International Journal of Selection and Assessment

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Volume 8 Issue 1 (March 2000), Pages 1-39

How Useful are Work Samples in Validational Studies? (pages 29-33)

Some job tasks do not lend themselves to formal on‐the‐job assessment because they do not occur with sufficient regularity to permit the standardized measurement required in validational research. The preparation of incident reports by police and security officers is such a job task. The production of accurate, literate incident reports is important because these reports are often required in legal proceedings. Their standardized evaluation on the job is not practical because incidents occur at unpredictable intervals with highly variable content. Given the limitations of on‐the‐job performance criteria, we developed a standardized work sample by preparing sets of non‐verbal drawings depicting incidents, each of which required a written descriptive report by security officers. A total of 187 security officers completed a cognitive and personality test battery and criterion incident reports based on the standardized materials. Reports supported the usefulness of the standardized work sample, as well as the validity of the test battery – 100% of participants in the upper quartile of the test score distribution produced satisfactory reports, while only 17% of those in the lowest quartile produced satisfactory incident reports. A number of advantages of structured work samples as criterion measures are noted, including their greater standardization, the elimination of range restriction problems by administering them to all job candidates, the opportunity to obtain expert evaluations of work samples at remote sites, and their face and content validity resulting in acceptability to job candidates and to decision makers.

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