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# Berkeley Students in Library in 1960

The Project Talent study produced a wealth of information about a generation of Americans that came of age at a transformative time in American history. Data from the study has informed over 450 government reports, academic articles, and scholarly books.

Project Talent was instrumental in revealing the factors, both within and beyond the school system, that influence students' educational attainment. It also transformed the field of aptitude testing and led to increased understanding of the connections between certain identifiable skills and career success later in life. In addition, Project Talent data has contributed to scholarship on subjects ranging from the changing role of women in American society to the experiences of veterans of the Vietnam War

Note: You can find full citations for the findings below and, in select cases links, for all of these publications at Project Talent Bibliography.

Educational & Career Achievement

Project Talent was one of the earliest studies to analyze the relationship between socioeconomic status and educational achievement and the effects of personality, family, and school on career decisions. Understanding these connections led to practical improvements in secondary education.

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Parental Influence

A student's socioeconomic background and the occupation and educational level of his or her parents had more impact on student educational performance than any school characteristics, including per-pupil spending, school resources, or teacher quality (Sorenson and Hallinan, 1976).

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High School Activities

Project Talent data showed connections between high school activities and career success. For example, students who took leadership roles and participated in extracurricular activities in high school generally developed skills that enabled them to earn higher wages (Weinberger, 2006). Participation in sports was also shown to lead to higher wages, as well as a greater likelihood of achieving a management position (Kuhn and Weinberger, 2000).

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College Enrollment

The strongest predictor of college enrollment is family income rather than academic ability (Corazzini, Dugan, and Grabowski, 1972). However, students whose Project Talent scores were especially high went to college regardless of their socioeconomic status. Family income had a greater impact on college attendance for those students whose Project Talent scores were average.

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The Education System

Findings from Project Talent regarding the identification of students' skills and abilities lead to improvements in educational curricula, guidance counseling procedures, and vocational training practices.

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Improving Education

Project Talent showed that the high school education system could be greatly improved through more individualized instruction and personal support to foster development, increased alignment between school curriculum and students' career goals, and better career guidance (Kiesling, 1968 and Flanagan, 1975).

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Career Guidance

Project Talent data revealed the need for more effective procedures to identify and develop the strengths and talents of America's students and guide them into careers that would utilize those strengths and lead to greater career success and satisfaction (Flanagan, 1975).

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Matching Talents & Careers

Follow-up studies showed that, although individuals are happiest and most successful when their occupations are matched with their interests and skills, the majority of high school graduates did not plan to enter a career that was appropriate to their talents.

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Identifying Skills & Talents

Project Talent broke ground in developing more accurate methods for identifying the skills and talents of individual students. For example, more recent studies using information from Project Talent follow-up surveys have found that there is a strong correlation between advanced spatial skills and scientific success, although in 1960 students who showed these skills were often overlooked (Wai, Lubinski and Benboe, 2009).

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The Vietnam Experience

Approximately half of all males from the class of 1963 enlisted or were drafted into service during the early years of the Vietnam War. Project Talent was the foundation for Lives after Vietnam (Card, 1983), a pioneering study about the characteristics of those who served and how their period of service affected their lives upon their return to the United States.

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Background Disparity

There was very little difference in the socioeconomic, racial, and family backgrounds of those who served in Vietnam and those who did not. However, those soldiers who saw active combat duty were disproportionately from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The study found that the severity of veterans' PTSD was not related to any pre-service characteristics but was determined by the intensity of trauma experienced during active combat.

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Veteran Maturity

Vietnam veterans showed higher levels of maturity and sensitivity to others than their classmates who did not serve, although they tended to marry and become fathers significantly later in life than non-veterans.

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Consequences of Combat

Lives after Vietnam was one of the earliest studies to document the psychological and physical consequences of active combat for Vietnam veterans. These symptoms, which included sleep-related and long-term health problems, anxiety, depression, and problems with intimacy, correspond closely with what has been classified as post traumatic stress disorder.

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Women & Marriage

Project Talent helped document the transformation in attitudes towards marriage and the role of women that took place in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, and the factors influencing the decisions of women regarding education and career choices.

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Views on Marriage

Project Talent data reflected the fluctuating views on marriage and home life held by young women during the 1960's. In 1960, 24 percent of girls who dropped out of high school reported wanting to be housewives; in 1964, the number jumped to 50 percent. In 1960, 11 percent of girls who went on to graduate high school reported wanting to be housewives; that number jumped to 34 percent in 1964.

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Marriage & College

Approximately a quarter of students who went to college dropped out within the first year. The most common reason for women was marriage while for men it was academic failure and financial difficulties.

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Male & Female Marriage Rates

In the classes of 1960 and 1961, more than twice as many females as males were married one year after high school.

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Gender Wage Inequality

Some of the earliest research on gender wage inequality also originated from Project Talent findings. They confirmed the severe disparity between the annual earnings of men and women with similar qualifications. In the mid 1970's, women earned roughly 51% the amount that their male counterparts earned annually (Abrams, 1977).

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Testing Methods & Large Scale Surveys

In 1960, Project Talent was the largest study of high school students ever conducted in the United States. It pioneered new innovations in large-scale survey methods and continues to influence and fuel innovations in the field of educational measurement.

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Predicting Career Success

Project Talent data have shown how skills that are often overlooked in traditional aptitude testing can predict career success in certain fields. For example, study data revealed a direct connection between exceptional spatial ability and success in scientific careers (Wai, Lubinski and Benboe, 2009).

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Multivariate Data Analysis

Project Talent data were extensively used in the groundbreaking book, Multivariate Data Analysis (Cooley and Lohnes, 1960). This text was an essential statistical and methodological reference in the behavioral sciences throughout the 1960's and 1970's, and provided researchers with clear and detailed understandings of emerging and advanced statistical techniques necessary to analyze large-scale data.

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Student Performance & Achievement

After recognizing that student performance must be measured over the duration of the schooling process, and not just at the final years of formal education, researchers have used Project Talent data to develop new methods for measuring student achievement (Richards, 1974).

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College Attendance

The data also assisted researchers in developing new scoring techniques for psychological measurement, which have been used to predict college attendance for different personality types (Prediger, 1968).

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