Alternative test modalities: Can Black-White subgroup differences be reduced?
There are often large mean differences between Blacks and Whites on the general mental ability tests used in selection systems. These large mean differences between subgroups can result in adverse impact against Blacks in selection contexts. Therefore, finding ways to reduce subgroup differences, and thus adverse impact, is important. This study investigated whether or not large mean differences between Blacks and Whites would be reduced by using alternative testing modalities (e.g., video-based testing, oral responses). To this end, a theoretical framework is provided through which it was hypothesized that an individual's culture leads to differences in cognitive style. Differences in cognitive style may explain the mean differences found on traditional paper-and-pencil and alternative modality examinations. Analyses of three archival data samples collected for a police department in a southern city were conducted to test the hypothesized theoretical framework. These samples included individuals taking employment tests for the positions of Recruit, Sergeant, and Captain. The results indicated that in some cases, using alternative modalities and test response formats did reduce Black-White subgroup differences. A variety of boundary conditions are provided that may explain some of the aberrant results found. Finally, a discussion of how the results fit within the theoretical framework of culture and cognitive style is provided