Assessment Approaches and Methodologies

Chapter 33: Psychological Assessment and workplace transformation in South Africa: A review of the research literature

AUTHORS: F. Donald, K. Milner, A. Thatcher

ABSTRACT: Psychological assessment in South African organisations has been a highly contested domain. During the 1990’s there was a backlash against the use of psychological assessment techniques, in particular psychometric testing, within organisations as the fairness, and particularly cross cultural fairness of psychological assessment methods came under increasing scrutiny. This chapter will assess how far we have come in addressing the concerns and controversies surrounding the use of psychological assessment methods in the South African workplace. The chapter will use the construct of organisational justice as a framework for organising and evaluating both research and practice in the field of psychological assessment in the workplace. It will cover the key traditional topics associated with assessment in South African organisations, such as legal requirements, fairness, reliability and validity but will attempt to take these issues to the next level by explicating the role of psychological assessment in an organisation’s Human Resources strategy.    Such an approach will enable a clear sighted appraisal of the ways in which psychological assessment can contribute to, or detract from, an institution’s ability to meet individual, group and organisational goals within the context of organisational transformation in South Africa.

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Chapter 32: Qualitative approaches to career counselling

AUTHORS: M. Watson, M. McMahon

ABSTRACT: Sometimes viewed as a newcomer in the field of career psychology, qualitative career assessment has a long history that has been overshadowed by the dominant story of quantitative career assessment. This proposed book chapter explores the potential of qualitative career assessment to accommodate less tangible and therefore less measurable variables that may influence individual career development. Specifically, a qualitative approach to career assessment may be sensitive to variables such as culture, socio-economic background, barriers to career development and other contextual influences that have been less focused on in quantitative career assessment. The book chapter also considers the issue of complementarity between qualitative and quantitative career assessment from various international perspectives. This proposed chapter describes the development of a qualitative career assessment measure, My System of Career Influences (MSCI; McMahon, Patton & Watson, 2005a, b), which has been developed for use with adolescents in South Africa and Australia. The MSCI was developed according to guidelines suggested for qualitative career assessment by McMahon, Patton and Watson (2003). Subsequently, the MSCI has been translated for use with adolescents in The Netherlands, Iceland and Hong Kong. The chapter also describes the development of an adult version of the MSCI (McMahon, Watson & Patton, submitted a, b) which was trialled in Australia, England and South Africa. The chapter concludes with an overview of recent research using the MSCI on diverse South African population groups of adolescents and adults.

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Chapter 31: The IAC approach to assessment: A family consultation model of child assessment

AUTHOR: Z. Amod

ABSTRACT: Innovative assessment procedures which take into account contextual factors such as language, culture, education, socio-economic status and recent educational policy developments are needed in South Africa.  In the democratic South Africa, both Education White Paper 6 (2001) and Curriculum 2005 call for assessment practices that are less expert-driven, non-deficit focused and linked to curriculum support.  The Initial Assessment Consultation (IAC) approach, which is the focus of this chapter, encompasses and addresses such aims.  This shared problem-solving approach to child assessment has at its core a focus on collaboration with parents and caregivers as well as significant others such as teachers, with the purpose of facilitating learning and the empowerment of clients.  The approach is based on a sound philosophical and theoretical foundation and is a radical departure from the belief that assessment and intervention are discrete clinical procedures.  The IAC approach to child assessment, which represents a paradigm shift in assessment practice, was initially developed by Adelman and Taylor (1979) at the Fernald Institute at the University of California to address prevailing criticisms of conventional assessment procedures.  Over the last two decades the IAC family participation and consultation model of assessment has been adapted and implemented at the University of the Witwatersrand.  Research has supported the usefulness of this holistic and egalitarian form of assessment which mirrors the more democratic environment of post-apartheid South Africa with its strong endorsement of human rights, sensitive cross-cultural differences and its changing educational policies on assessment practice (Amod, 2003; Amod, Skuy, Sonderup and Fridjhon, 2000; Dangor, 1983; Manala, 2001; Skuy, Westaway and Hickson, 1989; Sonderup, 1998).  The post-modernistic IAC model of assessment which emphasizes interpersonal, intrapersonal and environmental transactional factors in assessment has also been perceived positively by post-graduate students who have been trained in this approach at the University of the Witwatersrand (Dangor, 1983; Warburton, 2008).

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Chapter 30: The ImPACT Neurocognitive Screening Test

AUTHORS: A. Edwards, V. Whitefield, S. Radloff

ABSTRACT: The recent development of computerized neurocognitive screening programmes has revolutionized medical management in the sports concussion arena where there is a need for mass testing of athletes, and repeat follow up testing of the concussed athlete to monitor recovery and facilitate safe return-to-play decisions.  Automated programmes of this type have the facility for more accurate evaluation on timed tasks than paper-and-pencil testing, are time and cost effective in that group testing can be undertaken, and multiple randomized versions of the tasks reduce the problem of practice effects on repeated test occasions.  In South Africa, the ImPACT test (Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) that was developed within a research context at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, has been employed for clinical and research purposes since 2003, and is the only test of its type registered with the Health Professional Council of South Africa (HPCSA) for clinical use in this country.  This chapter reviews research data derived using the ImPACT test in respect of players of contact sport from school through to the professional level that attests to the clinical sensitivity of this test in the identification of subtle neurocognitive deficit in association with participation in the contact sport of rugby.  In addition, available South African normative indications in respect of the test are presented and discussed.  Finally, the potential to use the ImPACT test to facilitate medical management and increase safety within other contexts is discussed, such as screening of aviation personnel (pilots and ground control employees) on a regular basis to identify the onset of intellectual dysfunction that might have sinister consequences.

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Chapter 29: Using computerised and Internet-based testing in South Africa

AUTHOR: N. Tredoux

ABSTRACT: South Africa was an early adopter of computerised tests, with the earliest testing systems being developed in the late 1970’s. Initially computerised testing systems were developed by state-funded organisations, with some funding from the private sector. As a result of political changes in South Africa, financial support for research and development in Psychometrics in statutory organisations decreased. Psychometrics, and specifically computerised testing, was then advanced by various private commercial interests, with increasing involvement from foreign test publishers. With the development of the World Wide Web and the availability of broadband connectivity, delivery of tests and reports across the Internet became a reality.  Publishers were concerned about piracy of content and cheating by respondents who were doing the tests unsupervised.  The International Test Commission drew up guidelines for computer-based and internet-delivered testing, and these were adapted to the existing South African legislative framework and ethical guidelines for psychologist. A legal battle ensued, resulting in the repeated withdrawal and re-adopting of the South African guidelines. The main point of contention was whether or not unsupervised Internet-based testing should be allowed.  This legal battle eventually led to changes in legislation.  This chapter will discuss the regulatory framework as it currently stands.  The risks attached to different types of computerised implentations of tests will be considered, taking into account the rights of the respondent, the psychometric impact of computerisation, and the exposure for the practitioner to charges of possible misconduct. A proposal for best practice in South Africa will be formulated.

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Chapter 28: Ethical Perspectives in Assessment

AUTHOR: N. Coetzee

ABSTRACT: Psychological assessment practices in South Africa are informed by several governing bodies. Firstly, there are the codes of conduct proposed by the International Test Commission and the American Psychological Association (APA). Secondly, practitioners must adhere to statutory control in the form of the Health Professions Act 56 of 1974. Thirdly, practitioners working in organizational and institutional contexts soon discover that they must also deal with two other forms of important legislation, namely the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (1997) and the Employment Equity Act (1998). Add to this the fact that South Africa is in dire need of appropriate measures of assessment, and it soon becomes clear that practicing psychological assessment could approximate a walk through a mine-field. The aim of this chapter, however, is not to add to the sense of confusion South African practitioners currently experience, but to provide them with detailed step-by-step guidelines on how to interpret and integrate the ethical codes proposed by the International Test Commission, the APA and the Health Professions Act 56 of 1974. Discussions and guidelines on how to interpret the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (1997) and the Employment Equity Act (1998) when conducting psychological assessment within the organizational context will also be provided. Research findings of relevant South African studies on psychological assessment will be incorporated throughout the text to illustrate that, despite all the hindrances experienced by practitioners, the ethical use of psychological assessment is possible.

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