Training in Personnel Selection Assessment: Survey of Graduate I/O Programs

Article excerpt

We analyzed data from 75 master's and doctoral programs in Industrial/Organizational (I/O) psychology to examine the emphasis on specific assessment techniques in graduate personnel courses in the United States and Canada. The findings indicated that most instructors do not focus on in-depth teaching of specific psychological tests within such courses. Indeed, the techniques that received the most emphasis were assessment centers and honesty tests, followed by an assortment of personality, aptitude, and vocational measures. The discussion centers on the implications for graduate training for I/O students.

Over the past 50 years, a number of surveys on professional training in psychodiagnostic testing have appeared in the literature (Piotrowski & Zalewski, 1993). However, researchers have not investigated the degree of training emphasis on specific testing measures and techniques in the area of personnel selection. A comprehensive review of the literature identified only one study that reported on the implications for assessment training in the I/O area (Piotrowski & Keller, 1992).

Information on this topic would be beneficial given recent attempts by professionals in I/O psychology to identify critical issues for work roles and training needs of graduate students in the area. These issues include a discussion of the relevance of licensure, the identification of competencies needed by I/O graduates, and the establishment of standards for graduate I/O training (e.g., Dale, 1988; Lowe, 1990, 1993; ODEER, 1991; Shippmann, Hawthorne, & Schmitt, 1992).

Finally, training in assessment skills has been recognized as a critical component of graduate courses in personnel selection and industrial psychology (Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 1994). Interestingly, recent graduates of an I/O program rated assessment training as a highly valued instructional component (Erffmeyer & Mendel, 1990). But, data are still lacking as to the level and extent of training with assessment techniques in graduate-level I/O programs. Therefore, the purpose of the present study was to determine the relative emphasis given to specific tests/instruments covered in personnel selection courses in the United States and Canada.

Method

We surveyed I/O programs (MA & PhD) from schools contained in the Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology (1995) listing of graduate training programs. The two-page form asked respondents to rate their degree of coverage of 36 specific published tests, as well as three broad assessment techniques (i.e., assessment center exercises, honesty tests, leadership scales). The meaning of "extent of coverage" was left to the interpretation of the instructor to possibly include instruction such as test administration procedures, psychometrics, scoring, interpretation, and/or hands-on experience. The ratings (using a checklist) were indicated on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (none) to 5 (extensive). The selection of the tests/techniques were based on coverage in major personnel selection and psychological assessment texts, and coverage in personality assessment books (e.g., Lanyon & Goldstein, 1997; Miller, 1976). Multiple surveys were mailed to each program in the event that personnel selection courses are taught by two or more instructors within the department. The number of surveys mailed was based on the size of the I/O faculty in each program, with larger programs receiving more copies than smaller ones. Consequently, an average of three surveys were mailed to a total of 100 graduate I/O programs during the summer of 1997. A small follow-up mailing to non-responding schools was conducted in early fall of the same year. Only those teachers who taught graduate-level courses in personnel selection or industrial psychology were asked to participate.

A total of 85 completed surveys (88% of which were usable) were returned, with 50 of these from separate programs. …