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The Basics of Psychometrics by Jani de Beer

The Basics of Psychometrics

Author: Jani de Beer

JvR Africa

(Re-printed with permission)

 

Psychometrics is an interesting and rewarding field of study, which offers psychometrists and psychologists a valuable offering to clients, especially in the performance driven world of business, where the ‘bottom line’ is king.

When dealing with managers and CEO’s we are often required to “sell” our skills and motivate their investment in us. Going over the basics of what a psychological assessment is and how it can benefit their business is a good kickoff to doing just that.

In this week’s post we give a summary of the basics that we we’re so fond of in varsity, to review not so much for our own enrichment; but for those times when we need to motivate someone not familiar with the field, to buy in.

The Basics of Psychometrics…

Some important definitions:

Psychological Assessments: The gathering and integration of data in order to make a psychological evaluation, decision, or recommendation.

Psychometrics: The psychological theory and technique (e.g. the science and process) of mental measurement; the branch of psychology dealing with measureable factors.

Simulation: An experimental method used to investigate the behaviour and psychological processes and functioning of individuals in social and other environments, often those to which investigators cannot easily gain access, by simulating those environments in a realistic way.

Assessment Instrument: An instrument for the evaluation of ability, achievement, interests, personality, psychopathology, or the like.

Test: Any procedure or method to examine or determine the presence of some factor or phenomenon

(APA Dictionary of Psychology, 2007)

Characteristics of a good Psychological assessment:

  • Includes a representative sample of behaviour
  • Samples collected under standardised conditions
  • Outlines specific rules intended for scoring
  • Can be administered to individuals, groups and organisations
  • Measures specific domains of functioning (intellectual ability, personality e.g.)
  • Guidelines available to understand and interpret the results of the assessment
  • Supported by evidence that it is valid and reliable for the intended purpose

(Foxcroft & Roodt, 2005)

Differences amongst assessments

  • Behaviour required of the test taker
  • Attribute/ Trait/Behaviour measured
  • Content, format and administration differs
  • Scoring and interpretation
  • Psychometric qualities

Some examples of Assessment measures:

  • Personality Questionnaires
  • Emotional Intelligence Questionnaires
  • Cognitive Ability Tests
  • Ability tests
  • Interest inventories
  • Work Samples

Some examples of Simulation Exercises:

  • Role Play Exercises
  • Presentations
  • Group Exercises
  • In-Baskets

Assessments may be used on an Individual/ Group/ Organisational or Societal level for diagnosis, selection or development depending on the need.

Assessments are used to determine/facilitate/assess: selection, development possibilities, self awareness, organisational/group culture, organisational/ group climate, team dynamics, team conflict, team efficiency, career coaching, leadership styles, and many more.

The Advantages of using Assessments:

  • Fairness – when assessments are proven to be reliable valid and not biased against any group
  • Objectivity – not influenced by subjective opinions of people
  • Standardised – ensures the equality of the assessment process
  • Cost savings – appropriate decisions lowers employee turnover and cuts training and development costs.
  • Better decisions, faster – Assessment offer deeper insights into individuals / groups in a relatively short time frame; facilitating informed decisions

 

The Disadvantages of using assessments:

  • Assessments may be very expensive, especially when it is an imported product
  • The duration of the assessment process might be seen as time consuming, in regards to the administration, scoring, interpreting and reporting on the results
  • The accuracy, reliability and validity of the assessment depends on the accurate scoring process and correct interpretation of the results
  • Assessments that are used may not be appropriate or relevant to the work environment of the candidate
  • External factors such as fear / anxiety may affect the candidate’s results thus not portraying an inaccurate  picture of the candidate

Important considerations to keep in mind:

  • Ensure you are trained (if necessary), competent and registered with the HPCSA  (if operating in South  Africa) when handling any assessment
  • Always be mindful of the purpose for the assessment
  • Be familiar with the assessment material, including its scientific evidence for being valid, reliable and fair
  • Always consult different sources of information, never only use one assessment, or measure one construct
  • Never make decisions based exclusively on assessment results.
  • Never underestimate the impact of external factors (sleep, noise, anxiety) on the candidates’ results
  • Always have the candidate’s best interest in mind
  • One should be familiar and follow ‘Best Practice’ requirements on assessments at ALL TIMES
  • Cover yourself legally, by having the client sign a consent form…Include in this form the purpose for which you intend to use the results (Include where possible, consent for research purposes)

 

Gary Watkins

Gary Watkins

Managing Director

BA LLB

C: +27 (0)82 416 7712

T: +27 (0)10 035 4185 (Office)

F: +27 (0)86 689 7862

Website: www.workinfo.com
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