Handbook of Communication and Social Interaction Skills

By John O. Greene; Brant R. Burleson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
METHODS OF INTERPERSONAL SKILL
ASSESSMENT
Brian H. Spitzberg
San Diego State University

THE KEN OF INTERPERSONAL SKILLS ASSESSMENT

Few characteristics are more important to the everyday quality of life as the skill with which interpersonal communication is negotiated, Yet few concepts are as difficult to define and assess as interpersonal skill. This chapter examines issues associated with the assessment of social interaction and communication skills. It proceeds by first considering the importance of such skills. It continues by making several key distinctions in terminology and concepts relevant to a review of assessments. Next, a synoptic overview of historical eras is provided, which is intended to situate current debates about assessment concerns. These current debates are presaged in a discussion of several ideological tensions often overlooked in the examination of skills assessment. This discussion gives way to a characterization of several trends in assessment that have emerged since the last major reviews were written before the 1990s (e.g., Bellack, 1979, 1983; Curran, 1979a, 1979b; Curran, Farrell, & Grunberger, 1984; Curran & Mariotto, 1980; Kolko & Milan, 1985b; McFall, 1982; Spitzberg, 1988, 1989; Spitzberg & Cupach, 1989) in light of those in the interim (e.g., Hargie, 1997; Inderbitzen, 1994; Matson, Sevin, & Box, 1995; Rubin, 1994; Spitzberg, 1994b; Trower, 1995). Then the chapter explicates a conceptual heuristic, the adapted Behavioral Assessment Grid (BAG, Cone, 1978; Spitzberg, 1988; Spitzberg & Cupach, 1989) for analyzing assessment methods. With this conceptual vocabulary established, a number of omnibus measures and methods are briefly reviewed (leaving the more specific contextual and skill-specific assessments to the appropriate later chapters of this text). The chapter concludes with a consideration of key decision points any scholar or practitioner should consider in developing an assessment and some of the implications of these decisions.

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