The evaluation of a frame–of–reference training programme for assessors of assessment centres
Assessment centres are one of the most effective selection processes. However, the biggest issue facing assessment centres is that of construct validity (Collins et al., 2003; Guion, 1998). A certain aspect that could affect the construct validity of assessment centres is assessor training; to improve the consistency of their judgments (Pell, Homer & Roberts, 2008). The assessors' levels of expertise play a significant role in the validity of the whole process (Jones & Born, 2008). It can therefore be said that the group of people that has the biggest impact on the whole assessment process, are the assessors (Schlebusch, 2008). When graduating, Industrial Psychology postgraduate students should be able to assist in any assessment setting in a variety of settings and organisations (HPCSA, 2010). By implementing Frame–of–Reference training as an intervention for assessors, the construct as well as criterion validity could be influenced significantly (Lievens & Conway, 2001 & Schleicher, Day, Mayes & Riggio, 2002). Although international studies exist on Frame–of–Reference and assessor training, currently no such research exists for the South African context. The general aim of this research was to determine the effect of a Frame–of–Reference training programme for assessors of an assessment centre. For this purpose a purposive sample of Industrial Psychology Honours students was used. They were randomly divided into a control group and an experimental group. Both groups received the same pre– and post–test, in the form of having to evaluate independent roleplayers based on predetermined criteria, by viewing approved recordings of typical assessment centre simulations. The Frame–of–Reference training programme was conducted over a three–day period. Practical sessions were also hosted for assessors to practice and receive feedback on their newly obtained skills. The experimental group received the training between the pre– and post–tests. The comparison group only received the training after the post–test was completed, this ensured fair research practices. A quantitative research design was thus implemented. Descriptive statistics, Cronbach alpha coefficients, Wilcoxon Signed Ranks and Mann–Whitney U–test were implemented to analyse the data. The descriptive statistics and paired t-tests confirmed that during the one–on–one and group discussion the ratings of the experimental group seemed to be statistically different and significant. However, the same result could not be reported for the presentation simulation. Overall, the frame–of–reference training had a positive impact on the assessor skills of the participants.