Creative Education
2012. Vol.3, No.7, 1212-1220
Published Online November 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
Study on Action Skill Feature and Professional Potential
of Students with Mental Retardation
Qi Dong1, Junming Fang2, Yaoda n Hao3
1Shanghai Academy o f Educational Sciences, Shanghai, China
2Institute of Special Education, East China Normal University, S hanghai, China
3Zhonghua Vocational School, Shanghai, China
Received September 5th, 2012; revised October 4 th, 2012; accepted October 18th, 2012
A total of 217 mentally retarded people in auxiliary schools and sunshine homes took the action test im-
plemented by self-developed testing tools. The results of statistical treatment indicates as follows: there is
no significant difference in projects featuring imitation between the moderate or severe and the mild
mentally retarded people; The relationship between intelligence quotient (IQ) and open action skills is
obvious closer than the relationship between intelligence quotient and closed action skills; The action
skills of adult mentally retarded in sunshine homes are better than those of similar IQ level in auxiliary
schools. Through exploratory factor analysis of test data, we abstractly put forward three factors: ability to
respond, imitate and speed, with the expectation to improve the pertinence of action skills training for the
mentally retarded people. In this paper, it is stated that the moderate or severe mentally retarded can adapt
themselves to certain professional positions after guided learning and training.
Keywords: Mentally Retarded; Action Skills; Professional Potential
Long-term Education Development Plan (2010-2020) states
that: we must strive to fully develop the potential and compen-
sate for the defects of students with disabilities. It is important
to train students with disabilities to live life to its full extent and
give them the social awareness needed to fully integrate within
society. This includes gaining self-esteem, self-confidence, in-
dependence and self-reliance. To strengthen the professional
skills and employability of disabled students training to develop
their professional potential, we must first understand the diffi-
culties presented to mentally retarded people due to their action
skills. As of now, China’s existing research has focused pri-
marily on studying mentally retarded students intelligence quo-
tient and their ability to adapt. For example research has been
done in researching the relationship and characteristics of men-
tally retarded students’ IQ and adaptive behavior (Chen, Wei,
& He, 2005), as well as the analysis of mentally retarded stu-
dents’ IQ measurement results and educational stra tegies (Zheng,
2005). However there has been limited research into the char-
acteristics of mentally retarded students’ action skills and pro-
fessional potential development and also a lack of tools for
which to test action skills. This study aims to explore the char-
acteristics and structure of the action skills of mentally retarded
people and to explore methods and tools of which to test pro-
fessional potential. These results will provide a basis at auxil-
iary schools for helping find the correct career path for mentally
retarded students.
Firstly, by conducting questionnaires and surveys on the
various department staff and teachers at Sunshine Homes, Sun-
shine Factories (both are under the jurisdiction of Shanghai
Disabled Persons’ Federation) and all Shanghai districts’ dis-
abled persons services and schools, and other department staff
and teachers; we determined that there were eight careers that
could be used as typical careers for our tests. These were: de-
livery workers, manual workers, junior chef, dim sum chef,
warehouse keeper, waiter, supermarkets, tally clerks and as-
sembly workers. We then used these eight occupations as the
basis of our analysis of work, by first finding workers of the
above occupations to give a full account of their jobs and as
such finding the most important skills needed for the respective
jobs. We then used these findings by representing the skills in a
series of motor tasks, which could then be used for testing.
With these tests we could then test our sample group of men-
tally retarded people, with the test results being used for statis-
tical analysis and research.
Study Sample
Sample information: A proportion of the sample were stu-
dents of auxiliary school with an IQ of between 29 and 69 (IQ
is measured using the Wechsler scale unless where other speci-
fied), including severe and mild mentally retarded student s (C hen,
2004). The remainder of the sample was students from “Sun-
shine Homes” with similar IQ of between 29 and 69. The sam-
pling method used was random sampling.
The sample consisted of 146 students in auxiliary schools
and 71 students in Sunshine Homes. This consisted of 29 se-
verely mentally retarded persons (IQ between 25 and 34), 80
moderately mentally retarded persons (IQ between 35 and 49)
and 180 mildly mentally retarded persons (IQ between 50 and
69).This meant that the total sample size was 217 people.
Measurement Tools
Through literature, research, consultation with those working
in the aforementioned occupations, we designed a series of
action skills tests and the production of the corresponding test
tools and a computer program used to aid with the testing pro-
cedure. Test items and the corresponding tools are:
Dovetail blocks. They consist of 3D jigsaw pieces with three
or four uneven surfaces. The participants were required to
assemble the building blocks into a rectangular box; the
level of difficult varied depending on whether four, six, nine
or fifteen jigsaw pieces were given (shown in Figure 1).
Carron stakes. This tool is based upon the work of psycho-
logist Carron (Carron, 1967) with an adaptation in that the
test items (Pi et al., 2006) were changed. The test items be-
came rods made of Plexiglas and plastic. The test required
three different diameter rods to be removed from a Plexi-
glas board and inserted into another Plexiglas board, mak-
ing sure the correct hole was filled by the correct sized rod
(shown in Figure 2).
Mike pipes. Test required using a doubled headed metal pi-
pe, connecting pieces of various angles and other small lin-
king pieces to make quadrilaterals, octagons and other geo-
metric shapes (shown in Figure 3).
Screen figures. Transparent Plexiglas and aluminum were
combined to make a wall, which required participants to use
Bakelite piece bolts, washers and nuts to fix them onto the
“screen” to make a variety of geometrical figures (shown in
Figure 4).
Colourful silk flowers. The participants were asked to first
make fold the silk into flower petal shapes, then use a rub-
ber bank to make it into a silk flower (shown in Figure 5).
Folding ribbons into flowers. The requirements were for
participants to bend the nylon bands into flower petal
shapes then use a stapler to steady the flower shape (shown
in Figure 6).
Figure 1.
Dovetail blocks.
Figure 2.
Carron stakes.
Figure 3.
Mike pipes.
Figure 4.
Screen figures.
Figure 5.
Colourful silk flowers.
Figure 6.
Folding ribbons into flowers.
Morgan Lantern. The device was based on the light experi-
ments work of psychologists Shea and Morgan (Shea &
Morgan, 1979), by using a programmable controller (the
core is a microcomputer)to input information into the ex-
ternal control button to control the intensity of the lantern.
Participants were asked to press a response button respond-
ing to the correct light. The requirement was to press the
correct button; otherwise the lantern would not light or
would let out the wrong light intensity (shown in Figure 7).
Colourful knots. The test required the participant to use red,
green and blue ropes and knot them into a shape similar to a
hair plait (shown in Figure 8).
Linking circuits. The project required the following materi-
als: Plexiglas panels, the wiring piles, harpoon lines, button
switch, output object (light/music box/fan, etc.). The test re-
quired the participant to put the items into a circuit where if
the circuit was connected correctly when the button switch
was pressed, the load (light/music box/fan) and its corre-
sponding reaction (light/sound/rotation) would occur (shown
in Figure 9).
In order to achieve standardization and automation of the test
control design, the testing console micro-computer (program-
mable controller) was used as the core to control the testing
process, such as start and end of the test, automatic scoring,
data transmission and records, test questions, allowing better
control and coordination (shown in Figure 10). There are more
depth details about the measurement tools in the book of Men-
tally Retarded Students Professional Potential Testing (wrote
by Qi Dong), China Labor and Social Security Publishing
House, published in March 2012.
Research Steps
The main steps are as follows:
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 1213
Figure 7.
Morgan Lantern.
Figure 8.
Colourful Knots.
Figure 9.
Linking Circuits.
Figure 10.
The testing process controller.
First step: Field test. This was tested in a one-on-one envi-
ronment with one participant and one trial staff member. At the
beginning of each test, a video was played to demonstrate the
testing process; participants were reminded to watch the video.
They were required after the end of the video guide to complete
the operation task and click on the computer program to begin
the test. The main trial began as soon as the “Start” button was
clicked on and once the participant completed the test, the main
trial was required to press the end button to stop the timer. The
main trial was then required to evaluate their performance.
Second step: Data processing. SPSS statistical software was
used for the statistical analysis of test data, it allowed for analy-
sis of results for severely/moderately mentally disabled students
and mildly mentally retarded students. This led to the analysis
of action skills test results of an independent two-sample T-test;
leading to projections of action skills test results and IQ corre-
lation analysis; projection of action skills test results for various
factor analysis; reliability and validity analysis of the test results.
The third step is analysis. By using theories taken from psy-
chology and special education, an in-depth study is done on the
results, leading to the interpretation and summary of the results,
allowing a conclusion to be formed.
The fourth step is to write a research report.
Results and Analysis
Varying Degrees of Mentall y Retarded Students and
the Difference in Their Action Skills
To explore in-depth the difference in the action skills of
varying degrees of mentally retarded students, the statistical
software SPSS was used to conduct a two-sample T-test sepa-
rating moderate to severe (IQ: 25 to 49) and mildly mentally
disabled (IQ > 50). The action skills test scores for the inde-
pendent two-sample t-test results show that the total score,
“dovetail blocks”, “Carron stakes”, “Mike pipes”, “Screen fig-
ures”, “Linking circuits” and “Morgan lantern”, the signifi-
cance level (sig. 2-tailed, two-sided test) is far less than .01 and
closer to .000, therefore leads to the rejection of the null hy-
pothesis H0. This proves there is a significant difference in the
action skills needed for these tasks in moderate to severe and
mildly mentally retarded participants. However for the three
projects: “Folding ribbons into flowers”, “Colorful knots” and
“Colorful silk flowers” the test results (as shown in Table 1)
shows that each tests’ significance level (sig.2-tailed, two-sided
test) are respectively: .085, .693 and .604. These are all greater
than .05 which means that the null hypothesis can be accepted
and it can be stated that between moderate to severe mentally
disabled persons and mild mentally disabled persons, there was
no significant difference in score, or action ability on these
three tests.
Similarly an independent two-sample T-test was used to
compare and analyze severely mentally retarded persons and
mild to moderate mentally retarded persons action skills scores.
The results show that for the total score, dovetail building
blocks, Carron stakes, Mike pipes, Screen figures, Connecting
circuits and Morgan lantern scores the significance level (for
the sig.2-tailed) are .000, .000, .000, .00, .000, .000, which is
far less than .01. This leads to the rejection of the null hypothe-
sis H0. This indicates that severe and mild to moderate mentally
retarded persons in the above projects have a very significant
difference in their action skills. However in “Folding ribbons
into flowers”, “Colorful knots” and “Colorful silk flowers”, the
results give significance levels (sig.2-tailed, two-sided test)
of .219, .257 and .209. These are all greater than .05 which
means the null hypothesis H0 should be accepted. It can be
considered that severe and mild to moderate mentally retarded
showed no significant difference in the action skills scores in
these three projects. According to psychologists’ classification,
the execution of the tests and the skills needed can be predicted
and divided into two types, open and closed (Pi et al., 2006).
Open action skills are those where the environment is con-
stantly changing and unpredictable, it is one where the operator
cannot effectively plan for the entire task in advance. Success
in open action skill tests depends on individual ability to adapt
to a changing environment. Closed action skills are when the
test environment is stable or predictable. Research and analysis
on the operation of the above measurements and tools and test
factors shows that it is not difficult to find that for dovetail
building blocks, Mike pipes, Screen figures, Connecting cir-
cuits and Morgan lantern are open action skills; whilst Carron
stakes, “Folding ribbons into flowers”, “colorful knots” and
“colorful silk flower” are examples where the test environment
is fixed and are therefore closed action skills. From the above
T-test results, it can be seem that mental disability affects the
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 1215
Table 1.
Independent Samples Test (sample: 217).
Levene’s Test for
Equality of Variances t-test for Equality of Means
95% Confidence Interval of the Difference
Project F Sig. t df Sig. (2-tailed)Mean
Difference Std. Error
Difference Lower Upper
Equal variances
assumed 19.075 .000 5.507215.000 14.487 2.631 9.302 19.672
Dovetail blocks Equal variances
not assumed 5.400174.795.000 14.487 2.683 9.192 19.782
Equal variances
assumed .090 .765 4.308215.000 12.086 2.806 6.556 17.617
Carron stakes Equal variances
not assumed 4.314213.940.000 12.086 2.801 6.564 17.608
Equal variances
assumed 9.389 .002 5.408215.000 12.698 2.348 8.070 17.325
Mike pipes Equal variances
not assumed 5.348195.064.000 12.698 2.374 8.015 17.380
Equal variances
assumed 15.816 .000 5.239215.000 12.982 2.478 8.098 17.866
Screen figures Equal variances
not assumed 5.161186.496.000 12.982 2.515 8.020 17.944
Equal variances
assumed 11.084 .001 4.750215.000 13.404 2.822 7.842 18.966
Linking Circuits Equal variances
not assumed 4.694193.545.000 13.404 2.856 7.772 19.036
Equal variances
assumed 3.731 .055 1.728215.085 4.473 2.588 -.629 9.575
Folding ribbons
into flowers Equal varianc es
not assumed 1.716202.905.088 4.473 2.607 -.668 9.614
Equal variances
assumed .050 .822 .396215.693 1.155 2.918 -4.596 6.906
Colourful Knots Equal variances
not assumed .395209.135.694 1.155 2.927 -4.616 6.926
Equal variances
assumed .475 .491 .519215.604 1.248 2.404 -3.490 5.986
Colourful Silk
flowers Equal variances
not assumed .516205.830.606 1.248 2.417 -3.518 6.013
Equal variances
assumed 10.613 .001 8.276215.000 21.619 2.612 16.470 26.768
Morgan Lantern Equal variances
not assumed 8.164189.704.000 21.619 2.648 16.395 26.843
Equal variances
assumed 3.340 .069 6.569216.000 93.673 14.261 65.564 121.782
score Equal variances
not assumed 6.496194.820.000 93.673 14.419 65.234 122.112
ability to complete open action skills, whilst closed action skill
tests are much less affected.
Correlation between Mentally Retarded Students ’
Action Skills and IQ
The relationship between IQ and the ability to learn action
skills has been discussed and debated by many researchers,
with no conclusion being reached. For example, the work of M.
L. Mattson et al. does not recognize that there is a relationship
between IQ and ability to learn action skills whilst W. R. Hus-
bend et al. suggest that there exists some sort of relationship.
Japanese psychologists Matsubara attempts to summarize the
various views into two main conclusions. When the learner has
normal levels of intelligence, the ability to learn small muscle
action skills and intelligence shows a small positive correlation.
The higher the level of intelligence and higher the academic
performance; gross action skills learning and intelligence be-
come practically unrelated. After going through psychological-
training of action skills, there is still little relationship between
ability to learn and intelligence. When the learner has below
normal intelligence, the small muscle and gross action skills
learning and intelligence have a clear positive correlation. It
also showed that the lower the intelligence, the slower the lear-
ning progress (Shao & Pi, 1990).
To gain a deeper understanding of this problem, we use the
results from the 217 participants in the nine action skills tests
for correlation analysis. The correlation between IQ and the
total score and the seven action skills tests: dovetail building
blocks, Carron stakes, Mike pipes, Screen figures, Connecting
circuits and Morgan lantern had a very strong correlation, re-
spectively: .471, .448, .332, .342, .401, .342 and .521. Of these
tests Morgan lantern and IQ had the strongest correlation. This
is similar to what was observed at the test site, as severely men-
tally disabled students showed a huge difference in their ability
to complete the “Morgan lantern” test compared to mildly
mentally retarded students. However for “Folding ribbons into
flowers”, “Colorful knots” and “Colorful Silk Flowers” the
correlation coefficient of these three projects and IQ was .142,
.044 and .074 respectively. The correlation is very small, espe-
cially for “Colorful knots” and “Colorful silk flowers” and IQ
where there is almost no correlation, as shown in Table 2 be-
low. Inspection of these test environments shows easily that
there is no real relationship between these projects and IQ divi-
sion or muscle size.
Therefore for those with below average IQ, it is perhaps bet-
ter to judge by personal traits to decide what action skills a
person has, rather than which part of the muscle type an action
skill belonged to, as it has a more causal relationship to IQ. In
other words, the conditions behind mentally disabled people
successfully learning action skills are based upon whether an
action skill is open or closed, as well as its complexity and its
ability to be replicated. It matters little therefore which part of
the muscles is involved in the operation.
Unlike Matsubara “big muscles, small muscles” theory, we
believe that for students with intellectual disabilities, to mimic a
simple closed action skill has almost no relationship to intelli-
gence; whilst complex action skills requiring judgment and are
grouped under open action skills have a clear positive link to
intelligence, where the lower the IQ the slower the progress of
learning such action skills.
Action Skills Comparison between Mentally Retarded
Students and the Sunshine Home Students
In order to investigate the effect vocational skills training had
on improving the level of action skills, the two groups (men-
tally retarded students and Sunshine home students) went
through an independent two-sample T-test. The results showed
that the average value for the students was 668.51 and 661.03
respectively. The T test result was .366, significance level sig
was .715. This means that the null hypothesis (H0) should be
accepted and that there is no difference in the mentally retarded
students and the sunshine home students in their action skills.
However for IQ, the mentally retarded students had an average
IQ of 45.00 whilst Sunshine Home students had an IQ of 41.96.
The t-test result was 2.722 and significance level sig was .007.
This means that the null hypothesis should be rejected and that
there is a significant difference between mentally retarded stu-
dents and Sunshine Home students IQ. To conclude, both
groups have similar action skills but mentally retarded students
have higher average IQ than Sunshine Home students (shown
in Table 3).
Factor Analysis of the Action Skills Test Data
To further explore the relationship between the motor tests
and action skills, and to summarize and interpret the test results
with fewer variables, exploratory factor analysis (EFA for short)
is used. Test results for the nine action skills tests and a total of
217 samples are used for factor analysis. The statistical method
used is principal component analysis, factor extraction eigen-
values (1 as the limit), the rotation method of the biggest vari-
ance, correlation matrix to select the KMO and sphere of Bart-
lett’s test value of .798 to meet the conditions of a factor analy-
sis (Huang & Guan, 2010). The program analyses and gives re-
sults for three components, the cumulative variance of 68.493%,
as shown in Table 4; have to factor loadings after factor analy-
sis rotation matrix as shown in Table 5.
It can be seen from Table 5 that dovetail building blocks,
Mike pipes, Screen figures, Connecting circuits and Morgan
lantern make up a large composition of component 1. However
for component 2 what makes up a larger composition are “Fold-
ing ribbons into flowers”, “Colorful knots” and “Colorful Silk
Flowers”. For component 3, the load factor is the action skills
test Carron stakes.
Table 2.
Correlations (sample: 217)
parameter Dovetail
blocks Carron
stakes Mi ke pipesScreen
figures Linking
Circuits Folding ribbons
into flowers Colorful
Knots Colorful Silk
flowers Morgan
Lantern score
IQ Pearson Correlation
Sig. (2-tailed)
**Correlation is significant at the .01 level (2-tailed). *Correlation is significant at the .05 level (2-tailed).
Table 3.
Independent Samples Test(sample: 217).
Levene’s Test for
Equality of Variances t-test for Equality of Means
95% Confidence I nterval of the
Project F Sig. t df Sig. (2-tailed)Mean DifferenceStd. Error
Difference Lower Upper
Equal variances
assumed 1.785 .184 .366 130 .715 7.478 20.409 –32.899 47.855
Score Equal variances
not assumed .367 127.839.714 7.478 20.373 –32.834 47.790
Equal variances
assumed .059 .809 2.722 130 .007 3.042 1.118 .831 5.254
IQ Equal variances
not assumed 2.733 128.785.007 3.042 1.113 .840 5.244
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s .
Table 4.
Total Variance Explained.
Initial Eigenvalues Extraction Sum s of Squa re d Loa din gs Rotation Sum s of Squared Loadings
Component Total % of Variance Cumulative %Total % of VarianceCumulative %Total % of Variance Cumulative %
1 3.695 41.053 41.053 3.695 41.053 41.053 2.592 28.800 28.800
2 1.461 16.238 57.292 1.461 16.238 57.292 2.291 25.451 54.251
3 1.008 11.201 68.493 1.008 11.201 68.493 1.282 14.242 68.493
4 .629 6.985 75.477
5 .602 6.692 82.170
6 .501 5.572 87.741
7 .486 5.396 93.138
8 .325 3.610 96.747
9 .293 3.253 100.000
xtraction Method: Principal Component Analysis.
Table 5.
Rotated Component Matrix(a).
1 2 3
Dovetail blocks .644 –.007 .485
Carron stakes .126 .208 .866
Mike pipes .676 .424 –.087
Screen figures .766 .321 –.036
Linking circuits .757 .160 .108
Folding ri bbons into flowers .168 .761 .335
Colorful knots .185 .800 –.158
Colorful silk flower s .078 .847 .264
Morgan lantern .690 –.061 .263
Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis. Rotation Method: Varimax
with Kaiser Normalization. A Rotation converged in 5 iterations.
After inspection of the above mentioned action skills tests, it
becomes evident that the main factor on the load factor charac-
teristics of the larger projects are “open” action skills where its
operating environment is ever changing and unpredictable. An
example being the dovetail building blocks test where every
time the building blocks are dismantled and the initial position
of each building block is different. Due to the different combi-
nations, a strong ability to adapt, sound judgment and flexibility
are needed for the test. Another example would be the Mor-
ganlantern test, where the combination of light and dark is com-
pletely random; it is impossible to predict what the next com-
bination will be and therefore rely on the ability to constantly
adapt to changes in the boundary conditions to succeed. Mike
pipes, Screen figures and connecting circuits all also reflect
these key characteristics. We therefore group these tests as tests
of resilience as in these tests it is the constant need to adapt that
made them difficult. We name this factor the resilience factor
or the “ability to respond” factor.
Factor one and two are very different and those tests that
factor most for component two are based on closed action skills,
tests where the operating environment remain unchanged. For
example, tests such as “Folding ribbons into flowers”, “Color-
ful knots” and “Colorful silk flowers” are testing the ability to
follow the video instructions step by step in folding and creat-
ing the correct shape. There are no changes in the boundary
conditions and the entire test is the based upon the ability to
mimic without the need of the number of response capabilities.
This means a lesser need and dependence on intelligence; we
therefore group these tests as testing the ability to imitate. Ac-
cordingly, we name the factor the imitation factor or the “abil-
ity to mimic” factor.
There is also a third factor that was completely different from
the two mentioned above. A test which shows a larger coeffi-
cient for this factor is the Carron stakes test, which tests the
participants’ ability to quickly move the stakes. This tests the
participants speed and flexibility in a timed test. Therefore, this
third group test participants’ speed and we name this the speed
Potential professional positions for the mentally retarded
such as: cooks, bakers, manual laborers, tally clerks, porters
and other such work, after analysis shows that these profes-
sional positions and competence to complete the job require
action skills. After discussions with people with the above pro-
fessions we can basically group the jobs into needing three
factors: the ability to respond, the ability to imitate and speed.
These three are the basic elements for professional competence.
However, for different occupations the proportion of each fac-
tor and their importance is different. For example, chefs and
bakers need a strong ability to imitate and a lot of speed but
with less use for ability to respond to situations. Tally clerks
and porters need a lot of speed and resilience whilst ability to
imitate is less demanding. Manual laborers need strong resil-
ience, the ability to mimic and moderate speed. Waiters need a
strong ability to respond to quickening pace and speed but do
not need a high requirement in their ability to imitate. This way,
students with different aptitudes and strengths will have advan-
Copyright © 2012 SciRe s . 1217
tages for certain occupations due to their professional potential.
On the other hand, as long as a mentally retarded person has a
certain amount of all three abilities, even if they are severely
mentally disabled, with repeated training it is still possible for
them to take on repetitive work. Action skills tests and factor
analysis provide direction to their potential career paths and
Correlation between the Three Ability Factors and IQ
Doing the factor analysis by the SPSS program, if you select
the option of coefficients in correlation Matrix, you will obtain
coefficient matrix as Table 6 shows. According to factor analy-
sis, the coefficient matrix from which it can be obtained the
capability score using the three factors: ability to respond, imi-
tate and speed.
F11 = .231 × S11 – .134 × S12 + .279 × S13 + .332 × S14 + .329
× S15 – .110 × S16 – .016 × S17 – .156 × S18 + .3 04 × S19
Where: S11, S12······ S
19 are respectively the first partici-
pant’s scores in the action skills tests: dovetail building blocks,
Carron stakes and all the tests ending with the Morgan lantern
test. F11 is the final test score for the first participant.
Fi1 = .231 × Si1 – .134 × Si2 + .279 × Si3 + .332 × Si4 + .329 ×
Si5 – .110 × Si6 – .016 × Si7 – .156 × Si8 + .304 × Si9
Where for Si1, Si2······ Si9 the i is the number of the partici-
pant (1 being the first participant) to attempt the tests: dovetail
building blocks, Carron stakes ······ Morgan lantern. Fi1 being
similar in that i is the number of the participant and being the
overall test score. In a similar way test scores are worked out
for Fi2, Fi3 (factors two and three).
By using the above formulas, it is possible to work out scores
for ability to respond (Fi1), ability to imitate (Fi2) and speed (Fi3)
and therefore undertake analysis between the correlation be-
tween these scores and IQ. The correlation analysis results
show that between ability to respond and IQ there was a strong
correlation of .522 whilst ability to imitate and IQ showed a
correlation score of –0.062, the speed factor and IQ was be-
tween these two factors showing a correlation score of .307.
The above studies have shown that the ability to imitate is far
Table 6.
Component Score Coefficient Matrix.
1 2 3
Dovetail blocks .231 –.170 .326
Carron stakes –.134 –.009 .747
Mike pipes .279 .120 –.253
Screen figures .332 .043 –.211
Linking circuits .329 –.057 –.060
Folding ri bbons into flowers –.110 .339 .189
Colorful Kn o ts –.016 .413 –.270
Colorful Silk flowe rs –.156 .409 .131
Morgan Lantern .304 –.182 .120
Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis. Rotation Method: Varimax
with Kaiser Normalization.
less dependent on IQ compared to the ability to respond whilst
action skills that rely on speed shows a correlation in-between
the scores for respond and imitate (shown in Table 7).
Reliability and Validity
Reliability of the test. The statistical analysis of the results
shows a retest reliability of .7445; and internal consistency
reliability (Cronbach’s alpha) of .915.
Validity of the test. After testing students that have already
gained vocational qualifications or professional skills test
results, the results are then analyzed along with motor test
results. As for the method and tool used to analyze these
results, the method used is SPSS statistical software. Pro-
fessional performance and validity test to test tools and
methods, corresponding results obtained using the test re-
sults available for chefs and bakers show criterion-related
validity of .275; whilst criterion-related validity of test re-
sults for those with a tendency towards the occupation tall
clerk is .705.
Evidence supporting the effectiveness of this case. After go-
ing through the motor tests, students are placed into various
vocational learning classes. Those that graduated and found
work gained good feedback from their employers. This also
supports the use and effectiveness of such testing. This is
shown in Table 8.
Main Conclusion
There are still some issues with the testing procedure and the
results. These problems are: the specialized nature of the test
subject, the degree of standardization in the test being not high
enough and a relatively small sample size. However, a prelimi-
nary conclusion can still be made, and below are the main aspects.
Severely Mentally Retarded People are Shown to
Have Better Action Skills than IQ
Out of the 217 participants 29 are severely mentally disabled.
The subjects’ action skills and IQ statistics show an average IQ
of 34.83 (T-scores), whilst their action skills show an average
of 40.90 (T-scores). Clearly, the severely mentally retarded
students have higher action skills than intelligence. Professor
Chen Yunying in her article “Mentally retarded students’ intel-
lectual and adaptive behavior characteristics and relationship
analysis” (Chen et al., 2005) states that “for severely mentally
retarded students there exist difference between operational and
verbal IQ. Overall mentally retarded students have significantly
higher operational IQ than verbal.” Chen has also conducted
research on vocational action skills in mildly, moderate and
severely handicapped people. She concluded that there was no
significant difference between their action skills and degree of
mental disability (F = .641, p > .05). “Mentally retarded stu-
Table 7.
Correlations (sample: 217).
The resilience The abi lity to imitateThe speed
IQ Pearson Correlation
Sig. (2-tailed)
**Correlation is significant at the .01 level (2-tailed).
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Table 8.
The effectiveness case.
Name Result Employer Position Evaluation
Student Zhu Tendency to become
waiter A Hotel Cleaner Did a great job, helpful, got on well with colleagues.
Student Yang Tendency to become
Chef Restaurant Catering Kitchen WorkerVery active and meticulous. Not afraid of working hard or being tired.
Respects other workers, wants to learn.
Student Tang Tendency to become
waiter. Hotel Chain Waiter Pa ssion for work, good service, good communica tion with patrons
Student Ni Tendency to become
Chef Hong Zhang Xing M ain
restaurant for this group.Kitche n workerGood communic ation skills, w or ks hard and perseveres. Wants to learn
Student Wu T endency to be come
waiter A hotel Cleaner Qualified for j ob, worked carefully and meticulously. Did not blame things
on others faults.
Student Zhang Tendency to become
waiter A hotel at an airport Worker’s canteen
waiter Took on heavy responsibilitie s at work, good interpersonal communication.
tudent He Tendenc y to become
cook Food and Beverage OutletKitchen WorkerDid get good reviews but n ow u ndertaking military se rv ice
dents’ Chinese Wechsler Intelligence Scale results: analysis and
education countermeasures “written by a teacher at Shenzhen
Yuan Ping Special School Zheng Hong, goes into details about
severely mentally retarded students and the difference between
their verbal and operational IQ. Hong also states that there is
difference between Verbal and operational IQ and that the dif-
ference is statistically significant (t = 8.939, p = .000) (Zheng,
2005). However, Hong’s conclusion is completely different to
Chen’s conclusion in that she believes that severely mentally
disabled students had much better verbal IQ and her data
showed this by being also statistically significant (Zheng, 2005).
The results of this study are generally consistent with the con-
clusions of the study by Professor Chen Yunying.
Moderately to Severely Mentally Retarded Students
Have Untapped Professional Potential
Independent two-sample t-test show that between moderately
to severely mentally retarded students and mildly mentally
retarded students that for action skills tests that are simple
closed tasks that relied on imitation, there is no real difference
in their scores. This is shown by a correlation of – .062, which
is no real correlation. However, the correlation analysis also
showed that for scores of tests that relied on speed and ability to
respond and IQ showed strong correlation of .522 and .307.
These statistical results show that imitation is much less de-
pendent on IQ compared to ability to respond which requires a
degree of intelligence. This means that severely mentally re-
tarded persons should engage in work that does not require
speed but should be engaged in simple tasks that require repeti-
tion and imitation. This way, their professional potential is
expected to be developed.
Life Experience and Training Can Also Help Improve
Action Skills
Conducting a two-sample T-test using mentally retarded stu-
dents and the Sunshine Home students show that although
Sunshine Home students had on average a lower IQ, there is no
significant difference in their action skills. This shows that with
the accumulation of life experience and also training (done at
Sunshine Homes), mentally disabled persons action skills can
Individual cases from the testing process also show that the
accumulation of housework and other life experiences enhances
their action skills above their IQ for mentally disabled people.
Participants such as Ms Sun who is ranked bottom for IQ out of
the 26 students with an IQ of 35 but had an action skills test
score that is tied for sixth (3 people tied). Another example is
39 year old Ms Feng who with an IQ of 40 is ranked in that
same group as third lowest but who on the action skills tests
have the second highest score. According to staff, these two
students come from particularly difficult families which mean
that heavy domestic work and the training at Sunshine Homes
allow them to have action skills beyond their IQ levels. These
cases prove that with a suitable amount of training and time, it
is possible for mentally disabled people to improve their life
skills (Chen, 2004).
Summary and Recommendations
Studies show that moderate to severely mentally disabled
students show no statistically significant differences compared
to mildly mentally disabled students in their ability to imitate
simple close d action skills. At the sa me time, mentally retarded
persons show different vocational potential advantages. From
the test results, some mentally retarded students are suitable to
become cooks and bakers and other such job while others are
more suitable to become tally clerks or waiters. Also, following
the accumulation of life experience and tasks such as house-
work which can target certain skills and train them, mentally
retarded adults can still improve their action skills beyond their
intelligence levels. During the test, we also learned that men-
tally retarded persons have a strong desire for employment, the
desire to integrate into society and the want to be like everyone
else in happily leading an independent life living by their own
hard work. It is suggested that special vocational schools could
test their students’ action skills, and according to their charac-
teristics and professional orientation to engage in targeted vo-
cational training. This will not only increase the quality and
effectiveness of the teaching for the students but also help them
improve their employability leading to their integration within
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