Shrock and Coscarelli

Testing Human Competence

CRTD Introduction

Why read this book?
Corporate training, driven by competition and the sense of a “bottom line,” has a certain intensity about it. Errors in instructional design or the failure to master content can cause significant negative consequences. It’s not surprising, then, that corporate trainers are strong proponents of the systematic design of criterion-referenced instructional systems. What is surprising is the general lack of support of a parallel process for the assessment of instructional outcomes–in other words, testing.

Most training professionals have taken at least one intensive course in the design of instruction, but most have never had similar training in the development of criterion-referenced tests–tests which compare people against a common standard, instead of against other people (norm-referenced tests).

It’s not uncommon for a 40-hour workshop in the systematic design of instruction to devote less than four hours to the topic of test development–focusing primarily on item writing skills. With such minimal training, how can we make and defend our assessment decisions? For example, how can you show that those graduates you certify as “masters” are indeed masters and can be trusted to perform competently while installing an expensive switching device? What would you tell an EEO officer who presented you with a grievance from an employee who was denied a salary increase based on a test you developed?

Without an understanding of the basic principles of test design, you can face difficult ethical, economic, or legal problems. For these and other reasons, test development should stand on an equal footing with instructional development–for if it doesn’t, how will you know whether you got where you were going?

How will this book help?
Criterion-Referenced Test Development is a detailed and comprehensive reference guide to the theory and practice of organizational tests.  Designed specifically for training professionals who need to better understand how to develop criterion-referenced tests, this book offers step-by-step guidance for dealing with crucial decisions such as how to make and defend assessment decisions.