Personal interests often guide students as they start envisioning their future professions.
But educators should consider placing more emphasis on assessing students’ career aptitudes, says Patrick Rottinghaus, an associate professor at the University of Missouri’s College of Education.
“It provides a more complete picture of a student, increases self-knowledge, and makes them more aware of their potential,” Rottinghaus says. ” The more we can do to help students be intentional and prepared, it can lead to success.”
In a study, Rottinghaus distributed the YouScience aptitude test to more than 7,000 high school students across 14 states.
Here are reasons to increase the use of aptitude tests:
- Aptitude tests identify a student’s strengths and skills.
- These tests can diversify the workforce by steering more underrepresented students into high-tech professions.
- Aptitude tests can also inform guidance counselors, teachers and other educators as they help students plan what they will study in high school and beyond.
- They can guide the placement of students in job-shadowing programs and mentorship opportunities.
- These tests can also begin to fill the skills gap that has left U.S. employers—particularly in high-demand STEM fields—scrambling to recruit enough qualified workers.
“Due to traditional societal norms and gender stereotypes, young women have historically not been as likely to pursue STEM careers,” Rottinghaus says. “But when we looked at their aptitude scores, the system would often indicate many of the young women surveyed have the aptitude to be successful in these areas.”
Educators can also use the aptitude test in the classroom by, for instance, having students write about certain careers in English language arts, he says.
“A key part of this is that it’s never set in stone,” he says. “It’s a lifelong process.”