Lately we’ve seen an increase in customers asking our advice on whether they should make the jump from pencil/paper-based assessments to online administration. While there is no right or wrong answer, there are definite pros and cons for each; it all comes down to what will work best for you and your clients. I’ll share some insights I have learned from working in this industry for over ten years.
These are the ones that have been around for years that come in all shapes and sizes, including: fill-in-the-bubble sheets (i.e. JVIS or CDI), put a response in a box on carbon paper sheets (i.e. COPSystem, Dealing with Conflict Instrument), circle an answer on a worksheet (i.e. BESI – Barriers to Employment Success Inventory), or a combination of these (i.e. Personality Dimensions®). This method has been around for so long because there is no complex technology needed to administer this type of assessment; all you need is a pencil and a hard surface. Paper-based assessments are effective because: not everyone has ready access to a computer with an internet connection; the process is supervised which helps gain more accurate results; and research has shown that certain younger demographics take this format more seriously.
Sadly, nothing is perfect so there are some disadvantages to paper-based assessments, and those mostly have to do with time. Fill-in-the-bubble sheets need to be mailed to us for scoring, and we all know how reliable the post office can be at times. Also, if the answer sheet gets creased, has writing in the wrong area, or gets answered in pen, the scanner will not read it properly and it makes the person doing the scoring really grumpy for the rest of the day. Other assessments are self-scoring, but require extra time and attention in a workshop setting from practitioners to make sure that they are completed properly.
By far, this is the fastest growing segment of Career Development assessments. Many of the internet-based assessments we represent started life as paper-based, and were moved online based on customer feedback. The JVIS, COPSystem, and Personality Dimensions® are all available online. These assessments use the same questions/items for either version to ensure consistency. Administering assessments to your clients online can be done before a workshop/meeting so you can spend more time on other areas. You also have the advantage of knowing a few things about your client(s) allowing you to prepare for different scenarios. You also don’t have to worry about needing an inventory of assessments on hand; with the assessments represented by CLSR, you only pay for assessments when you want to view/download the results.
While Internet-based assessments are the trend in the Career Development industry, they still do have their downsides. As I mentioned earlier, not everyone has access to a computer and internet connection, so arranging to have clients in this situation take an assessment ahead of time can present a challenge. You also need to consider the tech-savvyness of your clients. When we were developing our latest assessment platform, I had to keep asking the question “can my mother understand this.” While we did aim at having the answer be “yes”, there is still a wide range of skill/ability when it comes to internet platforms. We have also found that certain age demographics have the tendency to quickly click through the assessment without carefully reading the questions/statements when unsupervised.
How about you? Have you made the leap from administering paper-based assessments to online? How has it worked out? Do you have a favourite method for certain client groups? Let us know by commenting below.
As always, we are just a phone call or an email away. We are happy to have a chat about your assessment and other Career Development Resource needs, and make some recommendations that will benefit you and your clients.
Brad Whitehorn, BA is the Sales & Marketing Coordinator at Career/LifeSkills Resources Inc. He was thrown in to the career development field headfirst after completing a Communications degree in 2005, and hasn’t looked back! Since then, Brad has worked on the development, implementation and certification for various career and personality assessments (including Personality Dimensions®), making sure that Career Development Practitioners get the right tools to best serve their clients.