Assurance of Learning Assessment for Graduating hr students: Fact Sheet Background

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Background. In 2006, SHRM created its Academic Initiative—an effort to set the agenda for the future of HR education, based on a multi-year, multi-method research effort to define minimum standards for HR Education at the undergraduate and graduate level. Part of the long-range strategy for the Academic Initiative included creating an assurance of learning assessment for graduating HR students. In January 2009, the timeline to create this assessment was established with the goal of developing and launching the assessment by spring 2011. Consequently, and as a result of qualitative data collection efforts undertaken by SHRM between January and October 2009, SHRM commissioned the American Institutes for Research (AIR) in November 2009 to conduct a series of studies to inform the potential development of a new assessment for graduating HR students.
Goals and purpose of the Assessment. The goals of this assessment are fourfold: 1) to help universities meet their accrediting body’s assurance of learning requirements by showing that the HR degree program teaches its students what it says it will teach them; 2) to show that the student has acquired the knowledge required to enter the HR profession at the entry level; 3) to provide HR students with an achievement, by passing an exit exam, to help them differentiate themselves in the job marketplace; and, 4) to replace a student’s eligibility to take the Professional in HR (PHR) certification offered by the HR Certification Institute.
Content Areas covered on the Exam.

  • Employee and Labor Relations;

  • Employment Law;

  • HR and Organizational Strategy;

  • Managing a Diverse Workforce;

  • Performance Management;

  • Staffing: Recruitment and Selection;

  • Total Rewards;

  • Training and Development;

  • Workforce Planning and Talent Management; and

  • Leadership.

  • Career Planning;

  • Employee Benefits;

  • HR Mergers and Acquisitions;

  • Measuring HR Outcomes: Metrics and the Bottom Line;

  • Risk Management: Occupational Health, Safety, and Security; and

  • Negotiation Skills.

  • HR and Globalization, and

  • HR Information Systems.

Registration website launches January 2011. Site includes student-specific information, faculty/administrator-specific information and general information. Between now and January 2011, direct questions to
2011 test windows. May 15 – June 15, 2011  July 15 – August 15, 2011  October 15 – November 15, 2011
2012 test windows. Three(3) 30-day test windows annually.

March 15 – April 15, 2012  July 15 – August 15, 2012  October 15 – November 15, 2012

Eligibility requirements. Undergraduate students and graduate students in HR degrees or HR-related degrees are eligible to take the exam beginning 1 year before graduation and ending 1 year after graduation. The registration website will also require the applicant to provide information on a variety of areas including but not limited to the degree program sought, the university the student attends, and the number of HR-specific courses in the major area of study or concentration. Any applicant who meets the eligibility requirements will be given a registration number and will be given information about selecting a test-taking site.
Reports available to examinees and universities. Students will receive a score report. Universities will receive pass/fail information and scores for all students who attend their university. Universities will also have the option to purchase customized reports to address the requirements of accrediting bodies’ assurance of learning standards.
How should students prepare for the exam? The content of the exam reflects HR content areas in SHRM’s HR Curriculum guidelines under both required and integrated content areas defined in the guidelines. Although completing coursework toward an HR or HR-related degree program is the primary method of preparation, SHRM will be creating preparation materials that will help students acquaint themselves with the style of questions they can expect to see on the exam. Sources used as the basis for individual items on the assessment, as well as the rationales for correct and incorrect answers on the assessment, will be included in the preparation materials. This is so a student can supplement texts, research and web sites studied as part of his or her degree program with additional sources used by item writers.
Faculty members are also encouraged to review the contents of SHRM’s HR curriculum guidelines periodically and encourage students to supplement learning in their coursework through experiential learning and additional study. For example, understanding the current research and thought leadership by reading, analyzing and applying the results of empirical studies—especially on topics that are covered on the assessment but might not be covered in the university’ required coursework—would help students become acquainted with those topics. Studying HR topics through case study methodology is also an effective way for students to learn to assimilate and synthesize the various HR disciplines and integrate them into solutions and applications they may encounter as an entry level professional.
Current work of the assessment development team is focused on:

  • Item development

  • Developing preparation materials

  • Working with the TAC to get advice on policy and administration decisions

  • Creating a web site about the assessment

  • Finalizing pricing schematics for assessment and related products and services

  • Refining SHRM infrastructure to support the assessment administration

  • Identifying a test administration vendor

Next steps include:

  • Completing item development

  • Editing items

  • Building test forms

  • Conducting higher-level review of test forms

  • Creating a marketing and communication strategy

  • Testing the web site and internal infrastructure processes

  • Securing test administration vendor and testing processes

  • Launching assessment web site for customers to register for exam and purchase preparation materials (January 2011)

  • Launching the assessment with the first test window (spring 2011)

  • Setting provisional cut (passing) scores

  • Conducting psychometric analyses

  • Setting IRT-based cut (passing scores)

  • Creating reports and reporting processes

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC)

Many of the decisions about the structure, content, administration and scoring policies of the assessment are guided by a Technical Advisory Committee known as the TAC. The TAC for the SHRM Assurance of Learning Assessment is comprised of a variety of psychometricians, academics, former practitioners who are now academics and HR practitioners. The TAC is chaired by Wayne Cascio. We are currently in the process of filling one practitioner vacancy on the TAC that occurred recently. Members of the TAC are chosen based on individual expertise as well as how well each represents one of the intended stakeholder groups. TAC Members:

Wayne Cascio (TAC Chair), University of Colorado Denver  David Allen, University of Memphis  Dan LeClair, AACSB  Sue Meisinger, author, speaker, consultant on HR  Gayle Porter, Rutgers  Mark Schmit, SHRM  Neal Schmitt, Michigan State University  Karen Tarnoff, East Tennessee State University  Cheryl Wyrick, California State Polytechnic University Pomona 

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