Different Classifications of Assessment Instruments

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Assessment refers to a measurement of observable sets of behavior quantitatively and making inferences based on that information to understand the client objectively. According to Whiston (2017), counselors have more interest in human constructs like emotions, career interests, personality factors, abilities, and aptitudes.

When a client’s problem is assessed accurately by the counselor, the development of trust and rapport can be formed quickly which can benefit the client therapeutically. As accurate assessment involves gathering relevant information, Finn (2007) suggested a traditional information-gathering model in which the assessment itself is a therapeutic intervention. The objective of this model is to collect information that will guide subsequent treatment or decision making. This form of assessment method helps promote positive changes in clients like making effective decisions because the assessment results can be shared with the clients. It is evident that accurate assessment during the early counseling process can produce more positive results. Therefore, when clients are aware of their own assessment results, the counselor can make use of the results to help them evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of a decision and examine the possibilities of expected outcomes.

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Assessment instruments like tests, scales, checklists, and inventories can be classified into different categories. It includes a standardized or non-standardized instrument. Standardized instruments are assessments that requires every client to answer the same questions and their score is graded according to a same manner by following the fixed instructions for scoring the instrument in the manual. In addition, standardized instruments must be aligned with professional standards. If a comparison of the client with other individuals is required, the instrument must be administered to an appropriate and representative sample to provide validity, reliability, objectivity and administrability. This allows the possibility of a fair comparison and result in a true reflection of the assessment. A non-standardized instrument has not met these guidelines and may not provide the systematic measure of behavior that standardized instruments provide. Assessment instrument can also be classified into group testing or individual testing. The difference is of how the administration of the instrument is conducted.

Group testing can be administered to group of clients simultaneously which is a more efficient and productive as compared to individual testing. However, since group testing are conducted on a larger scale, it becomes difficult to establish rapport due to the lack of handling the group. Individual testing can be administered to only one person at a time. A substantial amount of relevant information can often be gained by observing a client’s nonverbal behaviors in a standard situation or through one to one oral responses but requires more amount of time. Assessment instrument can also be classified into objective or subjective. The different scoring method is used to evaluate the score for the assessment. Objective instruments have measurable or predetermined methods for scoring the assessment and do not require judgment from the tester to provide reliability by eliminating bias and inconsistencies. On the other hand, subjective instruments require the tester to make professional judgment and evaluate based on the quality of the answers.

Assessment instrument can also be classified into verbal or nonverbal. Verbal instruments require the examines to use verbal skills while nonverbal to denote instruments that require no language on the part of either the examiner or the examinee. Nonverbal assessment like performance tests can measure specific abilities with minimal verbal influences is culture-free. However, there are still limitations to designing instruments that have no language or verbal components. Therefore, the counselor may need to determine the degree to which language and verbal skills influence the results for some clients.

Assessment instrument can also be classified into speed or power. This classification concerns the difficulty level of the items in an assessment. A speed test consists of items with similar level of difficulty and only examines the speed of response or rate of performance in a specified time. A power test comprises of items varying in difficulty, with more credit given for higher difficulty items and it measures how well the examinee can answer the questions regardless of speed of performance. For example, a speed test can be administered when the purpose of an assessment is to determine how fast an individual can do a specific task while a power test can be done if assessing the underlying ability of an individual is required like mathematical abilities.

Assessment instrument can also be classified into cognitive or affective. Cognitive instruments assess cognition, perceiving, processing, concrete and abstract thinking. It usually involves using intelligence tests, achievement tests, and aptitude tests. Intelligence tests is essentially related to how “smart” the individual is as it measures a person’s ability in a wide spectrum of activities. Affective instruments assess interest, attitudes, values, motives, temperaments, and the noncognitive aspects of personality. Affective assessment involves both informal and formal techniques. The application of formal techniques includes structured personality tests like the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2, allows individuals to respond to a set of established questions and select answers from the provided alternatives.

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