Armed Services Vocational Aptitude
In 1973, the draft was ended and the nation entered the contemporary period in which all military recruits are volunteers. Three years later, in 1976, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) was introduced as the official mental testing battery used by all services (Table 1, p. 18). The ASVAB combined the AFQT and special aptitude tests that differed for the services into one battery that today includes 10 subtests.
In 1980, the ASVAB was normed on a representative sample of some 12,000 young adults aged 16 to 23. Figures 10- 14, (pp.35-39) show sample, simulated items similar to those in each of the 10 subtests of the ASVAB. The figures are based on analyses in which all subtest scores were converted to standard scores on a common scale with a mean of 500 and a standard deviation of 100. The items in the figures are positioned at points on the scale where the probability is 50 percent that persons with that score will correctly answer the item (Bock & Moore, 1984, p. 76). This format makes it possible to compare scores across the different subtests.
Technological Literacy Levels of Young Adults. Data from the 1980 norming study are summarized in Figure 8, p.33. Because the ASVAB includes extensive assessments of technical knowledge from science, electronics, etc., Figure 8 is sub-labeled as "Technological Literacy" levels of young adults.
If the figure is read from right to left, it is apparent that females out perform males on the speeded tests of Coding Speed and Numerical Operations, and on Paragraph Comprehension. The sexes are about equal on Word Knowledge and then they start to diverge, with males performing better as the tests move from Mathematics Knowledge, through Electronics Information and General Science information, to the final test, Auto & Shop Information, at which White males out perform White females by some 1.5 standard deviations.
While the same trends for gender hold for Blacks, overall, Blacks perform on the average well below Whites across all subtests of the ASVAB. These data suggest that Blacks in general, and White and Black females in particular will likely be under-represented in occupations that require technological knowledge backgrounds in the domains sampled in the ASVAB.
Evidence for "Vast Bodies of Knowledge " in Literates. Figure 9 (p. 34) shows correlations among the ASVAB subtests. Reading from left to right, the top figure shows how Paragraph Comprehension correlates with other "general literacy" subtests of Word Knowledge (.80), General Science, Arithmetic Reasoning, Mathematics Knowledge, Numerical Operations and with the more specialized bodies of knowledge in Electronics Information, Coding Speed, Mechanical Comprehension, and Auto & Shop Information (.43).
The bottom figure shows how persons with technical knowledge, such as Automotive and Shop Information, tend also to possess other, related technical domains of knowledge as indicated by the correlations of Auto and Shop Information with Electronics Information (.75), Mechanical Comprehension, and General Science and lower correlations with "general" domains of knowledge.
Together, the positive correlations of Figure 9 reveal that, in general, persons who are knowledgeable in one domain of knowledge are likely to be informed in other domains, too. On the other hand, those low in one domain of knowledge, are likely to be low in others, too. Of course, the correlations are far from perfect, and so there can be considerable shifting around of people in samples of the population. However, it is unlikely that a person at the high end of the scale on Paragraph and Word Knowledge will fall to the low end in Electronics Information or Mechanical Comprehension (though it is possible just not highly probable).
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