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A review of instruments for assessing complex vocational competence

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Greatorex, Jackie 
Johnson, Martin 
Coleman, Victoria 


The aim of the research was to explore the measurement qualities of checklists and Global Rating Scales [GRS] in the context of assessing complex competence. Firstly, we reviewed the literature about the affordances of human judgement and the mechanical combination of human judgements. Secondly, we reviewed examples of checklists and GRS which are used to assess complex competence in highly regarded professions. These examples served to contextualise and elucidate assessment matters. Thirdly, we compiled research evidence from the outcomes of systematic reviews which compared advantages and disadvantages of checklists and GRS. Together the evidence provides a nuanced and firm basis for conclusions. Overall, literature shows that mechanical combination can outperform the human integration of evidence when assessing complex competence, and that therefore a good use of human judgements is in making decisions about individual traits, which are then mechanically combined. The weight of evidence suggests that GRS generally achieve better reliability and validity than checklists, but that a high quality checklist is better than a poor quality GRS. The review is a reminder that including assessors in designing assessment instruments processes can helps to maximise manageability.



Vocational assessment, Evaluation of assessment

Journal Title

Research Matters

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Research Division, Cambridge University Press & Assessment

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