Megatrends in Personnel Testing: A Practitioner’s Perspective
John W. Jones, Ph.D. Kelly D. Higgins, M.A. NCS Pearson Applied psychological testing programs, having long been utilized, impact the lives of millions of people every day (Lyman, 1998). Some major testing applications include placement in school or on the job, assessment of knowledge and achievement, professional certification andlicensure, selection and promotion of employees, determination of learning and development needs, career counseling and guidance, and basic and applied research. Different types of tests are used with each of these of applications. Types of tests include standardized achievement, work skills, performance, aptitude, simulations, attitude, interest inventories, and clinical personality. There are alsoa variety of modes for administering tests. A test taker may be required to respond to items in a standard paper-and-pencil format, perform a task, role-play or simulate a situation, or respond to items in a computer-based format (e.g., computer adaptive or web-based testing). The prevalence of applied psychological testing and the variety of testing purposes and formats call attention to theimportance of quality and efficient test development, administration, scoring, reporting, and interpretation. In addition, test developers and publishers must also build innovative assessments that rely on recent advances in psychometrics and technology. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is twofold. First, this paper briefly reviews current testing trends, as documented in the literature, thatseek to address the needs for high-quality, fair, and efficient tests. Second, as its primary purpose, this paper summarizes a number of important megatrends that are directing the personnel testing industry. These megatrends, presented from a practitioner’s perspective, often are not immediately reflected in the traditional scientific journals because of a lengthy publication lag-time. Futurist JohnNaisbitt (1982) has defined megatrend as a "broad outline" or "direction" that will come to shape and direct an industry. These broad outlines serve as gateways to conceptualization and development of new product platforms and service offerings. Examples of a few megatrends professed by Naisbitt in 1982 included the shift from an industrial society to an information society, the movement fromnational economies to world economies, and corporate model shifts from hierarchical structure to informal networking. Before proposing 10 megatrends in the personnel testing industry, the authors briefly review some relevant articles from the professional literature to provide both a context and a baseline for this paper. INDUSTRY SURVEY
Assessments significantly influence the lives and careersof a large number of individuals in organizations (Silzer & Jeanneret, 1998). For example, in a 2000 survey the American Management Association (AMA) found that 69 percent of surveyed organizations conduct job-specific skills testing for various purposes (e.g., selection, evaluation, career development, or training). This is very similar to the percentages of organizations who were testing forjob-specific skills in 1998 (65 percent) and 1999 (71 percent). Of the organizations that test for specific job skills, 60 percent test applicants and 40 percent test employees. The AMA survey also revealed that 43 percent of the responding organizations test applicants for basic literacy and math skills in selected positions. This is similar to the 1998 and 1999 percentages of 39 percent and 41percent, respectively. The survey indicated that manufacturers are more likely than service providers to employ basic skills tests. The AMA survey also found a decrease in the use of psychological measures (cognitive ability, interest inventories, managerial assessments, personality measures, and physical simulations) from 52.3 percent of the surveyed companies in 1998 to 33.4 percent of surveyed...
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