Out With The Old, In With The New Year (2017 Edition)

Traditionally, I have started the New Year with a blog that recaps the past and looks to the future in assessment.  This year we say good bye to 2016, and enter 2017.  Of course, the big news in the United States was the election of a new President.  I am not bold enough to claim I can predict how a new administration will impact public sector human resources.  However, I do believe that I can make a prediction regarding the three hot trends for next year, and, they are each a carryover from the past several years.

My habit has been to insert a statement concerning how difficult it is to predict the future. However, this year I was surprised to find that many of the topics I would select for future trends, were actually covered in my blogs over the past year. So, maybe I am getting better at prophecy with advancing age.

My predictions for future trends or hot topics over the coming year include:

  • Big Data and Predictive Analytics.
  • Emerging Technologies.
  • Police Performance.

Big Data and Predictive Analytics

Sure, it was a bad year for big data.  Prognosticators missed badly when it came to predicting the Presidential election.  As a Clevelander, I am in deeper distress over the Cleveland Browns (a team in the National Football League, built on moneyball, big data, and analytics) being 1 victory and 15 losses.  Despite these data digging disasters, Big Data and Predictive Analytics are here to stay.  However, the implications for daily practice in public sector personnel are difficult to foresee.  Still, this is a topic that will demand the attention of human resource professionals in the coming year.

As I have opined in the past, as assessment professionals, we will have to increase our awareness of advancements in the use of big data and predictive analytics and ensure that all selection decisions are made in a fair and valid manner. Within the public sector, we should remain wary of any attempt to substitute the measurement of demographic or life history variables for professionally developed and validated assessments of merit.

Emerging Technologies

I recently finished coauthoring a chapter on emerging technologies, so I am hoping it remains a hot topic, after all how can it miss.  Having said that, in the last few months there have been several articles in the popular press bemoaning the lack of recent innovation in technology.  Nevertheless, technology will continue to have a significant impact on personnel assessment; topics to look to for important advances would include:

  • Gamification (this may have the most immediate effect on public sector testing).
  • The mining of Facebook in order to extract personality and other data.
  • The automated scoring of essays and written material (another potential game changer in public sector testing).
  • Applications of machine learning.
  • The use of avatars (discussed in more detail in the next section)

Police Performance

The topic of police performance continues to dominate the news cycle and social media.  Recently, the American Psychological Association published a major article on implicit bias and the testing of implicit bias.  The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology had a major article on the topic of “Baltimore Burning,” with accompanying replies looking at how psychologists can improve police performance.

My own advice would be that we need a lot more work and research on topics such as training to reduce implicit bias and testing for implicit bias, before either option can be recommended to most police departments.  Still, as assessment professionals, we must continue to press forward with the development of better systems for recruiting, selecting, and training police officers.  In order to assist you, Assessment Services has a comprehensive suite of products for police selection.

A Look Back

Last year was a slow one in terms of my production of blogs.  I apologize, but although I try to keep simplifying my calendar, instead my life seems to get more complex.  Having said that, the following four blogs appeared during 2016.

As you can see, a major theme for 2016 was the interview.  In part, this accompanied the introduction by IPMA-HR of a new system for interviewing police known as the Police Officer Structured Interview System (POSIS).

A Look Forward

I am pleased to be able to continue to offer my blog through IPMA-HR Assessment Services.  The next blog will cover the topic of risk and its impact on planning.  In 2017, we hope to offer a blog devoted to the topic of the validity of assessments for public safety selection.

I also will strive to make my blogs shorter and deliver them on a more regular, hopefully monthly, schedule.

Happy New Year

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About Dennis Doverspike

Dennis Doverspike, Ph.D., ABPP, is a Full Professor of Psychology at the University of Akron, Senior Fellow of the Institute for Life-Span Development and Gerontology, and Director of the Center for Organizational Research. He is certified as a specialist in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and in Organizational and Business Consulting by the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) and is a licensed psychologist in the State of Ohio. Dr. Doverspike has over thirty years of experience working with consulting firms and with public and private sector organizations. Services provided include individual assessments, statistical analysis, development of large scale assessment systems, job evaluation and job analysis, and expert witness services. He is the author of 3 books and over 150 other professional publications. Dennis Doverspike received his Ph.D. in Psychology in 1983 from the University of Akron. His M.S. in Psychology is from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and his B.S. is from John Carroll University.

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