The importance of preparation
Good preparation begins with informing the test taker why they are being asked to complete the psychometric and in what way their results will be used. It is common for test takers to be resistant to the measure if they haven't been informed of its purpose. Young people often worry that the results may be used in a negative way, rather than
to inform an individual's development. It is crucial that the young person is told a little bit about the concept of mental toughness, and that it is being used for their individual development. Remember to check understanding.
An example: using the MTQ48
The MTQ48 can produce three reports. Each report provides a narrative to accompany the test taker's scores on each of the mental toughness scales. Whilst each narrative provides a good description to accompany the result, these descriptions should be used as a guide only. In the most effective feedback sessions, the narratives are used as a prompt for discussion. Always think of a feedback session as a starting point—a foundation for discussion.
Below is an example of an MTQ48 profile. It provides an overview of the sten results for the young person on a ten point scale. The first result provided is the overall score followed by the underlying four scales and two sub scales that make up control and confidence.
The protocol for interpretation can be set out in four distinct but related stages.
First, consider the overall mental toughness score for the young person.
There are three bandings of scores along the ten point scale indicated below.
Are you working with a mentally tough scorer, a score typical of the general population or a more sensitive individual?
The key here is never be judgemental. There is not a right or wrong answer—just an answer. In the example above we can see this individual's overall mental toughness is a 4 suggesting they will fall at the lower end of a typical or average result. So this is the start. Is this result credible? Does the participant agree?
Second, consider the spread of scores on sub scales.
A good technique is to scan the sten graph from the overall mental toughness score to the bottom of the profile. Scores on the sub scales should be broadly in line with the overall score. Those that are out of line should be noted. These differences should be explored—they make the discussion come alive. Examine these results for outliers. Outliers are scores that are significantly away from the overall mental toughness score. These often indicate a distinguishing feature in the young person's make-up.
Finally, what are the key themes and issues that have emerged? Having worked through the profile combining the various scores you will naturally have built a bigger and more thorough picture of the young person. By combining several results, you can pull out the broader themes and make note of any specific issues that emerge. Billie Jean King once said “Champions keep playing until they get it right.”1 Understanding the distinctions between different profiles will not become clear until one has practised time and time again. Experience is helpful—but so is thoughtfulness. Always think about and question a profile.
Handling feedback—best practice
Any feedback session comes with a number of golden rules. The individual providing feedback should be mindful of these when using any form of psychometric test.
• It should be done
• It should be managed properly
• It should be a two-way process
• It should be open and nonjudgemental
• It should be flexible.
Handling feedback with young people
There are a number of issues to be aware of when handling any feedback with young people …
1. Suggestibility—this refers to the susceptibility of the young person to take what the feedback provider says as gospel. It is explained by the level of experience the feedback provider has in comparison to the young person. By challenging any assumptions you prevent them from simply agreeing with what has been said.
2. Use of language—young people will relate to the feedback process more easily if it's delivered with the use of simple language. Language is a common barrier we face when working with young groups so information must be provided in a nontechnical way but also contextualised. Always be sure to draw on any situational information for the young person.
3. Social desirability—young people are as susceptible as they want to present a favourable image of themselves. This often manifests itself in the young person challenging more sensitive scores. Ask them why they disagree with it? What experiences can they provide which support the challenge?
Scoring out of ten—because results are provided as scores young people tend to see their results as a score out of ten where therefore
ten is the desirable result. This isn't the case. As with other personality instruments the results are an indicator of where someone “sits” on a particular characteristic.