C Profiles Explained

C profiles show a significant contrast between the student’s highest and lowest battery scores. The general pattern for C profiles is one high score (a relative strength), one middle score, and one low score (a relative weakness). Sometimes all three scores differ significantly from one another. 

Achievement Test Performance

The achievement test scores of students who have C profiles generally fall midway between the scores for the two corresponding B profiles. For example, students with the ability profile 4C (V+ Q–) show achievement levels that are approximately midway between those shown by the students with 4B (V+) and 4B (Q–) profiles. This means that the consequences for achievement test scores for students with C profiles are smaller and less easily summarized than those for students with B profiles.

Adapting Instruction for Students with Mixed Ability Profiles

Students with C (mixed) ability profiles are the most challenging to assist with planned interventions. This challenge occurs because it is often difficult to know when particular instructional methods or materials will capitalize on the students’ strengths or, instead, compensate for their weaknesses. For example, students who have difficulty creating and reasoning with mental models often perform much better if given a concrete model or a line drawing to work with when attempting to understand a problem. If the model or graphic is too complex, however, encoding it requires spatial reasoning that may exceed a student’s capabilities. 

The line between compensation for a weakness and capitalization on a strength is, therefore, often difficult to discern in advance. These effects differ among students depending on the complexity of the model, a given student’s familiarity with it, and the level of each student’s spatial or figural reasoning abilities.

When a student has both a relative strength and a relative weakness, as in a C profile, it becomes very difficult to know how a given intervention will be perceived and processed by the student. Plan a strategy based on your knowledge of the student’s learning preferences and challenges and your experience with the curricular materials.

Ultimately, the learners’ ease and success as they try to navigate their way through a lesson, a unit, and, eventually, a course help you determine whether a strategy is working as planned. Therefore, although all learners should be encouraged to develop strategies for regulating their own learning, such self-monitoring and self-reflection are particularly important for students with mixed patterns of cognitive strengths and weaknesses. 

Help these students understand that the process of learning, using, and then evaluating different strategies is similar to the process of trying on different articles of clothing to see how they fit. Explain that, like clothing, the strategy that fits best now may change as they mature or as the context varies.