Occupational and Vocational Assessment Options in Transition Planning

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Occupational and Vocational Assessment Options in Transition Planning

  • Gary M. Clark, Ed.D.

  • Department of Special Education

  • University of Kansas

  • Lawrence, KS 66045

  • gclark@ku.edu

What do we need to know for vocational planning?

  • Student’s personal interests and preferences

  • Family preferences for student

  • Self-determination knowledge and skills

  • Employability skills

  • Vocational skills

Assessing Personal Interests and Preferences

  • Student interests and preferences

  • Family preferences

Examples of Occupational Interest Scales

  • Ashland Interest Assessment

  • Career Assessment Inventory

  • Career Directions Inventory

  • Interest Determination Exploration and Assessment System (IDEAS)

  • Occupational Interest Schedule (OASIS-3)

  • Self Directed Search

  • Your Employment Selection (YES)

Informal Assessment of Occupational Interests and Preferences

  • Interviews

  • Surveys

  • Checklists

Structured Interviews

  • A structured interview is an informal assessment technique, but it has structure to it.

  • An interview protocol is used to stay focused on the area of information desired, but probes or questions asking for clarification or examples are permitted.

Examples of Structured Interview Questions

  • What is your best subject in school? Why do you think that is your best subject?

  • What is your best area of strength outside of school? Why are you good at that?

  • What did you want to be when you were in elementary school? What do you want to be when you are an adult?

Strategies for a Structured Interview

  • Make the purpose of the interview clear and assure the interviewee that opinion questions have no right or wrong answers, but factual questions do.

  • Provide the person a copy of the questions before the interview, if possible, especially if some questions require recall of specific facts or events.

Strategies for a Structured Interview, cont’d.

  • Come prepared with a set of questions on a form or some notes for targeting questions.

  • Be flexible. Follow up on specific questions, getting clarification as needed; return to list of questions.

  • Conduct interviews in person, if possible.

Strategies for a Structured Interview, cont’d.

  • Write down enough information during the interview so you can remember the person’s responses. Complete notes later. Use tape recorder only with permission.

  • Avoid leading the person to answer a certain way or inserting personal biases.

  • Allow sufficient response time to permit person to respond fully.


  • Surveys are forms that have written questions, multiple-choice responses, checklists, or ratings designed to get information related to facts, opinions, preferences, interests, or values .


  • Advantages:

  • Provides respondent more time to think about answers

  • Provides a written record of the questions and answers

  • May be amended at any time by the respondent

  • Multiple content areas may be assessed


  • Disadvantages:

  • Requires reading and writing, a problem for non-readers and limited English-speaking persons

  • Depends upon respondents’ willingness to be honest in responses


  • Advantages:

  • Permit assessment of a variety of behaviors

  • Permit quick responses

  • Eliminate students’ need to write


  • Disadvantages:

  • Requires reading

  • Many responses are not easily answered with Yes/No or a simple check that the behavior/trait applies most of the time

  • No chance to immediately probe answers

  • Problems in reliability

Assessing Self-Determination Knowledge and Skills

Examples of Self-Determination Scales

  • Arc Self-Determination Scale

  • Responsibility and Independence Scale for Adolescents

Informal Assessment of Self-Determination Knowledge and Skills

  • Observation notes

  • Rating scales

  • Checklists

Strategies for Developing Behavioral Occupational Observation Notes

  • Behaviors observed must be actions, not inferred moods, intent, or emotional states.

  • Behaviors noted should, when possible, refer to frequency, duration, or intensity.

  • Behaviors should be precise descriptions of actions or behavior.

Strategies for Developing Behavioral Occupational Observation Notes

  • When observations are planned, decide when and where the observation(s) will take place, how many observations will be done, and who will act as observer(s).

  • Select a note recording system (e.g., audio or video recording, desk or hand-held computer notes, handwritten notes).

Rating Scales

  • Advantages:

  • May provide assessment ratings for a variety of employability behaviors in a variety of settings

  • May provide a one-time rating or provide a serial rating to show possible change in employability behavior(s)

  • Employability or vocational behaviors may be selected as appropriate for any one individual or for a group of individuals

Rating Scales

  • Advantages, cont’d.:

  • Removes student from a testing, interview, or paper/pencil format

  • Permits linking assessment to natural settings

Rating Scales

  • Disadvantages:

  • Tendency to have validity problems

  • Reliability may be affected by leniency, “halo” effect, cultural bias, rater mood, or recent events.

  • Difficult to develop quality rating scales (item wording and scaling)

Assessing Employability and Vocational Competence

Examples of Standardized Vocational Aptitude Scales

  • Ability Explorer


  • Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery

  • Career Ability Placement Survey

  • Differential Aptitude Tests

  • Occupational Aptitude Survey (OASIS-3)

Examples of Standardized Employability Scales

Examples of Mixed Non-standardized Occupational/Employability Assessments

  • Practical Assessment Exploration System (PAES)

  • Vocational Interest Temperament and Aptitude System (VITAS)

  • Environmental Job Assessment Measure (E-JAM)

  • LCCE Competency Assessment Performance Batteries

  • Workplace Educational Skills Analysis

Examples of Non-standardized Employability Scales

  • BRIGANCE® Employability Skills Inventory

  • Transition-to-Work Inventory

  • Vocational Adaptation Rating Scales

Informal Assessment of Vocational and Employability Skills

  • Situational assessment

  • Observation notes

  • Rating scales

  • Checklists

Employability and Vocational Situational Assessment

  • Advantages:

  • Permits data collection on a variety of behaviors

  • Is highly authentic assessment

  • Permits assessment to occur in the context of learning, working, social or leisure environments

Employability and Vocational Situational Assessment

  • Advantages, cont’d.:

  • Is more motivating for students than tests, surveys, interviews, etc.

  • May be ongoing for a period of time and increases reliability of assessment data

Employability and Vocational Situational Assessment

  • Disadvantages:

  • Difficult to assess some behaviors because of a lack of control over the situational environment

  • Observers/raters/evaluators cannot be in the situation at all times

  • Observers/raters/evaluators in the situation might change the situation by being there

Employability and Vocational Situational Assessment

  • Disadvantages, cont’d.:

  • Is time-consuming for student and assessment personnel

  • Requires coordination with a variety of persons/settings for it to work

  • Requires high degree of planning and monitoring

General Transition Assessment Instruments that Include Vocational/Occupational Assessment

  • Enderle-Severson Transition Rating

  • Scales

  • LCCE Competency Assessment Knowledge Batteries

  • Transition Skills Inventory (TSI)

  • Transition Behavior Scale (2/e) (TBS)

  • Transition Planning Inventory (TPI-UV)

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