Comprehension Second Degree
PROCEDURE. The questions used in this year are:--
(a) "_What's the thing to do if it is raining when you start to
(b) "_What's the thing to do if you find that your house is on
(c) "_What's the thing to do if you are going some place and
miss your train (car)?_"
Note that the wording of the first part of the questions is slightly
different from that in year IV, test 5.
If there is no response, or if the child looks puzzled, the question may
be repeated once or twice. The form of the question must not under any
circumstances be altered. Question _b_, for example, would be materially
changed if we should say: "_Suppose you were to come home from school
and find that your house was burning up. What would you do?_" The
expression "burning up" would probably be much less likely to suggest
calling a fireman than would the words "on fire."
SCORING. _Two out of three_ must be answered correctly. The harder the
comprehension questions are, the greater the variety of answers and the
greater the difficulty of scoring. Because of the difficulty many
examiners find in scoring this test, we will list the most common
satisfactory, unsatisfactory, and doubtful responses to each question.
(a) _If it is raining when you start to school_
_Satisfactory._ "Take umbrella," "Bring a parasol," "Put on
rubbers," "Wear an overcoat," etc. This type of response
occurred 61 times out of 72 successes. "Have my father bring me"
also counts _plus_.
_Unsatisfactory._ "Go home," "Stay at home," "Stay in the
house," "Have the rainbow," "Stay in school," etc. "Stay at
home" is the most common failure and might at first seem to the
examiner to be a satisfactory response. As a matter of fact,
this answer rests on a slight misunderstanding of the question,
the import of which is that one is to go to school and it is
_Doubtful._ "Run" as an answer is a little more troublesome. It
may reasonably be scored _plus_ if it can be ascertained that
the child is accustomed to meet the situation in this way. It is
a common response with children in those regions of the
Southwest where rains are so infrequent that umbrellas are
rarely used. "Bring my lunch" may be considered a satisfactory
response in case the child is in the habit of so doing on rainy
(b) _If you find that your house is on fire_
_Satisfactory._ "Ring the fire alarm," "Call the firemen," "Call
for help," "Put water on it," etc.
_Unsatisfactory._ The most common failure, accounting for nearly
half of all, is to suggest finding other shelter; _e.g._, "Go to
the hotel," "Get another house," "Stay with your friends,"
"Build a new house," etc. Others are: "Tell them you are sorry
it burned down," "Be careful and not let it burn again," "Have
it insured," "Cry," "Call the policeman," etc.
_Doubtful._ Instead of suggesting measures to put out the fire,
a good many children suggest mere escape or the saving of
household articles. Responses of this type are: "Jump out of the
windows," "Save yourself," "Get out as fast as you can," "Save
the baby," "Get my dolls and jewelry and hurry and get out."
These answers are about one seventh as frequent as the perfectly
satisfactory ones, and the rule for scoring them is a matter of
some importance. Under certain circumstances the logical thing
to do would be to save one's self or valuables without wasting
time trying to call help. There may be no help in reach, or a
fire which the child imagines may be too far along for help to
be effective. In order to avoid the possibility of doing a
subject an injustice, it may be desirable to score such answers
_plus_. We must not be too arbitrary.
(c) _If you miss your train_
_Satisfactory._ The answer we expect is, "Wait for another,"
"Take the next car," or something to that effect. This type of
answer includes about 85 per cent of the responses which do not
belong obviously in the unsatisfactory group. "Take a jitney" is
a modern variation of this response which must be counted as
_Unsatisfactory._ These are endless. One continues to meet new
examples of absurdity, however many children one has tested. The
possibilities are literally inexhaustible, but the following are
among the most common: "Wait for it to come back," "Have to
walk," "Be mad," "Don't swear," "Run and try to catch it," "Try
to jump on," "Don't go to that place," "Go to the next station,"
_Doubtful._ The main doubtful response is, "Go home again,"
"Come back next day and catch another," etc. In small or
isolated towns having only one or two trains per day, this is
the logical thing to do, and in such cases the score is _plus_.
Fortunately, only about one answer in ten gives rise to any
difference of opinion among even partly trained examiners.
REMARKS. The three comprehension questions of this group were all
suggested by Binet in 1905. Only one of them, however, "What would you
do if you were going some place and missed your train?" was incorporated
in the 1908 or 1911 series, and this was used in year X with seven
others much harder. The other two remained unstandardized previous to
the Stanford investigation.