support of their clinical training and experience-based instincts. They must be privy to the current research and possess competency with the instruments being used; in other words, they must have undergone the necessary training and thus be competent with the procedures and statistical methods necessary to administer and score the test (Groth-Marnat & Wright, 2016). A good assessor also has the sensitivity to consider their examinee before administering the test, with awareness of culturally or biographically salient information, as well as the ability to communicate clearly and kindly with their test subject. Confidentiality and consent are also highly important, thus the assessor ought to be able to facilitate an informed consent conversation before beginning the assessment, and must have the ability to store assessment scores in a locked facility in order to maintain confidentiality (Groth-Marnat & Wright, 2016).
How do you see a strong clinician balancing the tension between idiographic (individual) and nomothetic (generalized) perspectives on cognitive assessment? In other words, how does the clinician effectively assess the individual while at the same time situating that individual within the larger understanding of human intelligence and achievement?
Every individual is a product of their environment, and every environmental norm is comprised of individuals who effectively create that norm. This makes separating the wheat from the chaff a challenging and nuanced endeavor. On the one hand, a cognitive assessment is specifically designed to test the individual’s unique strengths and weaknesses. On the other hand, any given person’s abilities are going to be dictated by their cultural and educational background, as well as their experiences of trauma, exposure to intelligent role models, self-esteem, and a dozen other contributing psychological factors. Thus, the context or system surrounding an individual is an importand element of their assessment. What’s more, test scores are usually measured against a standard, which means a person is compared to the normal curve of the range of scores. All of these things must be taken into consideration by a clinician when trying to balance the tension between idiographic and nomothetic perspectives. It is important to remember that a test result is just one description of a person, not the total summation (Groth-Marnat & Wright, 2016).
What are your opinions of clinicians making inferences about real-life performance from tests performed in a “test-taking” situation? How credible do you believe this data is in evaluating a person’s functioning?
In my experience, high tests scores show firstly, the ability to test well. I am someone who has always tested well—something I consider a privilege. However, over the years I have noticed intelligence in my peers—creative intelligence, musical intelligence, social intelligence, and systems intelligence—for which we are rarely tested. These same peers are not good test-takers, so their intelligences have gone largely unnoticed by mainstream academia. I often wonder if this is why I pursued a more academic path—I could literally pass the test to do so—while most of my friends have found their callings in the arts, humanities, or business. The inability to test well might cause someone to choose a path that requires very little testing. In other words, I don’t think we should make such huge inferences about real-life performance from tests—real-life rarely has cognitive tests, except for those of us who choose to walk an academic path.
Flanagan, D. P., & McDonough, E. M. (Eds.). (2018). Contemporary intellectual assessment, fourth edition (4th ed.). Guilford Publications, Inc.
Groth-Marnat, G. & Wright, A.J. (2016). Handbook of psychological assessment. (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley

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