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Psychological Assessment Seminar. Rubik’s cubes of colour , shape and size: Ethical psychological testing in a multicultural work environment Department of Industrial & Organisational Psychology 18 August 2010. agenda. Morning session: 08h30 - 13h00 • Welcome by Prof Dirk Geldenhuys

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Psychological assessment seminar l.jpg

Psychological Assessment Seminar

Rubik’s cubes of colour,

shape and size:

Ethical psychological testing in a multicultural work environment

Department of Industrial & Organisational Psychology

18 August 2010

Agenda l.jpg


Morning session: 08h30 - 13h00

• Welcome by Prof Dirk Geldenhuys

• Introduction: Welcome to the Rubik’s Cube Adventure

• A short history of psychological assessment

• The areas of psychological assessment

• Psychological assessment myth busters

Tea break: 11h00

• Legislation and ethics

• Ethical freeze role play

Lunch: 13h00 - 13h45

• Current topics in psychological assessment

• Psychological assessment Crosswords

• The future of psychological assessment

Conclusion: 15h00

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Why look at the past?

  • History influences current practice

    • Relevance

    • Evolved and progressed

  • History is important

    • Helps explain current practice

    • Strengths and weaknesses

    • Prevent repetitions of the ‘wrongs of the past’

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History of testing: An International Perspective

  • Over the years many authors, philosophers and scientist have explored various avenues in an attempt to assess human attributes. To mention a few;

  • Astrology (positions of planets to describe the personality of individuals and predict what may happen in their lives)

  • Physiognomy (judging the character of a person from external features of the body, especially the face.)

  • Graphology (the systematic study of handwriting and the notion that it can be used as an expression of personality characteristics)

  • Humorology

  • Phrenology

    (Foxcroft, 2009)

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Testing in South Africa: The Early Years

  • Psychology emerged as an academic discipline in South Africa after World War 1.

  • Many of the influential figures in the development of intellectual tests in South Africa where trained at American institutes.

  • Therefore tests which where typically used in the early phases where also American such as; Goddards 1911 revision of the

    Binet-Simons test, Termans 1916 Stanford revision, the Army Beta, the Porteus Maze Test etc.

  • In the period between the two world wars, social and human sciences in South Africa became important contributors to debates on crucial social issues including ‘the Native question”

    (Louw, 1997; Foxcroft, 2009; Classen, 1997)

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Testing in South Africa: The Early Years

  • Psychological knowledge was used as a tool legitimise a social order based on race as the perception was that psychological testing produced empirical data which supported certain explanations of this order.

  • There was an increase in the use of science as a factor in regulating aspects of social economic life.

  • Differential performance of black and white reinforced the idea of hierarchy of human societies and consequently differential treatment in terms of education, employment etc.

(Louw, 1997)

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Psychometric Testing

Psychometric testing is applied worldwide and used in various industries for recruitment, selection and counselling purposes (Gregory, 2000).

For the purpose of this seminar four important areas for assessment have been identified.

  • Cognitive assessment

  • Personality assessment

  • Behavioral assessment

  • Interest

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Range of tests and distributors available - Cognitive

Range of tests and distributors available - Cognitive

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Range of tests and distributors available - Cognitive

Range of tests and distributors available - Cognitive

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Cognitive Assessment

  • Some consensus

    • IOPs agree that cognitive ability test are valid and fair

    • Cognitive ability tests provide good but inadequate measures of intelligence

    • Other attributes are necessary to account for multi dimensional nature of performance (90% of respondents)

  • (Murphy, Cronin & Tam)

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Cognitive Assessment

  • Some controversy

    • Societal concerns

      • Cultural bias

      • Education

      • Socio-economic status

      • Education levels of parents

      • Effects of negative stereotypes

    • The g-Ocentric vs MI

  • (Murphy, Cronin & Tam)

  • (McKay, Doverspike, Bowen-Hilton & McKay)

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Cognitive Assessment

  • Unifying theoretical approach

    • 3 approaches

      • Structural approach (factor analytic)

      • Information-processing

      • Dynamic (based on learning theory)

  • “Learning as the critical factor underlying cognitive competence

  • and the mastery of problems and challenges”

  • (Taylor)

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  • Structural - Spearman (g – one general factor) and Thurstone 7&9 Primary mental abilities

  • static

  • - fluid & crystallised (Cattell)

  • - mostly power tests

  • Info processing – e.g. Ravens progressive matrices

  • receiving, processing & retrieval speeds

  • computer admin essential

  • Learning / dynamic approach

  • Vygotsky – Zone of proximal development (ZPD)

  • less susceptible to cultural bias

  • 3 phases of learning – conceptual understanding, compilation of execution procedures & automatization of processing.

  • Test – teach – test or pre-test – mediation – post-test

  • Emphasis on potential and not achievement

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Cost Pricing Analysis

  • Option 1: Purchasing a “report”

    • Advised for non-accredited users and for individual testing on once-off basis

    • Some test can be expensive (up to R3,000 per report)

    • Suppliers include SHL, Jopie van Rooyen, and Thomas International

    • Benefit: initial costs is low

      • Computer generated reports is time efficient

    • Downfall: ongoing high costs

      • Potential misuse of reports due to lack of control

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Cost Pricing Analysis

  • Option 2: Purchasing Material: Software or Paper-and-Pencil version

    • Advised for accredited users and group or large-scale testing on ongoing basis

    • Initial purchasing of material and software can be expensive (need manuals, booklets, answer sheets, scoring stencils, etc – between R2,000 – R25,000)

    • Suppliers include Minimize, M&M Initiatives, PsyTech

    • Benefit: ongoing assessments at minimal fee

    • Downfall: initial start-up fees can be high

      Software need ongoing purchasing of credits for reporting

      Manual interpretation, scoring and reporting is time consuming

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The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa:

  • Chapter 2: Bill of Rights “is a cornerstone of democracy in South Africa - democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom”.

  • Section 9(3): “The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race gender, sex, and pregnancy, marital status, ethical or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.

  • Section 9 (4): “No person may unfairly discriminate directly or undirectly against anyone on one or more grounds in terms of subsection (3).

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Employment Equity Act, No.55 (1998)

  • Section 8: “Psychological testing and other similar assessments of an employee are prohibited unless the test or assessment being used –

  • Has been scientifically shown to be valid and reliable;

  • Can be applied fairly to all employees;

  • Is not biased against any employee or group.

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    • Section 11: Burden of proof.

    • Section 15: Affirmative action.

    • Subsection 20(3): “capacity to acquire, within a reasonable time, the ability to do the job”

    • Code of Good Practice on the Integration of Employment Equity into Human Resources Policies and Practices: Section 10.

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    The Labour Relations Act, No. 66 (1995)

    • Chapter VIII: Unfair discrimination and unfair labour practices – same grounds as the Constitution.

    • Chapter VIII: Unfair discrimination and unfair labour practices – same grounds as the Constitution.

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    Legal Cases

    • Association of Test Publishers of South Africa Saville & Holdsworth (SA) and the Chairperson of the Professional Board for Psychology

    • Dispute: ATP: Any individual (unregistered) should be able to conduct psychometric assessments? HPCSA: Only registered professionals !

    • Ruling (19 February 2010): In favour of ATP SA. “The court order declares the notice published on the 10th November 2008, which stated that “it is not permissible to use unregistered persons to render psychological services including the administration of tests, instruments or techniques”, to be void and of no force and effect.

    • Current status: This ruling will stand until further notice. WATCH THIS SPACE!!!!

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    Legal Cases (continued)

    • Buthelezi v Amalgamated Beverage Industries[1999] JOL 5086 (LC)

    • Hendricks v SA Airways[2002] JOL 10382 (LC)

    • NUM obo Moeng / Douglas Colliery[2007] 7 BALR 647 (CCMA)

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    What will the long arm of the law do to you?

    • Fines: Employment Equity Act

    • Costs: CCMA, Labour Court,

      Constitutional Court

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    Closing statement

    • Assessments play an important role in the measuring of performance, selection, recruitment, etc. in the workplace, schools and various other institutions.

    • Assessment Practitioners should today more than ever be aware of the responsibilities that the legal use of these powerful instruments require.

    • Our history has not been without bumps, hurdles and mountains, but it is our responsibility to promote a fair and unbiased future and set an example for the rest of the world. The current limitations and challenges that we face can only be achieved through co-operation, adhering to legislation and high ethical standards.

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    • Employment Equity Act (1998) – different to all other countries, in that we are asked to proactively defend our position with regards to psychological assessment


    • (Responsibilities: Training, Accreditation, Test classification)

    • HPCSA -- might not be in a position to efficiently regulate access to and use of tests

    • Psychometric Committee of the board of Psychology – falls under HPCSA

    • International Test Commission (2001)

    • Society for Industrial and Organisational Psychology of South Africa

    • People Assessment in Industry

    • Human Sciences Research Council

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    • South African Board for People Practices

    • Association of test publishers

    • Test Developers/Publishers

    • Any others? What about universities?


    • Strategy of self-regulation (Paterson & Uys, 2005) – practitioners empowered to make informed decisions through access to information and adequate training

    • Training = better decision making with regards to selection of (registered) tests

    • Continuing professional development

    • Personal moral compass

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    • Conflicting policies (e.g. Employment Equity Act (1998) – assessments must not discriminate against groups, but can be used to assist with addressing previously disadvantaged groups)

    • Personal morals vs Ethical policies

    • Canadian Psychological Association – ethical principle ranking to assist decision making

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    Competency Based Assessment -

    One minute wonder

    Or Here to


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    Competency Based Assessment Development

    • What is competency-based testing?

      • Competencies

        • Knowledge, Skills, Abilities

      • Job Analysis

      • Effective in Application

      • Movement from intelligence


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    Defining Competency Based Assessment

    • A way to monitor and assess the competences a person has, no matter where or how these competences were gained.

    • Three major principles differentiating competence-based assessment from other methods used to assess are:

      • Assessment of evidence

      • Current abilities

      • Standards or competence

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    Benefits of Competency Based Assessment

    • An assessment of past behaviour can assist you in predicting future behaviour

    • Multiple assessment techniques are used to verify the results obtained

    • The competencies measured are related to successful job execution

    • Objectivity of evaluation is ensured through the utilisation of trained assessors

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    Recognition of Prior Learning

    “Recognition of prior learning is a process whereby, through assessment, credit is given to learning which has already been acquired in different ways”. – SAQA

    • Discuss practical example of the RPL process

      (real life case study)

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    Benefits of RPL

    RPL is seen to have the capacity:

    • to contribute to redress equity by opening up more ways for people to attain qualified status;

    • enable more people to reach higher levels of qualification and expertise by beginning with an acknowledgement of existing skills and knowledge;

    • contribute to enhancing international economic competitiveness by building on often invisible and unacknowledged workforce skills;

    • and offer the first step in attaining the goal of developing a multiskilled and flexible workforce by acting as an auditing tool to quantify existing competence.

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    Competency Based Assessment Series (CAS)

    • Designed by JvR professionals and associates

    • Purpose is to provide their clients with a range of uniquely South African assessment centre exercises

    • the exercises are designed to evaluate performance against certain job relevant competencies and can contribute to an informed selection decision.

    • The exercises can be categorised into four groups, namely:

      • In-basket Exercises

      • Group Exercises

      • Strategy and/or Presentation Exercises

      • Role Play Exercises

    • All the exercises are job relevant and assess current as well as future potential.

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    Examples of Competency Based Assessment

    Competency Assessment Series (CAS)

    The aims of the CAS exercises include:

    • To identify behavioural competencies needed for a specific job.

    • To assist the assessor in gaining a comprehensive understanding of the candidates’ behavioural competencies.

    • Provide additional, job-relevant, “tangible” information to supplement that gathered with traditional psychometric tools.

    • To determine the participants’ strengths and development areas.

    • To use the information in combination with collateral information for selection and development purposes in the workplace.

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    Examples of Competency Based Assessment

    • Case studies

    • In-basket exercises

    • Job sample tests/Skills Tests

    • Direct Observation

    • Oral/Written Tests

    • Portfolios

    • Simulation

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    Designing a Competency Based Battery

    • Step 1: Planning

      • Purpose

    • Step 2: Establish Competencies

      • Job Analysis

    • Step 3: Develop assessment battery

      • Structure

    • Step 4: Implement and evaluate battery

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    Uses of Competency Based Assessment

    • Within in the organisation

    • In the South African context

      • Advantages

      • Disadvantages

    • Fairness

      • Unbiased, ethical

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    Before we start

    • CAPA

    • CBA

    • CBT

    • CAT

    • CBTI

    • IDT

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    Taking a step back in History

    • International:

      • 1962

      • 1970’s

      • 1980’s

      • 1990’s

      • 2000’s

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    Taking a step back in History

    • South-Africa

      • 1970

      • Late 1970’s and early 1980’s

      • 1979

      • 1980’s

      • 1986

      • 1990

      • 1993-1994

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    Advantages and Disadvantages

    • Advantages:

      • More enjoyable

      • Ultimate levels of standardization

      • Biasing effect is eliminated

      • Reduction of time

      • More information about test-takers

      • Spatial and perceptual measured to greater extend

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    Advantages and Disadvantages

    • Advantages (continued)

      • Voice activated and touch screen responses are possible

      • Assessments can be individually tailored

      • Greater element of control

      • Number of assessment practitioners and assistants needed

      • Scoring by a computer

      • Increased test security

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    Advantages and Disadvantages

    • Disadvantages

      • Eish Eskom

      • Hardware / software compatibility & capability

      • Screen size

      • Machine availability

      • Socio-cultural and linguistic factors

      • System failure

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    Advantages and Disadvantages

    • Disadvantages (continued)

      • Copy right violation

      • Lack of security

      • Problems with confidentiality

      • Skilled clinical judgement is overlooked

      • Difficult to detect certain problems in software

      • High costs in item development

      • Costly

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    Advantages and Disadvantages

    • Disadvantages (continued)

      • Vital qualitative information not assessed

      • Human-computer interface issues

      • Lack of computer literacy

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    Computer-based Interpretation

    • Four approaches to CBTI are recognized:

      • Scoring reports

      • Descriptive reports

      • Actuarial reports

      • Computer-assisted clinical reports

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    • What is it

    • Purpose

    • Characteristics

    • Measurement Advantages

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    Dynamic Assessment

    • What is it?

    • Increased attention

    • What does it involve?

    • South Africa

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    Assessing Potential

    • Effective management tool

    • Time and cost effective

    • Usage

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    Assessing Potential

    • Why will we use it?

      • Present and potential

      • Opportunity to be measured fairly.

      • Is suitable at all levels

      • Scientifically proven valid and reliable

      • Learning takes place during the assessment

      • Is extremely time-saving

      • Uses computerised adaptive testing

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    Assessing Potential

    • Advantages:

      • Fair

      • Suitable for use at all levels of ability;

      • Valid and reliable indication of potential to cope with training;

      • Time saving;

      • Uses CAT which allows for all ability levels.

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    Item Response Theory

    • Definition

    • Higher an individual’s ability level, the greater the chance of getting an item correct.

    • Each item is referenced

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    Good practice and Ethical considerations

    • The International Test Commission (ITC)

      • Give due regard to technological

      • Attend to quality issues in CBT and internet testing;

      • Provide appropriate levels of control

      • Make appropriate provision for security

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    Good practice and Ethical considerations

    • Minimum professional and ethical standards:

      • Competence

      • Potential utility

      • Choose a technically (psychometrically) sound computer-based test

      • Equivalence of paper and computer-based version

      • Consider the human factors and issues of fairness

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    Good practice and Ethical considerations

    • Prepare test takers

    • Verify the identity of test-takers

    • Closely supervise the administration

    • Unsupervised psychological test

    • Contingency

    • Securely stored.

    • Computer scoring system

    • Interpretation of results

    • Debrief test-takers

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    The future – high definition video and virtual reality

    • Multimedia

    • A five-dimension framework

      • Innovations in item format

      • Innovations in response

      • Innovations in media inclusion

      • Innovations in the extent of interactivity

      • Innovations in scoring

      • Authenticity

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    Research building on existing knowledge

    • Enhancing consumer psychology

    • Reduced costs

    • System generated reports

    • Dynamic assessment of intelligence

    • Construction of new adaptive tests

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    The Future Role of the HPCSA

    • Need for an all encompassing body to:

      • Monitor test use

      • Advise practitioners

      • Research and review tests with information centrally available

      • To monitor and coordinate test development, adaptation, and updating (Foxcroft, 2004)

    • Control and regulation

    • Increased availability of information via internet

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    Artificial Intelligence

    • Virtual Reality – a new tool for psychological assessment (Fernandez-Ballesteros, 2009)

    • Computer assisted assessment

    • Ethical considerations

    • Control and access to electronic assessments

    • Closer examination of the tester-testee relationship

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    The Future of Assessments in South Africa

    • Locally developed tests appropriate for all cultures within SA

    • Leadership tests appropriate for SA context

    • Explore other intelligences – cosmic, spiritual, moral, emotional, transcendental contributions

    • Stimulating use of assessments by smaller organisations and NGOs

    • Industrial psychologists making significant contributions locally and internationally

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    The Future of Assessments in South Africa

    • Psychometric tests – most effective of predicting behaviour (Mittner, 1998)

    • Tests 4 X more effective than screening interviews (Van der Walt, 1998)

    • Employment Equity Act – definite move towards making assessment techniques more scientific (Eckstein, 1998)

    • To be used as additional aid in decision making i.e. not in isolation

    • Retain professional level for conducting psychometric assessment.

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    The Future of Assessments in South Africa

    • (Bartram & Coyne, 1998) in a recent world-wide survey found lack of psychologists involvement in testing and use of tests

      • Found 60% of test users were not specifically trained in use of psychological tests.

      • Therefore recommend training and increasing public understanding.

      • Gregoire, (1999), recommend academic education, continued education, and more publications on tests and assessment methods.

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    The Future of Assessments in South Africa

    • Cook (1997), trend towards assessment centres and competency based assessment in changing socio-political and economic context. [some psychological factors that competence measures cannot provide, i.e. learning and potential]

    • Consideration should be given to development of new tests with urgent special emphasis on culture-fairness.

    • Validation of tests in different organisations that they are used in. Cook (1997),

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    Conclusion: History

    • In the past the same tests were used for everyone.

    • Psychologists used international tests.

    • Testing was for a long time viewed as discriminatory and unjust.

    • Practitioners are becoming aware of the advantages of fair assessment.

    • The implementation of cross-culturally fair tests.

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    Conclusion: Legislation

    • Changes in legislation.

    • The EEA has been established in 1998 to ensure more equitable and fair Psychological testing.

    • Tests need to be scientifically valid and reliable;

    • tests should be able to be applied fairly to all employees; and

    • tests should not be biased against any employee or group.

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    Conclusion: Ethics

    • Psychological tests can act as a disabling factor.

    • Practitioners therefore have to be more cautious and informed and should take responsibility to ensure that a test can be fairly applied.

    • Practitioners should act in an ethical way before, during and after psychological tests.

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    Conclusion: Competency Based Assessment

    • Focus on the essential behaviours required to perform a specific job.

    • Focussing on individual differences in terms of work-related constructs relevant to job performance.

    • This contributes to keep tests fair and relevant as required by the law.

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    Conclusion: Computerised Assessment

    • In our modern society there is new technology on the market every day and everything is being computerised in one way or another as well as psychological testing.

    • There is a lot of advantages to computerized testing we just need to make sure that it remains unbiased, ethical, valid and reliable for our rainbow nation.

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    Conclusion: Challenges

    • According to research the most frequently cited hindrance to the administration of psychological tests is language.

    • When administering individual intelligence tests, psychologists often argue that it is justifiable to administer the measure in English, irrespective of whether English is the first or second language of the test-taker. Continue...

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    Conclusion: Challenges

    • It is important to determine whether the performance on the test reflects the testee’s actual ability and not the testee’s competence in the test language.

    • Translation of a test is not a quick-fix.

    • Changing some wording in an item/question can draw a question mark over the construct, score and predictive comparability. Continue...

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    Conclusion: Challenges

    • Other factors that need to be taken into account: cultural and environmental factors, age and gender.

    • Test anxiety has an effect on test resuls.

    • Anxiety can hamper a person’s test performance.

    • Employees may also start to view tests as unfair and invalid.

    • Explain everything in simple terms.

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    “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” Nelson Mandela

    “ The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people” Theodore Roosevelt.

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    Crossword Competition goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” Nelson Mandela