Graduate Course-Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Assignment Summary

Shani Carter, PhD

Professor, Nicholas School of Business

Wagner College

Course:  Organizational Behavior and Human Resources is an MBA graduate course focusing on applications of behavioral science and human resources concepts to organizational administration.

Student population:
Course enrollment averages 30 MBA graduate students.

Course learning goals/outcomes:

  1. In-depth knowledge of the psychometric aspects of human resource management.
  2. A detailed understanding of the human resource process and the compromises that may be required.
  3. Theories and principles relevant to measurement within organizational behavior.
  4. The relationship between measurement and organizational effectiveness.
  5. To gain comfort and facility in decision-making in the face of ambiguity.

Assignment learning goals/outcomes:

  1. Teach students to think critically and methodically about measurement tools.
  2. Be intentional about matching measurement tools with job task requirements and learn that there are well-defined methodologies they can use for this assessment of choice of measurement tools.
  3. Combining the disparate bodies of knowledge and informational resources provides students the expertise they will need to be effective managers.

Description of the assignment:

The students are required to study a single occupation of their choosing for the entire semester. For this project, students are required to use their knowledge of theories of selection, validity, reliability, laws, and psychometrics to design a selection process that will be used to hire new employees.

  1. Students are required to use Tests in Print to identify several tests they would use to measure a job-related knowledge, skill, or ability of their choosing.
  2. Students are required to read the reviews of the identified tests in the Mental Measurements Yearbook (MMY), choose two of those tests, and summarize the contents of the test reviews for those two tests noting purpose, population, publisher, publication date, price, abilities measured, administration type and time, reliability, validity, and impact on race and gender.
  3. Students are then asked to use their understanding of theories of selection, validity, reliability, and employment laws to choose which of the two tests they would use in a selection process. In this third step, the students must refer to information obtained from the MMY when addressing the following questions about impact on race and gender, reliability, validity, and when describing the utility (i.e., costs and benefits) of the tests.  Students are expected to choose the test that has the most effective combination of appropriate skill measurement, high validity, and low adverse impact by race and gender.

View/Download Assignment Description (PDF)

Prerequisite knowledge needed to complete the assignment:
To prepare students for the assignment, I address the following topics in the course:

  1. Ability: General cognitive ability/IQ, factors of cognitive ability (e.g., verbal, logical-mathematical, spatial), employee capability, and mental processing.
  2. Selection: Job specifications, sources of information about applicants, lawful and unlawful questions, utility of selection methods, and cutoff scores.
  3. Reliability: Inter-rater reliability, test-retest reliability, parallel forms reliability, and split-half reliability.
  4. Validity: Internal consistency (validity of the construct), content validity, criterion-related validity, correlation, and accuracy of selection (Type I error; Type II error).
  5. Employment Laws: Historical, gender-based, general demographics-related, age-related, disability-related, veteran-related, and executive presidential orders.

The following sources are helpful in supplementing my discussion of these topics:

Jaques, Elliott & Cason, Kathryn. (1994). Human Capability: A Study of Individual Potential and Its Application. Cason Hall & Co. Pub. U.S. EEOC (2020). Prohibited Employment Policies/Practices.

Grading of the assignment:

Students are given detailed feedback on the project via a rubric with comments. The final grade is based on student providing complete information about the two selected tests, describing how the two tests address the job and organizational culture, and a discussion of which test they would choose and how the selection process that uses the two tests address laws is also graded.    

View/Download Grading Rubric (PDF)

Student response and value of the assignment for students:

The students are accustomed to having everything available online and balk at having to visit the library to access print books, yet every semester, after they have completed the project, they thank me and note that it made them aware of a wealth of material. They note that having completed the project will make their jobs as managers so much easier now that they know they can locate, evaluate, and purchase measurement tools rather than create the tools from scratch.