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INITIATION INTO THE USE OF PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING IN THE EDUCATIONAL COUNSELLING

Conf.univ.dr. Loredana Ileana DROBOT

Psih.pr. Vasilica GHERMAN.

Psih.ing.Remus ROŞCA

I.1. THE FUNDAMENTS OF THE PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING I.1.1. The psychological testing I.1.2. Qualitative assessment methods – direct observation and interview I.2. USING THE COMPUTERIZED TESTING SYSTEM «PSISELTEVA» IN THE EDUCATIONAL AREA I.2.1. Individual tests of cognitive skills I.2.2. Individual tests of attention I.2.3. Individual psychomotor tests

Objectives: after studying this chapter, the students will be able to:

1. define the methods involved in the psychological assessment

2. analyze the quantitative methods (tests) and the qualitative methods

3. explain the types of tests of the computerized testing system

4. specify the main characteristics of the samples

Recommended bibliography:

1. Cosmovici, A., Iacob, L., (2005). Psihologie şcolară, Editura Polirom, Iaşi

2. Drăgan, I. Dumitru Ozunu ; coord.: Gheorghe Tomsa. (2005 ) - Dicţionar de consiliere şi orientare - Bucureşti : Editura Credis

3. Miclea, M. (1999). Psihologie cognitivă. Modele teoretico-experimentale, Editura Polirom Iaşi

4. Mitrofan, N., Mitrofan, L. (2005). Testarea psihologică, Inteligenţa şi aptitudinile, Editura Polirom Iaşi

Mitrofan, N., Mitrofan, L. (2005). Testarea psihologic ă , Inteligen ţ a ş i aptitudinile ,

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OVERVIEW

Performing a profession at a high level of performance requires a set of specific skills,

an adequate motivations and a number of features of personality which can be key resources for success in that profession. The work of school counselling assumes as the first two major steps:

a) the psychological examination of the pupil wishing to be oriented in terms of potential skills, interests and aspirations he has, and the other sides of personality;

b) correlating the resulted psychological profile with the requirements of exercising a certain profession. The psychological examination will provide the counsellor an individualized profile to be compared with the profile of the occupation / occupations for which the student expresses actively a predominant interest. In the guiding process, the counsellor will take into account the resources offered by the familial / educational environment where the student progresses, that is the labour market dynamics, that are constantly changing. The usefulness of the counselling will be reflected in the academic performances that the student will obtain, and in the occupational status that he will acquire after completing the training.

I.1. THE FUNDAMENTS OF THE PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING

Located on the first level of psychological intervention, the educational counselling differs from other forms of intervention - psychotherapy, crisis intervention, psychological counselling by:

a) the action area – educational issue

b) the addressability – the subjects (pupils) and the educational partners (teachers,

parents)

c) specific intervention methods obtained by the interaction of the psychological

assessment and intervention procedures with those of specific pedagogy. The educational counselling act is a complex act of clarification, influence, guidance, psycho-pedagogical modelling, which has to increase the potential of the educational subjects and the complete use of the personal resources. The complexity and importance of the educational counselling act involves, for the educational counsellors, both their familiarity with the psychological and pedagogical

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technology as well as the training of the working skills with specific tools to these technologies. Psychology provides the educational counsellors the psychological theories, regularities and the procedures of investigation specific to psycho-diagnosis. The psycho-diagnosis refers to a ”complex set of strategies and techniques to enable a systematic and objective assessment of the psychological condition - processes, regulations, skills and abilities, personality traits, typological and relational structures - of a person or group of people” (M. Minulescu). The psychological evaluation process involves multiple methods - quantitative or qualitative, and consists in collecting data through the use of more specific processes and methods for understanding, diagnosis and prognosis of the behaviour. The most important procedures of the psychological evaluation are: testing, interview and direct observation of the behaviour.

I.1.1. The psychological testing

The psychological testing is the process of administration, scoring and interpretation of the psychological tests designed to investigate the individual, in order to really know / self- discover the defining psychic characteristics. The psychological tests are standardized instruments used to measure certain characteristics, traits or behavioural characteristics, in order to determine the mental functioning of an individual as a way to understand and predict his behaviour. The tests may be considered psychological measurements when a sample of behaviour, characteristic to the measured properties can be expressed as a numerical score. The numerical score, awarded after a predetermined method, is the performance obtained by the subject in fulfilling the testing requirements. The score obtained by a subject, converted by statistical methods into a standard score, can be appreciated only by comparing it to normalized standard scores in five classes (according to the normal curve of distribution Gauss) of a reference group - the normative group. As a result, an individual's performance is evaluated, by statistical comparison, to the performance on the test obtained by a sample of subjects representative for the population to which the test addresses (e.g. the population of students), to see where in the report are placed the results of this population taken as a standard.

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The etalon in 5 classes normalized has as a percentage: 6.7%, 24.2%, 38.2%, 24.2%, 6.7% and has the following interpretation:

Class V – very good results (6.7% of the population) Class IV – good results (24.2% of the population) Class III – average results (38.2% of the population) Class II – poor results (24.2% of the population)

Class I – very poor results (6.7% of the population) By standardization (the same way of administration, quotation and interpretation for all individuals) the tests give the possibility of correct psychological measurements, accurate and independent of investigator’s subjectivity. By accomplishing the conditions of validity, precision, sensitivity and calibration, the test becomes significant for forming an objective and realistic prognosis. The objectives of psychological testing in the educational area focus on two dimensions: skills assessment and evaluation of personality factors. The skills designate an organized system of attributes of the psychological processes that facilitate the successful implementation of the activity in different areas. The mental traits refer to the characteristics of the sensorial and cognitive mental processes observable in behavioural plan as: visual acuity, accuracy, speed, accuracy, timing, fluidity, flexibility, strength, depth, etc. The assessment of the abilities is the knowledge of the level of development and functioning of the mental processes through the use of specific benchmarks to ensure:

a) the measuring of the sensory and cognitive mental processes: perceptions, representations, memory, thinking, intelligence, imagination;

b) the determination of the characteristics of psycho-motility: reactivity, perceptual-

motor coordination, mobility, psychomotor plasticity;

c) the measurement of the dynamic-energizing processes: motivation, affectivity;

d) the measurement of the mental regulating processes: language, attention, volition.

The assessment of the skills is very important in educational counselling given that ”the ability has cognitive characteristics responsible for data acquisition and processing data”

(A. Stan) and their level of development ”reflects the way of development, structuring, integration and functioning of all processes and mental functions” (P.P. Neveanu). The skills assessment criteria are:

a) the speed, expressing the speed of information processing – the speed of cognitive

information processing;

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b) the accuracy, expressing the quality of the processing at a cognitive level (accuracy, precision). The aptitude tests are administered in a standardized time to highlight the subject’s performance and to identify the differences between individuals in terms of performance. The responses to aptitude tests are assessed in terms of correct / incorrect. Solving the problems in skills tests involves mental effort and mobilization from the subject in order to achieve a high level of efficiency. The evaluation of the personality is done by determining the temperamental traits and the character-attitude traits. Although not translated into performance indices as happening in skills, measuring these attributes and personality traits is important because they put their imprint substantially on the general dynamics of behaviour, and thus on performance. The temperament represents the dynamic-energy side of the personality. The disclosure of this side of the individual is necessary in educational counselling because by identifying the individual temperamental characteristics given by the intensity indicators (the available energy dose), mobility (speed, fluency, commutativity of the nervous and motor processes), stability (the balance between excitation and nervous inhibition) reactivity- sensitiveness (the size of the threshold of emotional liability) may explain some aspects of the internal mental processes and of the external behavioural acts. The character represents the relational-value side of the personality formed by the assimilation of value patterns promoted in the social environment and it consists of a set of psychological traits and attitudes expressed consistently in their behaviour. The character is measured by the degree of consistency and stability of reasons, beliefs, attitudes and personal conception of life. Highlighting the character traits and the attitudes enable you to answer the questions so frequently used in counselling: ”how does he manifest / will he manifest”, ”how does he behave / will he behave” an educational issue in a social situation. Is he or will he be responsible, persevering, diligent, conscientious, respectful, unselfish, modest, or negligent, lazy, selfish, contemptuous, supercilious? The positive character traits enable the subject to valorise the skills and ensure maintaining the efforts towards achieving the goals set together with the counsellors and the educational partners. The negative character traits hinder or disrupt the personal development emphasizing more and more the problems he is facing.

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The responses to personality tests and quizzes cannot be considered good or bad; they are self-evaluations influenced by the self moral-value system – self-image, personal convictions, beliefs, interests, preferences. Scoring in the objective tests of personality is made by quantifying the elections (the frequency of responses) of the subject for one situation or another from those proposed by the test, each situation being specific to a particular style of relating to itself and the external environment.

An important role in the assessment of the personality is the use of tests of measure of the vocational interests. They enable the counsellors to help the subjects discover their interests, talents, abilities and preferences that, guided by the counsellor, to transform them into useful information for decision making in professional or vocational orientation. The functions of psychological testing are:

1. The evaluative function - refers to the knowledge and assessment of mental capacity, to the

structure of individual personality and to highlighting the psycho-behavioural variability or the differences between individuals

2. The decision-making function - relates to the use of test results in:

a) the individual act of decision regarding the personal future, knowledge and self-

acceptance, involvement in personal development programmes, efficiency and performance orientation, choosing a specialization appropriate to skill endowment and to vocation.

b) the act of psychological decision regarding: the diagnosis of the present state and

the prognosis of the psycho-behavioural development of a subject or a group, the modalities of cognitive intervention, motivational and behavioural at the individual

level and the group level, educational, professional and vocational counselling, the selection for special programs.

c) the psycho-pedagogical decision-making act on the improvement of the teaching

act by establishing educational programs tailored to individual features and intended to remedy some problems of school adaptation-successful-integration, behavioural problems, school dropout, conflicts. The psychological decision-making process involves value judgments, responsibility and competence in the interpretation of data obtained through psychological testing. The value judgments are referring to the fact that the evaluation of the test results is done in terms of capacity, performance or in terms of compatibility between the personality structure and the requirements of the school or professional activity. The competence refers to:

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a) the ability to manage, interpret and translate the information given by the test in prescription with meaning, practical and appropriate b) the ability to formulate recommendations for testing beneficiaries (students, educational partners) in relation to the strengths and weaknesses of the subject being evaluated. Responsibility refers to the fact that the wrong decisions can bring serious harm to the subjects evaluated because they can affect their self-image, they can change their future or may deny their educational opportunities. The avoidance of decisional errors can be achieved by collecting the relevant data using qualitative assessment methods: interview and observation method.

I.1.2. Qualitative assessment methods – direct observation and interview

THE DIRECT OBSERVATION (non-instrumental) - consists in gathering, selecting,

analyzing and organizing the information for understanding, classification and clarification of the behaviour of the examined individual. To achieve this goal, the observation protocol should include:

1. Passport data: name, sex, age, education level

2. Data on concrete situation: date, location

3. The list of symptomatic aspects stable and dynamic: the constitutional type,

physiognomy issues (height, weight, distinctive marks - glasses, amputations, tics, mild dyskinesia or tingling), the temperamental type, mime (posture, gesture, walking), mimics, vegetative changes

4. The list of expressive and verbal behaviours (offers information on cultural,

temperamental and emotional aspects)

5. The list of reflexive behaviour:

a) perceptual aspects: seeking actively information, forming / not forming algorithm to scan the information field, resisting/bring distracted by the occurrence of circumstantial disturbance factors; b) retrieval issues: remembering / not remembering the graphic symbols that have to be detected, storing / not storing fast and correctly the given instructions, being durable / not durable the mental schemes formed (always asks to repeat instructions during the substantive proof, says at the end of the test that he was wrong because at one point he forgot what to do etc.)

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c)

the intellectual aspects: understanding / not understanding the information

forwarded, learning / not learning quickly and correct the action procedures,

asking / not requiring further explanation, reflecting / not reflecting on the task, acting calculated or precipitated / slowly etc.

d) volitional aspects: mobilizing / demobilizing when encountering difficulties,

exhibiting self-reliance in critical situations, or being confused, panic, no longer

working, complaining of difficulty of the task.

e) attitudinal issues: the attitude towards the psychological exam as a frustrating

situation (acceptance, disinterest, passivity, rebellion etc.); attitude towards the examiner (dominant, challenging opponent, nonconformist, aggressive,

impulsive); towards conformism (respect, politeness, acceptance, deference); attitude towards the task (disinterest, lack of mobilization, neglect, disparagement

- overrating difficulties, passivity to participation, mobilization, interest, value the quality of behaviour, etc.) 6. The list of working conduct:

a) the quality of the motor movements: timeliness, accuracy, coordination,

mobility, correct dosage of the movements’ strength, security or insecurity, precipitation or motor inertia, difficulties in adjusting the intensity of the movements, motor coordination difficulties, stiffness. b) the conduct in case of error: confused, psycho-motor confusion, jams, restlessness, impulsivity, indifference, abandonment to self-reliance, safety, presence of mind.

7. The list of emotional behaviour: expressive, verbal behaviour, autonomic and motor events (congestion / pallor of faces, sweating, trembling of the limbs). For marking each behaviour in part, may be used:

a) the rating scale with increments of 3,5,7 points;

b) adjectives or adverbs which describe the intensity of the behaviour (from very

strong to very weak) or the frequency of the behaviour (from very frequently to not at

all);

c) dihotonic assessments: present - absent;

d) detailed descriptions;

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THE INTERVIEW requires a genuine dialogue, unconventional, between the counsellor and the subject, in which the first incites the interviewee to reveal himself, to express his opinions, interests, future thoughts, to express his attitudes and, especially, to present the problems he faces. The stages of the interview:

1. the unstructured stage, of free maintenance on general problems (exchange of

opinions on shows watched, sports contests, football games, fashion etc.). This stage will be used as a starting point in building a long term relationship based on trust, sincerity, understanding and goodwill.

2. the semi-structured stage, when the dialogue is conducted using a personal guide

for collecting relevant and necessary personal information for making decisions about the diagnosis, prognosis and choice of strategies for counselling. The list of predetermined

questions will be directed, in particular, to the socio-cultural environment knowledge where he comes from, to the development and school problems, the difficulties in relationships with the family or other people, to the way of thinking about things and of making decisions. The semi-structured interview format will allow the evaluator to ask questions with open answer and additional questions to clarify the behaviour of the subject.

3. The final stage will be reserved for open discussion about the psychological test

results and the achieved level of personal development. This discussion facilitates realistic self-knowledge, clarifies the causes which led to some behavioural disturbances, the subject sensitizes towards awareness of strengths and vulnerabilities, is guided in the choice of effective strategies to optimize the behaviour, the options regarding the educational, vocational or professional counselling are set. Also, the agreement of the subject will be required on his integration in a counselling program or a particular training program (e.g. a special program for the gifted). The meaning that the counsellor evaluator extracts from the evaluation process based on the information gathered through the three processes characteristic to psychometric and qualitative methods - testing, observation and interview - will result in a synthetic act of psychological analysis of a case called psycho-diagnostic.

THE PSYCHO-DIAGNOSTIC is a logical reconstruction of the structure of a personality that can be expressed as a graphic psychological profile and / or as a descriptive report.

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This report may present the progress of the subject to the psychological testing specifying:

the general level of intelligence (low, medium, high, very high), the type of intelligence (verbal, abstract), the analytical reasoning ability and the analogue transfer; the type of memory (verbal / nonverbal, long / short, logical / mechanical, voluntary / involuntary) an the quality of memory on productivity; the type of attention (focused, distributive) and the quality of attention (stable, sustained / labile, easily distracted) the type of reactivity (hyper-alert, vigorous, moderate, slow, inert) and the quality of motor acts (mobility, coordination, fluidity, plasticity); the temperamental indicators described in terms of: exercise capacity, energy, mobility, stability, emotional balance, lack of impulsiveness and nervousness; the indicators of character - perseverance, honesty, conscientiousness, etc. The report will be completed by highlighting the strengths and vulnerable points and by specifying the recommendations. The educational guidance can use the following types of psycho-diagnostic:

1. the psycho-diagnosis of training and education, establishing the level of skills development at a given point of the evolution of a subject for his optimal education and training; 2. the psycho-diagnosis of school, professional, vocational counselling, which prepares the balance of real and virtual potentials of a subject for optimum use of the resources; 3. the differential psycho-diagnosis obtained by comparing the results of a subject to the type results involved in the calibration of the testing system;

I.2.

USING THE COMPUTERIZED TESTING SYSTEM «PSISELTEVA» IN THE EDUCATIONAL AREA

The advantages of computerized testing include efficient testing, improved standardization of administration, fewer errors in scoring, inclusion of dynamic or sound elements, speed of processing the results and obtaining a psychological profile.

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The PSISELTEVA system consists of performance computerized tests that enable the possibility to establish the level the development of cognitive and psychomotor skills and highlight, through the qualitative interpretation of performance and using the direct observation method, both skills related to the ability to learn, to discover and to store working procedures, the ability of cognitive organization in new situations or critical situations, the ability to mentally estimate the time of a response, as well as some temperamental traits - volitional - of character, such as: activism, energetic tone, degree of emotion, ability of mobilization, the ability of mental effort, the ability of self-control, the opening to the rules imposed, persistence, seriousness in solving tasks. The information obtained through the administration of psychological tests in the system constitutes the base for the necessary preliminary analysis in:

the activity of identifying and counselling students who have not yet formed or strengthened the skills of mobilization, orientation, concentration, the prompt and sustained attention, of learning and memorising of some actionable procedures, of organizational cognition under stress and, therefore, presents the risk to make permanent the problematic behaviour, both for optimal adaptation to school requirements, as well as to adapt to future requirements of a profession. the activity of educational and vocational counselling that intend to identify the students who may have training difficulty in specific skills or setting the behaviour in dynamic professions and with a priority perceptual-motor component. the activity of identification if some typological features, such as: dynamic, psycho- motor flexibility and plasticity, rhythm and tempo of personal activity, control and self-control ability, the ability of mobilization and volunteer effort, emotional balance, perseverance, self control, sense of observation and presence of mind

I.2.1. Individual tests of cognitive skills:

the test de of general intelligence («BIG») consists of 8 subtests aiming: the verbal ability, the non-verbal ability, the operational ability, the analogical reasoning ability, the perceptual organization ability and the ability to focus attention. the analogical thinking test – highlights the ability to process information coming from the meaning of words and to establish logical links between sentences by analogy. the test of speed and distance perception («ADV») – aims the ability to assess the speed of movement of objects in space and to evaluate the distances between objects

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in motion, the ability to anticipate the positions of objects in the sequence of temporal moments. the test de of topographic logical memory («ML») – aims the topographic memory and the logical reproductive ability. The test reveals aspects regarding: the concentration and distribution of attention, the operational decision-making, risk taking, the reflexive behaviour in case of error. the test of learning-memorising – aims the ability of procedural memory (a form of the working memory). The content of the test asks: associative thinking, operational decision-making, risk-taking, resistance to frustration, perseverance, mobility and effort ability.

I.2.2. Individual tests of attention:

the test of focused attention Toulouse-Pieron type («DAM») – aims the ability to use selectively the cognitive resources. the test of sustained focused attention («TAC») – emphasizes the accuracy and perceptual speed, the ability of warned control, the level of inhibitory control. the test of distributor attention («CMA») – emphasizes the ability to prioritize alternatively, quickly, to a task or to another one, the speed and volume of perception, the ability of visual discrimination, ability of short memory. the test of switching attention («Tahistoscop») – focuses on the ability to rapidly shift the attention, the spatial memory ability, the cognitive inhibition ability (the ability to ignore irrelevant information in relation to the task). the vigilance test («VRM») – emphasizes the ability of detection, informational receptivity, observational performances under monotony conditions. the vigilance test («Vigilance») – emphasizes the ability to discriminate and identify in time the visual-signal stimulus, the optimal dosage of the processes of excitation and inhibition, sustained attention, self-control.

I. 2.3. Individual psychomotor tests

dynamic tracking test (“TUD”) – aims the capacity of perceptual-motor coordination; it also highlights the ability to evaluate the speed and the distance, the resistance to frustration, the ability of motor control, temperamental stability.

motor reactivity test (”RM”)

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reactivity and motor coordination test (“RCM”) – provides the possibility to make predictions about a person’s ability to form and strengthen operational motor schemes, the ability of cognitive organization in conditions of time pressing and the appearance of perturbation factors, the ability to control and command, the level of activation of sensory-motor attention, the ability to self-control. reaction time to visual stimuli test (”TR”) – measures the speed of response to visual stimuli. response time to visual and auditory stimuli test (”TRSC”) – measures the speed of response to stimuli differentiated visually and auditory. motor reactivity test, speed appreciation (”RMAV”) – concerns the correct and timely processing of the information, the ability to select promptly the ways of response, correct appreciation of the speeds and distances, attention commutativity. nervous resistance test (”RNE”) – aims the resistance to fatigue, functional plasticity (adequacy to the changing of the traditional ways of answer), the correct choice of the response, vigilance, perseverance. circulation test (”PRC”) – aims at the inspection and quick exploration of the deployment space of the test and of the space of action, accuracy of the perception of speed and evaluation of the speed of motion, presence of mind in pressing, urgent situations, commutative and sustained attention to adapt to the dynamic of the test.

COURSE SUMMARY

The first chapter of the course covers the fundaments of the psychological testing in the educational counselling and provides the specialists a synthetic perspective on the process of psychological investigation in order to familiarize them with the basic processes that can be used in the realistic knowledge of an educational subject's personality or in determining the inter-individual differences. In the course, it was considered necessary to focus on identifying the objectives, the purpose and the functions of psychological testing, on the interaction between the psychometric techniques to measure the psychological characteristics with objective techniques to deal with the personality, on the characteristics of decision-making in counselling and on the types of psycho-diagnostic specific to the educational field.

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In the second chapter, it is provided information about the contents of the computerized psychological testing system «SELTEVA» and the opportunities it offers in achieving the complex act of psychological analysis of an appropriate educational case and in setting the most appropriate psycho-educational means of improving the personal resources.

KEY CONCEPTS

1. psychological assessment

2. psychological tests

3. abilities assessment

4. personality assessment

5. decision making

6. evaluative function of testing

7. decisional function

8. value, competence, responsibility judgments

9. observation method

10. interview method

11. psycho diagnostic

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL RESOURCES

1. Cosmovici, A., Iacob, L., (2005). Psihologie şcolară, Editura Polirom, Iaşi

2. Drăgan, I. Dumitru Ozunu ; coord.: Gheorghe Tomsa. (2005 ) - Dicţionar de consiliere şi orientare - Bucureşti : Editura Credis

3. Miclea, M. (1999). Psihologie cognitivă. Modele teoretico-experimentale., Editura Polirom Iaşi

4. Mitrofan, N., Mitrofan, L. (2005). Testarea psihologică, Inteligenţa şi aptitudinile, Editura Polirom Iaşi

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OTHER USEFUL RESOURCES

1. Popescu, Tiberiu , “Permanenta educaţiei permanente”, Articole din Revista de Pedagogie, disponibil la http://www.1educat.ro/resurse/ise/permanenta- educatiei.html, accesat la 02.02.2009.

2. *** Educatia adultilor - un proiect sub egida Centrului de Training, Consultanta si Mediere, disponibil la http://educatiaadultilor.blogspot.com/2007/12/ce-este- educatia-adultilor.html, accesat la 02.02.2009.

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