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Re: [xmca] Personality Profile for Graduate Work?
- To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Subject: Re: [xmca] Personality Profile for Graduate Work?
- From: mike cole <email@example.com>
- Date: Sat, 5 Dec 2009 14:07:11 -0800
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Locally we are deep in discussions about organization of graduate work and
the alienation that standard procedures produce, never mind the unthinkable
norm of 7 year programs!!
Luckily we have a solution in California called medical mari something.
Therapy which does not have to go with acceptance?
On Sat, Dec 5, 2009 at 1:50 PM, <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Hi all,
> Apparently ETS is "designing" a personality profile to predict suitability
> for graduate work. Below is a hilarious commentary about our work. Hope you
> will enjoy this as the end of the semester tsunami hits. It is written by
> Guido Veloce at Johns Hopkins.
> Essay: "Just Testing"
> The Educational Testing Service (ETS) recently announced “the first
> large-scale evaluation of personal attributes for use in graduate
> admissions.” This new test, the Personal Potential Index (PPI), will provide
> graduate programs with “reliable information about six key personal
> attributes critical for success in graduate school.” Some attributes are
> hard to dispute (“Knowledge and Creativity,” “Communication Skills”),
> although most applicants would lie through their teeth about “Ethics and
> Integrity.” Two others are questionable. “Teamwork?” For some disciplines
> “Misanthropy” would be more appropriate. “Planning and Organization?” You
> want to make the faculty look bad?
> Beyond those quibbles, I have a problem that goes back to a 1956 classic,
> William H. Whyte’s The Organization Man. The book includes an appendix
> titled “How to Cheat on Personality Tests,” advising would-be successes in
> the business world to strive for “a score somewhere between the 40th and
> 60th percentiles” by trying to “answer as if you were like everyone else is
> supposed to be.” The “personal attributes” tests Whyte wanted to rig assumed
> a norm as the ideal.
> I hope ETS isn’t positing anything the least bit normal about going to
> graduate school. Look at what it involves. To pick a discipline at random:
> Future historians spend long hours in musty archives, drudging their way
> through incomplete documents in illegible handwriting. That’s the fun part.
> Whatever the field may be, engaging in research is not a natural act. Normal
> has nothing to do with it and may be an impediment.
> Moreover, the particular forms of derangement that lead to grad school
> success vary by discipline, although some elements of the graduate
> experience are typical across the board (poverty, most notably). With that
> in mind, I will serve as an unpaid consultant for ETS (could change if the
> price is right). Here are questions that should be on the test to capture
> the right stuff for grad school success, with the appropriate disciplines in
> parentheses. The correct answer is always “yes” on the GDPT (Guido Defective
> Personality Test).
> • Do you like to be around dead people? (archaeology, history, pathology)
> • Do you hate the English language so much that you want to write in ways
> few can understand? (every discipline except mine)
> • Do you think of human beings as:
> a) Things to be counted? (economics, some branches of sociology)
> b) Screwed up? (psychology)
> c) Problematic? (sociology, literary theory)
> d) Carriers of terrible diseases? (epidemiology)
> • Do stable, well-functioning societies bore you? (political science)
> • Are you fascinated by tiny organisms that kill people? (medical and
> biological research)
> • Do natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes make you:
> a) Want to be there? (Earth and planetary sciences, public health)
> b) Want not to be there? (rational people)
> • Do you enjoy spending time with recalcitrant human beings who speak
> difficult languages and have hard-to-fathom customs and cultures?
> (anthropology, academic administration)
> • Are you able to:
> a) Drink large amounts of coffee, beer, and cheap wine?
> b) Keep the same hours as Count Dracula?
> c) Hang out with highly stressed people who love to talk about their work
> and not yours?
> d) All of the above? (applicants in all disciplines and junior faculty)
> • Can you feign enthusiasm when a peer receives a job offer you deserve?
> (applicants in all disciplines, some faculty)
> • Do you like imagining the universe beginning in a gigantic explosion?
> • Do you like thinking about how the universe will end and when?
> (astrophysics and most of us on a bad day)
> If the ETS’ new test isolates the right forms of abnormality necessary to
> succeed in graduate programs, admissions offices might add a third box to
> check, in addition to “reject” and “accept.” It would be “therapy
> indicated.” Maybe that’s implied in “accept.”
> Guido Veloce is a Johns Hopkins University professor.
> Appeared in Johns Hopkins Magazine August 28, 2009
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