Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

The Viability of Readiness Assessment in Contributing to Improved Career Services: Response to Jepsen (2000)

Academic journal article Career Development Quarterly

The Viability of Readiness Assessment in Contributing to Improved Career Services: Response to Jepsen (2000)

Article excerpt

This article responds to D. A. Jepsen's (2000) commentary on Sampson et al.'s theory-based approach to using readiness assessment to improve career services (J. P. Sampson, G. W. Peterson, R C. Reardon, & J. G. Lenz, 2000). Three topics are included in this response: the reliability, validity, and utility of readiness assessment measures; verbal ability and the use of cognitive information-processing theory in practice; and the potential contribution of reflective evaluation in career decision making. This article concludes with recommended research questions to examine the impact of readiness assessment on the effectiveness of career service delivery.

We are grateful for this opportunity to respond to David Jepsen's (2000) commentary on our readiness assessment article. The Jepsen commentary provides a stimulus for us to further clarify issues related to readiness assessment and cognitive information-processing (CIP) theory. Our response begins with a discussion of the validity and utility of readiness assessment measures in general, the potential limitations in using CIP theory with individuals having limited verbal ability, and the potential contribution of reflective evaluation in career decision making. We conclude with suggested research questions that examine the impact of readiness assessment on the effectiveness of career service delivery.

Reliability, Validity, and Utility of Readiness Assessment Measures

Jepsen (2000) raises the issue of variability in the reliability, validity, and utility of existing objective career decision-making readiness measures and suggests that a subjective assessment system might be equally valid and practical. "The practitioner or receptionist could simply explain the major forms of assistance available to clients (either orally, in writing, or on the computer) and ask them to select the one they think is most appropriate for their learning today" (p. 176). We certainly believe that multiple forms of readiness assessment should be explored. Three options appear promising: (a) objective decision-making readiness measures such as the Career Thoughts Inventory (CTI; Sampson, Peterson, Lenz, Reardon, & Saunders, 1996a), (b) self-assessments of readiness with appropriate recommendations for level of service delivery and suggestions for potentially useful career resources and services, and (c) subjective assessments of readiness using brief or more comprehensive interviews as Jepsen suggests.

The first priority should be for practitioners to use some type of readiness assessment before intervening with a client to maximize the likelihood of meeting the client's needs in a cost-effective manner. The second priority should be for practitioners to select a readiness assessment methodology that is appropriate for the client being served and the organization providing the service (refer to our five-step model for using readiness assessment in practice in Sampson, Peterson, Reardon, & Lenz, 2000). The fact that we currently have more experience with objective measures and we have more validity evidence for this methodology should not discourage practitioners and researchers from experimenting with self-assessment and subjective assessments. The reliability, validity, and utility of self-assessment and subjective evaluations of client readiness need to be established for practitioners to make informed decisions about readiness assessment options.

Another way of examining the relative merits of objective and subjective assessment is to examine the similarities between interest assessment and career decision-making readiness assessment. Like readiness assessment measures, interest assessments show considerable variation in reliability and validity, yet interest measures are widely used in practice. The practitioner's task is to select an interest or readiness assessment measure that is reliable and valid for the population being served and is congruent with the funding, staffing, and client demand in the organization that delivers the services. …

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