Validity and Reliability in assessments

Validity and Reliability in assessments

Assessments are a vital fragment of determining how effectively an organization’s goals are being attained. Assessments serve many functions that can affect decision-making, promotion, hiring, and placement. But what exactly qualifies as a good assessment tool? 

 A test is an assessment instrument created to measure specific constructs and behavior within a group/population. The degree to which an assessment tool is relevant relies on its validity and reliability— whether or not it is measuring what it claims to measure and if it yields consistent results from different people for a particular purpose. Validity and reliability are considered the two most important characteristics of a good assessment instrument.

What is assessment Validity?

Validity is one of the fundamental aspects to take into evaluating an assessment. It refers to how accurate the measurement is in relation to what it intends to measure (for instance, measuring a candidate’s leadership qualities; the instrument’s content should measure that particular skill). An assessment is considered valid if its content (items) accurately represents the category it is intended to evaluate (skills, personality traits, behavior, etc.)

There are four main types of validity that can help determine the accuracy of an instrument: Construct validity, Content Validity, Criterion Validity and Face Validity. 

Construct Validity analyzes if an assessment tool accurately describes the concept we are trying to measure. This is crucial to determining a method’s overall validity. In understanding an assessment’s construct validity, the items should not overlap with other constructs (a test for conscientiousness should not include the respondent’s self-esteem, mood, openness, etc). Content Validity determines whether the test content is reflective and matches all facets of the subject it aims to measure. The content validity of an assessment is at a disadvantage if a variable is lacking (or if irrelevant aspects are included in the content). Criterion Validity also known as criterion-related validity, assesses how well an instrument/tool covers the outcome it was intended to assess. An outcome can be the individual’s job performance or behavior. An assessment tool has criterion validity if its findings agree with those of another, recognized instrument. Face Validity refers to whether an assessment appears to measure what it is supposed to measure. This kind of validity is concerned with an assessment tool that initially appears relevant and appropriate for the thing it’s evaluating.

When assessing the validity of the assessment, it is important to determine whether the test may be used in the exact way you intended and whether your main test-takers are comparable to the test reference population (the organization’s population).

What is assessment Reliability?

The term reliability refers to how consistently a test assesses a measure (trait, characteristic, intelligence, etc). Will someone get a similar test score if they retake it, or will their score be significantly different? An assessment tool is said to accurately measure a characteristic if a person who takes it again receives results that are similar.

If an assessment instrument consistently produces the desired results but fails to measure what it is intended to measure, it may be dependable but not valid.  Interchangeably, it can be valid but not reliable considering various circumstances.

The reliability of assessments in workplace environments is influenced by different factors: Testing environment, temporary psychological state, social norms, and multiple raters. 

Testing environment. The testing environment includes a change in the room’s temperature, lighting, and noise level from where the test taker is answering the assessment may have an impact on performance. When an assessment is taken online, the device, computer, level of technology literacy, and internet connection can all have an impact on the results. The test administrator can also influence the performance of an individual. Test administrators are held accountable for delivering exams securely and providing instructions as objectively as possible. The tone of voice and the behavior while the test is being administered should be neutral but welcoming so that the test-taker feels comfortable and at ease while answering the assessment rendering a more dependable score.

Psychological state. The psychological state of an individual at the time of testing may have an impact on their test performance. The test results could be impacted by factors like varying levels of anxiety, mood, or motivation, for instance. The test administrator should consider many aspects when it comes to the administration of the assessment. Explaining the content of the assessment tool and what it is measuring should be explained prior to the administration of the test. The way an individual may feel uncomfortable with some of the questions/items should be properly addressed. A distressed test-taker can produce an unsatisfactory score on the assessment. It is necessary to either stop or put the assessment on hold to avoid uneasiness on the part of the test-taker. 

Culture and Social norms. Culture influence how someone perceives and handles challenges, as well as how they interpret situations and events. Norms are used to indicate traits or actions that are normal or frequent in a certain population. This factor has an impact on how an individual interprets and responds to the items/questions in the assessment tool, thus, influencing their overall scores. These must be taken into consideration when interpreting their scores.

Multiple raters(professional). In some assessments, the score is based on the rater’s evaluation of the responses. The test taker’s test results may vary depending on the raters’ backgrounds, levels of experience, and frames of reference. The skills and experience of the person in charge of interpreting the scores of the test-taker should maintain an unbiased judgment of their responses, taking into account the individual’s culture, social norms, environment, and psychological state.

Valid and reliable assessment tools generate accurate and consistent data on individuals. This indicates the need for trustworthy tools in order to interpret test results in a meaningful way and to decide on a job or vocation.

A professional’s experience and skills should be taken into account when conducting the assessment 

Applying reliable and valid assessment tools can assist professionals in making better selections when implemented right. Furthermore, utilizing a number of assessment tools as part of an assessment program can accurately evaluate people’s skills and capacities while minimizing the impact of errors associated with any one instrument on your decision-making.

Factors HR should take into consideration before choosing an assessment tool

When deciding which type of assessment is right for you, there are several factors to consider. 

A Training needs assessment might be the best choice if the company’s goal is to select training courses, prepare a training and development plan for individual growth, or quickly assess an individual’s competencies to figure out which training fits their needs. 

An individual competency assessment might be the best choice if the company needs to allocate a training budget across a group of employees, better understand what employees in particular groups/teams/units can and cannot do, inform succession planning, take stock of the competencies that exist across the organization, or better align individual capabilities with an overall strategy to foster productivity. 

A skills assessment, personality, or behavioral assessment might be the best choice to support hiring decisions. If the intent is to qualify the talent pool against the skills and behavior requirements of the role, these assessments will help you remove bias and accelerate the candidate selection process 

The technical quality of the assessment, the assessment consultant’s experience, and the readiness of the organization are additional factors that affect the choice of assessment. Regardless of which type of assessment is chosen, it should provide the information needed to make informed decisions. Assessments are important tools that can lead organizations and employees toward increased effectiveness and better employee retention.

Learn more about the science behind Huneety behavior assessment here