Critically discuss Das, Naglieri and Kirby’s PASS theory

Discuss Das, Naglieri and Kirby’s
PASS theory Right from the dawn of civilisation man has often wondered about
individual differences in abilities, yet it was not until the third quarter of
the nineteenth century that efforts could be made about understanding its
complex nature. Intelligence is a broad term that is employed by layman to
denote the presence of such qualities as alertness, quickness of mind, level of
one’s academic success, status in an occupation, or the acquisition of an
eminence in a particular field of endeavour and so on.

Intelligence is hard to define.
In the Indian systems of thought buddhi (intellect)— defined as
nischayatmikabuddhih (decision maker) is described as an inner instrument
(antahkarana), which possesses wisdom, prudence, emotion, societal values, and
relations. In our common parlance when people speak of intelligence, they nod
knowingly as if they all share a common definition. However, their
understanding of the phenomenon of intelligence may widely vary. Discuss Das,
Naglieri and Kirby’s PASS theor For some quickness of answering a question
might reflect intelligence, while for others leading a successful life might be
due to one’s intelligence. Psychologists, too, differ in their definitions of
intelligence. We all know what we mean when we use this term, but we find it
terribly difficult to precisely define it.



Discuss Das, Naglieri and Kirby’s
PASS theory The theories of Spearman, Thorndike, Thomson, Thurstone that we
discussed above, and other similar ones, are based on isolating factors after
administering several intelligence tests over a large sample of subjects. They
did not take into account how an input, e.g. a test item is received and
processed and how a cognitive reorganisation takes place prior to giving a
response. Das, Nagliery, and Kirby (1994) have developed a theory-based,
multidimensional view of intelligence with constructs borrowed from
contemporary research in neuropsychology, information processing and human

Alexander R. Luria’s (1966; 1973;
1980) pioneering researches in the fields of neuropsychology, information
processing, and cognitive psychology have provided the theoretical foundation
to the PASS theory. Luria divided human cognitive processes into three primary
functional units.

i) Maintaining appropriate
cortical arousal and attention to allow for adequate vigilance and
discrimination between stimuli is the primary function of the first unit.

ii) The second unit is
responsible for obtaining, elaborating upon, and storing information using
successive and simultaneous processes.

iii) The third functional unit is
responsible for programming as well as the regulation and control of mental
activity (i.e., executive functioning). Planning, self-monitoring, and
structuring of cognitive activities are provided by this functional unit. To
elaborate further, the first functional unit, attention-arousal, is located in
the brain stem and reticular activating system. This unit provides the brain
with the appropriate level of arousal or cortical tone and “directive and
selective attention”.

The essential aspect of
simultaneous processing is the surveyability; that is, each element is related
to every other element. Das (2004) has explained with the help of following
example. “To produce a diagram correctly when given the instruction, “draw a
triangle above a square that is to the left of a circle under a cross,” the
relationships among the shapes must be correctly comprehended”
(Das, 2004, p.
9). Successive processing is associated with the fronto-temporal areas of the
brain and involves the integration of stimuli into a specific serial order
where each component is related to the next. That is, in successive synthesis,
“each link integrated into a series can evoke only a particular chain of
successive links following each other in serial order”.

Discuss Das, Naglieri and Kirby’s
PASS theory  For example, in language
processing, successive processes involved with are decoding and producing
syntax, and articulating speech. The third functional unit is located in the
prefrontal divisions of the frontal lobes of the brain (Luria, 1980).

Luria stated that “the frontal
lobes synthesize the information about the outside worlds . . . and are the
means whereby the behaviour of the organism is regulated in conformity with the
effect produced by its actions” (p.263).

Planning processes provide for
the programming, regulation and verification of behaviour and are responsible
for behaviours, such as asking questions, problem solving, and the capacity for
self-monitoring. Other activities of the third functional unit include
regulation of voluntary activity, impulse control, and various linguistic
skills, such as spontaneous conversation.

The third functional unit
provides for the most complex aspects of human behaviour including personality
and consciousness. All four processes of the PASS theory have been
operationally defined by Das, Nagliery and Kirby (1994). Discuss Das, Naglieri
and Kirby’s PASS theory  Planning
processes are required when a test demands that the individual makes some decisions
about how to solve a problem, execute an approach, activate attentional,
simultaneous, and successive processes, monitor the effectiveness of the
approach and modify it as needed.

Planning is clearly associated
with the frontal lobes, especially the prefrontal cortex. It has connections
with the rest of the brain as described before, including the parietal,
temporal, and occipital lobes that are responsible for information coding
(simultaneous and successive processing), as well as with sub cortical areas
that determine the level of arousal and affective reactions to different
conditions on the basis of past experiences. Discuss Das, Naglieri and Kirby’s
PASS theory  Attention arousal is a
complex process of the PASS theory.

Arousal keeps the persons alert.
It is associated with the activity of the brain stem and the lower part of the
cerebral cortex. Attention on the other hand is associated with the frontal
lobes and the lower portion of the cortex together. Simultaneous processing is
broadly associated with the occipital and the parietal lobes, while successive
processing is associated with frontal temporal lobes Knowledge base is an
integral component of the PASS model and therefore all processes are embedded
within this dimension.

The base of knowledge included in
the PASS model is intended to represent all information obtained from the
cultural and social background of the individual, because this determines the
form of mental activity. Children’s use of language to analyse, generalise, and
encode experience is a critical determinant of the base of knowledge, because
mental processes cannot develop apart from the appropriate forms of social
life. The final component of the PASS model is output or action and behaviour. Discuss
Das, Naglieri and Kirby’s PASS theory  , It
is suggested that both simultaneous and successive processes must be used in
the processing of cognitive tasks. Das (1998, p. 221) has thus explained its
salient features: “The PASS theory of intelligence (1) has given us tests to
measure intelligence as a set of cognitive processes, (2) discusses what the
major processes are, and (3) guides us in the remediation of processing

Cognition is a dynamic process
that works within the context of the individual’s knowledge base, responds to
his experiences, and is subject to developmental variations When considering
the measurement of cognitive processes, it must be noted that the effective
processing is accomplished through the integration of knowledge with planning,
attention, simultaneous, and successive processes as demanded by the particular

 Although these processes are interrelated and
nonstop, they are not equally involved in all tasks. For that reason, cognitive
assessment tasks for planning, attention, simultaneous, and successive
processing were developed to adhere to PASS theory and predominantly require a
specific cognitive process.

The PASS theory has provided a
novel approach to assess intelligence. It is cognitive in orientation and it
bases its tests on neuropsychological theories of Luria. Discuss Das, Naglieri
and Kirby’s PASS theory  Of great
importance of Das, Nagliery, and Kirby (1994) was to move away from
conventional tests of intelligence and to provide a theory-based
multidimensional view of intelligence that is built on contemporary research on
human cognition. It has a practical utility also. Undoubtedly all tests of
intelligence attempt at tapping cognitive aspects. However, most of them
approximate to the underlying processing of informational input.

Another attribute of this theory
is that it has developed a Cognitive Assessment System (CAS) test also, which
offers a unique opportunity to examine the relative contribution of cognitive
processes as a testee undergoes a testing scenario. CAS has four subscales,
named after PASS, and the test items are specially designed to assess a
testee’s proficiency in each of them separately as well as collectively

The PASS theory of Das, Nagliery
and Kirby (1994) is an information processing theory, which has taken its
inspiration from the pioneering neuropsychological and cognitive psychological
researches of Alexander Luria. Discuss Das, Naglieri and Kirby’s PASS theory  Luria described human cognitive processes
within the framework of three functional units. The function of the first is
cortical arousal and attention; the second unit codes information using
simultaneous and successive processes; and the third unit provides for
planning, self-monitoring, and structuring of cognitive activities. Luria’s
work on the functional aspects of brain structures formed the basis of the PASS
model and was used as a blueprint for defining the important components of
human intellectual competence.

A Cognitive Assessment System (CAS) has also been developed by Das,
Nagliery and Kirby (1994) and a number of researches on various aspects of
human cognition have extended increasing support to the contentions of the
proponents of this theory. The Cognitive Assessment System is an individualised
assessment that may be used for a variety of purposes, including diagnosis,
eligibility, determination of discrepancies, reevaluation, and instructional


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