Cognitive ability is strongly associated with many important life outcomes, including longevity, physical health, well-being, employment, job success, and educational attainment. Although research recognizes the importance of cognitive ability, both the United States and the greater international research community still lack the accessible and dynamic cognitive ability measures needed to help advance cognitive science research and assessment. Thus, the fundamental goal of this research is to develop a bank of public domain cognitive ability measures for use in a wide variety of contexts, both applied and theoretical. This public domain and open-source tool, the International Cognitive Ability Resource (ICAR), will be developed by an international consortium of researchers. This award supports the US portion of this international research consortium.
ICAR is a framework for international collaboration between the US and researchers in Germany and the UK and has been structured to allow additional international collaborators to participate. By encouraging the use, revision, and ongoing development of ICAR measures among qualified research groups around the world, ICAR will further our understanding of the structure of cognitive abilities as well as the nature of associations between cognitive ability constructs and important life outcomes. ICAR researchers will develop open-source computer packages that will facilitate the automatic generation and dissemination of large item sets. These item sets will provide scholars around the world with a dynamic platform that is not restricted by proprietary interests.
The development of ICAR will benefit from the expertise of each of the three psychometric research groups. These teams bring unique skills to the project including prior experience with automatic item generation, online administration of cognitive ability measures to large samples, and computer adaptive testing in online environments.
The broader impacts of this project include working toward broader inclusion of cognitive ability assessment in social sciences research generally; more tailored treatment of physical and mental health issues based on cognitive ability assessments designed to gauge patients' capacity for self-care; and a better understanding of the ways in which cognitive abilities change over the lifespan, including study of the factors which exacerbate or protect against cognitive aging.