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Assessment Center for Psychology Major Evaluation

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James Madison Universitys Department of Psychologys mission is to educate


students in, and contribute to, the science of Psychology. The department attempts to
offer a wide range of innovative and student focused learning opportunities. Faculty
conduct research on a wide range of topics are very prideful in their invitation for
students to collaborate. Thus, students and faculty are contributors to international,
national and regional professional conferences; with much of their work published in
scientific journals, books and professional newsletters. Through their research, they
create new knowledge as well as provide students with opportunities to learn about
behavioral science by conducting this research (Department of Psychology, 2017).

By using the following Assessment Center, we will be able to appropriately


measure the learning outcomes of psychology students, as well as predicting important
outcomes for psychology majors (Waldman & Korbar, 2004).

Outcomes

Assessment Criteria
1. Knowledge Base of Psychology. Students will demonstrate familiarity with the
major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends
in psychology.
2. Research Methods in Psychology. Students will understand and apply basic
research methods in psychology, including research design, data analysis, and
interpretation.
3. Critical Thinking Skills in Psychology. Students will respect and use critical and
creative thinking, skeptical inquiry, and, when possible, the scientific approach to
solve problems related to behavior and mental processes.
4. Application of Psychology. Students will understand and apply psychological
principles to personal, social, and organizational issues.
5. Values in Psychology. Students will be able to weigh evidence, tolerate
ambiguity, act ethically, and reflect other values that are the underpinnings of
psychology as a discipline.
6. Information and Technological Literacy. Students will demonstrate information
competence and the ability to use computers and other technology for many
purposes.
7. Communication Skills. Students will be able to communicate effectively in a
variety of formats.
8. Sociocultural and International Awareness. Students will recognize, understand,
and respect the complexity. of sociocultural and international diversity.
9. Personal Development. Students will develop insight into their own and others
behavior and mental processes and apply effective strategies for self-
management and self-improvement.
10. Career Planning and Development. Students will emerge from the major with
realistic ideas about how to implement their psychological knowledge, skills, and
values in occupational pursuits in a variety of settings.
(Department of Psychology, 2017)

Predictors
1. Job Satisfaction. Students should experience job satisfaction beyond their
undergraduate career. Students will demonstrate fulfillment in their future career
that is displayed through intellectual challenges, emotional and mental fulfillment,
and motivation to succeed.
2. Well-being. In the students future, ideally he or she will experience mental,
emotional, and intellectual well-being. The individual will be able to adapt to
unpredicted scenarios and maintain a level of stability. Students will lead a
healthy life and ask for help when needed.
3. Emotional intelligence. Students will maintain stable emotions and have the
ability to regulate ones own emotions and ask for help when needed. Individuals
will be able to recognize when emotions are relevant to their profession and have
the capability to ensure these do not interfere with their role in the workplace.
4. Work Ethic. Individuals will maintain a professional and driven work ethic that will
support their future career. Students will initiate responsibilities without being
asked, and will work to make the environment around them more efficient and
productive.

KSAOs and Data Collection


KSAOs
1. Written Communication
a. Students will be able to communicate effectively in a variety of formats. In
addition, students will be able to demonstrate appropriate content,
organization, and style (Waldman & Korbar, 2004). This particular KSAO
serves as both as a criterion variable and a predictor variable.
Communication skills will be obtained from the psychology major as well
as a predictor to later job performance in life after graduation. According
to the latest 2017 update on the Department of Psychology webpage at
James Madison University, students will acquire a majority of their
communication skills throughout their college career, integrating
communication into each course. In particular, after taking their capstone
course, students will be able to demonstrate effective written
communication skills using APA style to prepare empirically based reports,
literature reviews, theoretical papers, and/or program evaluations
(Department of Psychology, 2017).
2. Presentation Skills
a. An important KSAO is presentation skills. Students will and should be
able to conduct presentations in such a manner as to generate interest
and enthusiasm, while being organized, structured and including
convincing and informative arguments (Waldman & Korbar, 2004).
Presentation skills serve as both criterion and predictor variables.
Through the psychology major students will acquire oral presentation skills
and oral communication skills from the psychology major as well as the
general education courses provided to JMU psychology students.
Additionally, presentation skills and oral communication will carry over and
become a predictor of later outcomes such as work engagement, as
presentations and oral communication skills are integrated into a majority
of career fields. Students will acquire these skills throughout their career
in the psychology major. In particular, according to the latest 2017 update
on the Department of Psychology webpage at James Madison University,
after taking their capstone course, students will be able to demonstrate
effective oral communication skills at the individual level using one or
more professional formats (e.g., individual paper/proposal presentation,
participate as a member of a symposium, etc.); participation in class
discussion alone is not sufficient enough to get them where they could
potentially be (Department of Psychology, 2017).
3. Ability to Perform and Understand Research
a. The ability to perform and understand research is an important aspect of a
psychology students education. Having the ability to look and research
and see if it is valid, or reliable, or many other things is something that can
make a great psychologist. During the students time in college they
should be taking courses that give them knowledge about research in
general, how it is conducted, what does good research look like, and they
will learn to analyze and evaluate all types of research literature. All
students should be able to look at any published study and understand its
aspects and whether or not it is good research. Having this ability can help
a psychology student later in their career or life, as many jobs will require
research to either be performed or analyzed. This can be both a predictor
and a criterion as if students are able to analyze research that should
benefit their later career or life.
4. Critical Thinking Skills
a. Students should be able to think critically in order to problem solve and
complete research while completing their education in the field of
psychology. Students should be able to think outside of the box and figure
out multiple ways to solve problems that dont always follow the
guidelines. By developing critical thinking skills throughout their college
career they will prepare themselves not only for later education but also
for the real world outside of school when they have to solve problems at
work.This would be a both a criterion of psychology students as well as a
predictor variable because if students are able to think critically it should
benefit them later in life.
5. Knowledge Base of Psychology
a. Students should have a knowledge base of psychology in that they
understand basic theories and concepts of the field. Students should
demonstrate education in the core historical concepts reiterated in each
psychology course and be able to identify major figures and contributors to
the field of psychology. The ability to build further knowledge is based
upon the original understanding of basic psychology. In order to succeed
in later practices, students should have this awareness and ability to retain
in depth information. This evaluation is primarily a criterion assessing
psychology major student outcomes, however the ability to retain
information can predict an individuals ability in the future to learn and use
new information.
6. Sociocultural and International Awareness
a. Having a good grasp of the different of sociocultural and international
aspects to psychology is something every student needs to know. Since
thoughts, cognitions, behavior, and many other things differs across
cultures and nations, it is important for any student to be able to recognize
and understand the impact of these differences. No matter what career or
field psychology students go into, they should be able to understand the
differences of cultures and countries and apply that to their lives or jobs.
Students who graduate should be able to understand the effects of these
differences as well as have a deep grasp of the impacts if not applied
properly. This acts as both a criterion and a predictor as having a good
sense of sociocultural and international awareness will be able to help
them later on in their careers and life.
7. Career Planning and Development
a. In order to take advantage of their undergraduate education, students will
need to apply their knowledge and skills to their future fields of practice.
Students should have acquired professional and adaptable qualities that
will properly prepare them for their career path. Students should have an
awareness on how to apply the psychology discipline to their career of
choice, and use these skills to determine the domain best suited for their
interests. Career planning and development is both a criterion and
predictor. These skills should measure student outcomes from the major
including course experience, professor-student interaction experience,
organization experience, etc. These abilities will also predict future
outcomes in order to see if students have applied their developed skills to
their future careers.
8. Work Ethic
a. Students should build a strong work ethic over the course of their school
years to prepare them for a successful future career. A strong work ethic
includes aspects such as integrity, sense of responsibility, emphasis on
quality, discipline, and sense of teamwork. A strong work ethic is vital to
the success of a group or company. Students should be able to have a set
of moral principles to use for the job and continuing career. Work ethic is
both a criterion and a predictor. A students work ethic should measure a
students outcome from the psychology major because their work ethic
would be directly affected in the kinds of jobs they are offered as well as
how quickly they are promoted within a company. Psychology major
students will develop a strong work ethic over their course of time within
the major through specific deadlines and a large course load that requires
diligence to get through.
9. Diversity
a. Students should be able to go into a variety of fields and specific work
environments after their time in the psychology major. Diversity increases
an employee's creativity, productivity, and loyalty towards their company
because they feel enriched in everything they do. If the future employee
has knowledge in many different subject areas and skills, they are more
desirable for the future workforce. The psychology major will help a
student achieve this by providing a variety of courses and opportunities
that foster an overall well-balanced knowledge of different topics and
skills. As well, a psychology graduate should appreciate the diversity of
those around them. They should appreciate and acknowledge the ways
everyone differs in knowledge and skills. Some attributes they should
appreciate around them are understanding things from a different
perspective and being more cohesive. As well, a diverse workforce
increases decision making as a whole. These differences foster a solid
well-being within a company or group. A psychology student would
develop this by interacting with the immense amount of students within the
major that all have different things they bring and offer to their own groups
and classes. Diversity is a criterion and predictor as performance in the
workforce for ability to adapt and perform well with differing viewpoints.
Psychology students gradually acquire these skills as they work
throughout the major by working collaboratively with others and
developing their own skills to cover a broad range of abilities.
10. Information and Technology Literacy
a. Students should be able to use a wide variety of technology in order to
both complete work as well present information to others. With the increase
in use of technology both in the workplace, school, and real world, being
able to use technology proficiently is becoming more and more important.
Students should also be able to adapt to new forms of technology and learn
as things gradually change. This particular KSAO would serve as both a
predictor and criterion variable for later performance in life as an inability to
properly use technology would likely have a negative impact in most
aspects of work and daily life. Psychology major students will gradually
develop these skills over the course of their collegiate career by creating
presentations, doing research and using online tools to analyze data and by
completing course work.

Data collection to measure attainment of KSAOs (each predictor task should


measure multiple)
1. Oral Presentation: The individual will prepare and conduct a presentation to a
group of peers. The peers will evaluate the students performance based upon
their ability to engage peers, their perceived knowledge of the content, and their
use of current technology. Students will be given a set of time to get this done
and will be monitored on how well they stuck to the plan and how they showed
work ethic.
KSAOs this will measure:
Presentation Skills
Information and Technology Literacy
Work Ethic
2. Comprehensive Exam: In order to assess the students knowledge of psychology,
they will be given a comprehensive exam consisting of multiple choice and essay
questions. The students will have to apply their knowledge of psychology to
applied questions in order to demonstrate critical thinking, and will also be
measured on their ability to retain basic theories and history of psychology.
KSAOs this will measure:
Knowledge Base of Psychology
Critical Thinking Skills
3. Mock Interview: Students will interview each other in order to demonstrate
professional skills, and the ability to evaluate and adjust to fictional scenarios.
These questions will consist of scenarios related to future careers, as well as
areas pertaining to diversity and international awareness. The students will
demonstrate their ability to adapt to unusual situations and reveal their
understanding of sociocultural awareness.
KSAOs this will measure:
Career Planning and Development
Diversity
Sociocultural and International Awareness
4. Analyze a Research Study: Students will be given a published study and be
asked to answer a number of questions about the study including validity,
reliability, methods, results and many other things. These questions will be used
to determine if a psychology student is able to correctly understand and analyze
research methods and statistics to determine if they are able to apply their
knowledge of this subject. They will also be asked to communicate their findings
and be able to articulate them through writing whether their audience is
knowledgeable about the subject or not.
KSAOs this will measure:
Ability to Perform and Understand Research
Written Communication

Criterion Measurement of Assessment Center Effectiveness

We will assess how well this works by implementing a cut-off score on each
section of the assessment. Since our students should be able to have a deep
understanding of the material, we believe that those with higher GPAs should be
scoring above the cut-off and show their knowledge of these subjects. The purpose of
this assessment is to make sure that the students graduating have a deep
understanding and knowledge of this information. These assessments are used to see if
what has been taught over the course of their college education has actually stuck with
them and they are able to apply their knowledge to many things in the field. We do not
want our students to simply just regurgitate what they have been told, but rather actually
understand what theyve learned. A criterion measure that we will use is GPA of
students. We will analyze the validity of our assessment by predicting subsequent
employability and career success. As well, feedback is extremely beneficial because it
encourages students to engage in activities or coursework that will strengthen skills that
they tend to struggle with. It is important for a school to develop a culture that stresses
collaborative efforts to integrate assessment center dimension into coursework and
curriculum development. Feedback is also important as a student approaches
graduation and they turn their attention towards certain job interviews and opportunities.
Feedback will steer these students towards certain career paths.

Decision-making strategy for successful students


In each section of the assessment, we have created a criterion cutoff score which
acts as a standard to separate successful and unsuccessful performance (Muchinsky &
Culbertson, 2016) on the assessment center. This criterion cutoff is based on the
current base rate of psychology major graduates. A student must make a certain score
in order to show their understanding of the subject and to be able to pass the
assessment. A pre and post assessment center measurement will be beneficial to see if
students were able to improve as a result of their coursework throughout their time in
school. Once the student is accepted into their major, they will take part in the
Assessment Center, and again right before they graduate.

Motivation
Work motivation is defined as a set of energetic forces that originates both within
an individual as well as beyond the individual, to indicate work related behavior and to
determine its form, direction, intensity and duration (Muchinsky & Culbertson, 2016). In
order to address how we can motivate students to do their best on the assessment
center we must consider the following.
There are three dimensions to motivation; direction, intensity, and duration (persistence)
(Muchinsky & Culbertson, 2016).
Direction. Direction refers to the choice of activities individuals make in
expending effort, in other words, individuals tend to choose diligence on only
some tasks. In this context, direction will refer to the choice of which predictor
task(s) students will choose to be diligent on. This will ultimately be up to the
student, but we can try to integrate assessment tasks into the curriculum so that
they are still prepared for all predictor tasks, and possibly choose more predictor
tasks to be diligent on.
Intensity. Intensity refers to how hard an individual works, chooses to
work, or how much effort we chose to expend - if truly motivated, an individual
will be willing to try hard at the task itself as well as trying to understand the task
at hand. In this context, intensity will refer to how much effort a student chooses
to expend/how hard they will try on a predictor task. In order to increase their
intensity dimension of motivation, the curriculum should engage the students in
assignments and projects that require effort no matter ability, but this is a tough
one to tackle considering ability influences motivation (high ability individuals
typically are less motivated, and low ability individuals are highly motivated).
Duration (persistence). Duration (persistence) refers to motivation over
time as opposed to a one time choice between courses of action (direction) or
high levels of one task (intensity). In this context, duration will refer to the
motivation the student will have throughout the assessment center. In order to
prepare students to stay motivated for longer periods of time, Psychology
courses should be demanding yet realistic when assigning tasks to students,
attempting to avoid burnout of students from consecutive highly demanding
projects, one after the other, with low warning or direction. Instead, students
should be given efficiency skills, so they can expend effort on more than one
demanding task. Deadlines for portions of projects in the major will help students
learn to work on tasks in an organized manner, breaking it up and taking on
smaller projects within the larger project, rather than being overwhelmed by one
large project.

There are five critical concepts of motivation we must consider; behavior, performance,
ability, situational factors and motivation itself (Muchinsky & Culbertson, 2016).
Behavior. Behavior is the action from which we infer motivation, in this
context, will the behavior remain consistent throughout the assessment center or
will the behavior fluctuate throughout the predictor tasks. By creating awareness
tasks and skills, students should remain aware of their behavior throughout the
predictor tasks, yet not too aware to the point of over-analyzation ultimately
hindering their typical behavior.
Performance. Performance entails evaluation of behavior, in this case
not only the performance of the student on the assessment center, but the
students perception of their own performance on the assessment center; with
feedback and understanding of outcomes throughout their experience in the
psychology major, students should feel confident on their awareness of their own
average performance, and increasing motivation.
Ability. Ability is a determinant of behavior (low ability typically breeds
high motivation and high ability breeds low motivation), for the assessment
center, we must create the desire to do well within the individual, which can be
done by inspiring students to find why the major is so important to them.
Situational factors. Situational factors are also a determinant of behavior
as environmental influences and opportunities facilitate or constrain behavior
and ultimately performance, by helping students remain flexible and encourage
adaptation, exposure to different tasks under different conditions can motivate
them to remain confident in their ability despite their surroundings.
Motivation. Finally - motivation is also a determinant of behavior. For
this particular assessment center, the three determinants critical to the
manifestation of behavior are; ability, situational factors and motivation.
For this particular assessment center, the three determinants critical to the
manifestation of behavior are: ability, situational factors and motivation. The capacity
and willingness to expend effort is the motivational or will do component of behavior.
In order to motivate students to do well on this assessment center, we will focus on their
ability to perform these predictor tasks, situational factors and the source of their own
motivation (Muchinsky & Culbertson, 2016).
Ability. Even though low ability individuals tend to have higher
motivation, we should not create low ability within the students. We should
create and strengthen each student's foundational abilities; strengthening their
ability to analyze concepts and situations and have broad knowledge and skills in
as many realms as possible in psychology, especially in their undergraduate
career, too much focus in one field and neglect of another could hinder the
student's ability to be diverse in what they can offer. This will ultimately create a
base knowledge of everything, but still create higher motivation for the
understanding of more specific details.
Situational Factors. Situational factors should be addressed by creating
numerous and differing situations in which students must perform different tasks,
allowing students to become flexible and accustomed to quick adaptation of
differing environments which will create a higher motivation in students to
perform well without the uncomfort of a new situation hindering their
performance.
Motivation. Finally, although extrinsic motivation is inevitable, students
should be encouraged to find the intrinsic motivational factors that are the source
of their interest for psychology, enhancing their motivation to do well because
they care about what they are doing, rather that the score at the end of what they
are doing.

Usage of Assessment Center Information

It would likely be important to share this information with a number of different


people including current students, prospective students, alumni and more. Assessment
centers are used in order to assess what has been done/learned in different ways that
cover more criteria than say just a single test or research project. This assessment
center would cover numerous aspects of what should be covered during an individuals
undergraduate career as a psychology major at JMU. As this would show what criteria
the student should have learned during their time in the program, first and foremost this
information should be used by the psychology department at JMU in order to assess the
overall education that the curriculum is providing students. This information would allow
the department head as well as professors in the department to see what criteria they
are hitting well and what criteria are being missed in order to change the curriculum and
give the students the best possible education that they can receive and best prepare
these students for life after college as a Psychology major graduate.

As for who should get this information, it would likely benefit the school and the
department to have the information (statistics about the center not including anything
personal) be public for whoever wanted to find it. If the information was available to
prospective students, they could see exactly the the type of education they would
receive at this university as well as what predictor criteria they might also receive and
how that could help them in future endeavours. By allowing alumni to see the
information, you might be able to draw in more financial support for the psychology
department (College of Health and Behavioral Sciences) as Alumni could directly see
what their money is going towards. Lastly, if the information is given to current students
or students who have just completed the center it would give them the opportunity to
see how much they have improved or what specific things they excel in and how they
could then benefit from this information.

References

Apple, K. J. (2016, January 8). Department of Psychology. Retrieved September 26,


2017, from http://www.psyc.jmu.edu/ug/welcome.html

Daniels, M. E. (2014). Measuring Great Jobs and Great Lives: The Gallup-Purdue
Index. Gallup, 48(1), 1-24. doi:10.1109/mc.2015.21

Department of Psychology. (2017). Retrieved October 16, 2017, from


http://www.psyc.jmu.edu/undergraduate/curriculumobjectives.html

Muchinsky, P. M., & Culbertson, S. S. (2016). Psychology applied to work: an


introduction to industrial and organizational psychology. Summerfield, NC:
Hypergraphic Press

Waldman, D. A., & Korbar, T. (2004). Student Assessment Center Performance in the
Prediction of Early Career Success. Academy of Management Learning and
Education, 3(2), 151-167.