Should We Consider Preparation Time When Evaluating Someone’s Performance?

Who’s the better competitor — the person who won the championship after spending hours each day practicing or the person who won the championship with very little practice leading up to it? Or are their achievements equal?

How about completion time? Should a student who spends only 20 minutes on a test and gets an A+ be thought of more highly than the student who spends 60 minutes on the same test and gets an A+? Students with learning disabilities sometimes get significantly more time on a test than others, and yet if they get the same final score on a test we treat the outcomes identically.

Would you think more of this blog post if I told you I spent only a minute writing it, versus two hours? Unlike other aspects of performance — such as the NBA, where exceptions notwithstanding players spend around equal amounts of time preparing for games — the blogosphere has a great deal of variance on this front. Some bloggers spend hours on posts; others not much at all. This is one reason why I think it’s difficult to infer too much about someone’s intelligence from a blog. You just don’t know how much time they’re spending. Then again, maybe this doesn’t matter.

Bottom Line: Almost two years ago I advocated for “certainty scales” to be put next to answers spaces on school tests, forcing students to indicate their level of certainty about their answer. I think a similar type of additional label, perhaps around input time required to obtain the output, would give a more holistic perspective on a person’s performance, and not just in school settings.

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