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MTA Mechanical/Technical Comprehension


Test that assesses the mechanical/technical understanding using animated items (instruments, to which a construction plan must be assigned); to be used with adolescents and adults.

Theoretical background

In psychology there is a multitude of terms like “technical/constructive” or “practical/technical understanding”, which are used in connection with mechanical/technical understanding. Pauli & Arnold (1972) limit the definition in the following way: “Technical understanding broadly contains the following abilities:

  • to understand and describe technical drawings or instruments and to describe their usefulness
  • to recognize the functional importance of the individual parts and to explain their coaction
  • to correctly understand and describe basic technical laws (e.g. the effect of the lever), with which everybody is acquainted in daily life
  • the personal inner connection with technical problems (eagerness or revulsion).”

The MTA tries to cover the above-mentioned abilities from points a–c.


In the first run, 4 plans per instrument are presented. The task consists of finding the one plan, which does not allow the sequence of movements shown before (in an animation). If all four constructions allow this sequence of movements, then the answer “all constructions are correct” must be selected. In the second run, either one of the 4 plans per instrument must be selected as correct or the answer can be “all constructions are incorrect”. So in the first run one incorrect plan must be discovered among the four plans presented per instrument, whereas in the second run one correct plan must be found. The test has an “item-related time-limit”. This means that the next item appears automatically after a certain time interval (2 minutes) has elapsed.


The defined test score is the number of items solved.


The reliability in the sense of an inner consistency is given due to the validity of the Rasch model. The following characteristic values for reliability were calculated: split-half-reliability r=0.87, Cronbach’s alpha r=0.84 and Guttman’s lambda 3 r=0.84.


Since the tasks of the MTA coincide by their content as well as formally with those of other mechanical/technical tests that were checked for their external validity, the external validity is deemed to be secure also for them. One external validity criterion (positive/negative completed retraining in a technical profession, r=.47) confirms the selection quality of the MTA.

Testing time

Test phase: 40 minutes at the maximum.


Manuela Gute, DTH Television Grup
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