Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

The Evaluation of a Frame-of-Reference Training Programme for Intern Psychometrists

Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

The Evaluation of a Frame-of-Reference Training Programme for Intern Psychometrists

Article excerpt


The popular use of Assessment Centres (ACs) has over the years drastically increased at international level in various applied industries (International Task Force on Assessment Centre Guidelines, 2010; Krause & Gebert, 2003). It is widely accepted that ACs are mostly used in the field of personnel psychology for processes such as recruitment, selection and identification of managerial potential and talent (Dilchert & Ones, 2009; Lievens & Thornton, 2005). Lievens and Thornton (2005) emphasise the efficacy and importance of the implementation of ACs in personnel selection and promotion. Although for a long time ACs were solely used at international level, this technique began to be established in South Africa as a popular assessment technique in 1974 (Meiring, 2008). Major companies incorporated ACs as a means of assessment, which led to a need for practitioners to exchange ideas in a constructive manner, and hence the founding of the Assessment Centre Study Group (ACSG) (Meiring, 2008). Since 1970 the main aim of the ACSG has been to hold annual conferences to promote new research, insights and the teaching of ACs in a constructive and effective manner.

Thornton and Rupp (2006) explain that an AC can be seen as a combination of work-like exercises as well as other assessment type procedures specifically designed to activate certain behaviour in candidates in order for those behaviours and skills to be evaluated and observed. Schlebusch (2008) claims that the main aim and purpose of an AC is to select the most appropriate participant to be appointed in a position or programme and also states that one of the criteria for an AC is that participants should be informed that results will influence the decision of appointment. Some specific features that should also be present in an AC are: a job analysis should be carried out; multiple simulations and assessment instruments should be utilised; multiple and competent observers and role-players should be present; behavioural and not psychological constructs should be observed; behaviour should be noted and classified; data integration should take place and efficient feedback should be provided to participants (Schlebusch, 2008).

Although an AC is one of the more costly techniques used for assessment, ACs have good predictive validity (Eurich, Krause, Cigularov & Thornton, 2009; Thornton, Murphy, Everest & Hoffman, 2000) and criterion-related validity (Arthur, Day, McNelly & Edens, 2003). ACs also show evidence of good inter-rater reliability, although this also depends on the expertise level of the assessors (Lievens, 2002). Moreover, Joiner (2004) states that in the American private sector ACs reach a 300% return on investment (ROI) at some point.

Thornton and Mueller-Hanson (2004) state that although ACs consistently demonstrate criterion validity, the construct validity is still lacking in many instances. Collins, Schmidt, Sanchez-Ku, Thomas, McDaniel and Le (2003) mention in their study that evidence against construct validity, such as constant low construct validity in certain dimensions, has in fact been reported. The issue of construct validity can be seen as one of the biggest challenges that ACs face (Guion, 1998). In his study Lievens (2009, p.104) also mentions the significant issue of construct validity; he feels that ACs have to overcome the 'lack of evidence to measure the constructs (dimensions) they are reported to measure'. It can thus safely be said that the biggest unresolved problem that still remains in the practice of ACs is that of construct validity.

The consistency of assessor judgments is one specific aspect of ACs that influences or contributes to construct validity (Pell, Homer & Roberts, 2008). The main task of an assessor in an AC is to observe a candidate's behaviour and assign a rate, which then determines whether the candidate is appointed in a specific post (Goodstone & Lopez, 2001). …

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