Human resources management strategy is very important for every organisation to function smoothly. Faced with rapid change organizations need to develop a more focused and coherent approach to managing people. In just the same way a business requires a marketing or information technology strategy it also requires a human resource or people strategy.
Strategic human resource management is a branch of Human resource management. It is a fairly new field, which has emerged out of the parent discipline of human resource management. Much of the early or so called traditional HRM literature treated the notion of strategy superficially, rather as a purely operational matter, the results of which cascade down throughout the organisation. There was a kind of unsaid division of territory between people-centred values of HR and harder business values where corporate strategies really belonged. HR practitioners felt uncomfortable in the war cabinet like atmosphere where corporate strategies were formulated.
Strategic human resource management is crucial large as well as small companies. In small companies this process may be as simple as the manager or the owner himself taking time to observe employees, along with assisting, assessing and giving regular reviews. However larger companies will require a whole department to be in charge of such activities for the development of employees. The quality of staff members can be improved by meting their needs in such a way that it may benefit the company. Investing in employees and providing them with tools they need to thrive and prosper in the company proves to be a good investment in the long run for the company.
So ahead in the literature review we will look in deep about the Strategic human resource management and the company following SHRM in their daily practice and how effective it is for running their organisation effectively.
The reliability, validity and utility of self assessment
This paper is a critical review of Rosss paper in which he presents a review of a research done on the reliability, validity and utility of self-assessment as a technique for improving learning. In his findings Ross (2006) reported that self assessment produced consistent positive results in terms of raising student achievement and improving behaviour for learning. According to the findings of the research it was found that strength in the use of self-assessment was embedded in training the students in the technique of assessing their own work. The stated purpose and aims of Ross’s paper were to discuss four important questions posed by teachers on the subject of self assessment. Stated below is the same set of questions which will form the core for the discussion in this paper:
Is self assessment a reliable assessment technique?
Does self-assessment provide valid evidence about student performance?
Does self assessment improve student performance?
Is self assessment a useful student assessment technique?
In this paper I argue that whereas these may be fundamental questions to teachers (Ross, 2006) it is important to take a critical look at why they were found to be relevant to the subject of assessment, why they were raised and who would benefit from the result of their investigation. I also analyse the evidence-based assertions made by Ross regarding the subject of self-assessment and the literature he used to establish his findings. First I will start by discussing assessment in general, what it is and what are its purposes before I embark on the critical analysis of Ross’s work.
The Purpose of Assessment School and schooling is about assessment as much as it is about teaching and learning. Black and William (1998a) define assessment in education as “all the activities that teachers and students alike undertake to get information that can be used diagnostically to discover strengths and weaknesses in the process of teaching and learning” (Black and William, 1998a:12). Assessment can therefore be a means of performance motivation for all stakeholders in the education system starting from the student right to the policy maker. Whereas assessment in schools may serve many purposes, Black, (1998b) sums them up into three main ones namely, support for learning, certification and accountability. The discussion throughout this paper however is confined to self-assessment as a formative form of assessment with the main objective of supporting students’ learning. Whilst Freeman and Lewis (1998) agree that assessment in general can have a big influence on pupils’ learning, paradoxically they accept that it can work against it (the learning) if teaching is done to the test, (i.e. with a focus on passing tests) while ignoring the significance and understanding of the concepts. This, they reiterate, “tends to encourage a passive reproductive form of learning” (Lewis, 1998:7) which defeats the purpose of assessment. Ross (2006) points out at the onset of his paper that assessment can be more of a stimulant to learning through prompting and motivation of students by way of giving them regular practice so they can see how well they are doing in the learning outcomes. Similarly, he asserts that giving prompt feedback on any tests done provides information that will help learners diagnose their strengths and weaknesses to help them improve their learning and understanding of concepts. Accordingly as Freeman (1998) suggests, involving the learners themselves through the use of self- assessment technique tends to help them understand their weaknesses better and aid them in planning what to do next thereby taking responsibility of their own learning. This is the central theme in Ross’s paper and forms the step by step analytical review in this paper.
Is Self-Assessment a reliable assessment technique? Before addressing the questions on self assessment in this paper I will focus briefly on some of the literature by the proponents of self-assessment technique, such as Boud, (2004), Orsmond, (2004) among others. In general terms, self assessment is what happens every time we do something and look back in the act of questioning or judging ourselves and making decisions about what we have just accomplished and what would be the next step (Boud, 2004). Self assessment means more than students grading their own work. It means involving the students in the processes of determining what is good for their learning and how they can achieve it. It requires them to consider the characteristics of a good piece of work and how they can apply this to their own work (Boud, 2004; Orsmond, 2004). Because the identification of standards and criteria used in self-assessment involves many activities, an effective self assessment process will require a great deal of preparation if it will serve the purpose it is intended to do. This paper will address the issues raised in Ross’s paper (Ross, 2006) regarding the various aspects of self assessment and its benefits to the students, teachers and parents.
Self assessment is any activity which entails the learner rather than the teacher taking the lead, (Brooks, 2002:8). As asserted by Boud (1986) in Orsmond (2004), it is the ‘involvement of learners in identifying standards and/or criteria to apply to their work and making judgements about the extent to which they have met these criteria and standards’ (p.8). Regardless of the circumstances, the most important feature of self-assessment is ‘who assumes the lead and who benefits in the process’ (Brooks, 2002:68). Whereas Ross (2006) affirms that effective self-assessment helps pupils to become better learners, heightening self awareness and deepening their insight into the assessment process, this paper takes on the task of identifying the features that make the process effective, one of which is reliability, an issue that is about to be discussed in this paragraph. Reliability as used by Ross refers to ‘the consistency of the result produced by a measurement tool under different circumstances,’ (p. 2). Also Walkin, (1991) describes reliability as “the extent to which an assessment is consistently dependable and reliable when carried out by different assessors or by a single assessor with different candidates, or at different times of day and in different places” (p.10). In this section of the paper an attempt will be made to relate these definitions and / or descriptions of reliability to the evidence provided in Ross’s paper regarding the reliability of self assessment. In the subsequent paragraphs, further attempt will be made to analyse the extent to which Ross used various scholars to establish how self-assessment can be a reliable assessment technique.
Ross, (2006) introduced his paper by observing that the majority of teachers researched were found to be widely using self-assessment although they still had doubts about the reliability of the technique. According to Ross, (2006) these doubts centred on the possibility of two extremes happening among the students. On the one hand it was found that students who were not well motivated and confused would have a tendency of over-estimating and inflating their achievement out of self interest whilst on the other hand those who were regarded as ‘good kids’ underestimated their achievement. Whereas Ross, (2006) observed that this discrepancy could possibly result in what he called a ‘construct-irrelevant variance’ (ibid.), which would most likely threaten the reliability of grading, one would still question the authenticity of the circumstances under which learners are observed to be either ‘good kids’ or ‘ill-motivated and confused. The question of who sets the criteria and who determines the good and bad learners is an issue of contention as a possible lack of consistence in the learning environment and students’ failure to cope under different circumstances may result in one student’s good day to be a bad one for the other. Likewise students who fall in the weak category may find themselves retreating into disillusionment to the detriment of their performance which in turn could affect the reliability of self-assessment. Nevertheless, this paper will explore further the concept of good students and low achievers and the effect it has on their performance in self assessment. Basing on Klenowski’s definition of self assessment (Klenowski, 1995 in Ross, 2006) Ross describes the process as bearing a formative element which aims to improve student learning.
Regarding reliability of self assessment Ross found what he called a ‘high level of internal consistency’ which typically refers to the ‘ability of the technique to yield consistent results under different circumstances’ (Walkin, 1991:10). Ross (2006) used examples of results from his own research coupled with that of other scholars such as Rolheiser and Hogaboam-Gray (2002-b) where they reported high ‘internal consistence’ in Mathematics and English. Further evidence he cited was in connection with consistence across tasks, quoting examples from Fitzgerald, Gruppen and White (2000) who examined self-assessment of medical students and found that a high level of consistence existed in the students’ results across a range of tasks, and in particular pointing out performance in the ‘examination of standardized patients’ and ‘interpretation of test results’ (Ross (2006: 4).
The frequency of assessment is another factor Ross identified as having a bearing on the reliability of self-assessment. Ross (2006) cites scholars like Blatchford (1997), whose research findings indicated that there was less consistency in the results of tasks which were less frequently assessed, therefore indicating less reliability. Likewise findings from a study by Sung, Chiou and Hou (2005) revealed a greater reliability (high consistence) when the time periods between assessments is shorter. The age of the participating students was another factor found to have a bearing on the reliability of self-assessment. The reviewed research showed that the younger the students the less reliable were the results and likewise, there was a tendency for the older students to be more realistic in their approach to self-assessment of their performance, reflecting a higher level of reliability (ibid, in Ross 2006:3).
In answer to the question whether self-assessment is a reliable assessment technique, Ross (2006) used considerable amount of literature and backed his findings by evidence-based scholarly citations ranging from beyond a decade to the most recent on the subject of assessment. Consequently he summarised his findings on this question by observing that there was enough evidence to support self-assessment as a reliable technique. Notwithstanding, Ross (2006) emphasised that the level of reliability tends to be higher when the students are properly trained to evaluate their work and it is done more frequently over short periods of time. Likewise, it is less consistent when assessment is done over longer periods and especially so when done among younger children. In his reflections on reliability Ross makes no mention of inconsistence as a result of good or bad students but points to age as a mitigating factor, where young children can have a less realistic approach to self-assessment. This paper will discuss further evidence on the relevance of Ross’s work to the subject of assessment and in whose interest it was published. In the following paragraph I present an analysis of Ross’s attempt to address the question of validity of self-assessment technique.
Does Self-Assessment provide valid evidence about student performance? Black, (1998) suggests that a test is considered to be valid if it measures that which those who prepared it intended to measure. In his paper, Ross, (2006) defines validity in self assessment as “agreement with teacher judgement” or “peer rankings” (p.3). In other words validity in self-assessment will be more obvious as we see how closely related the outcomes of the triangulation process appear. Whereas Ross’s analysis of the research results done on 48 university students (Boud and Falchikov, 1989) revealed positive results regarding validity, there was concern regarding the quality of the studies. For instance, it was found that there were unexplained variations about what constituted agreement between the self-assessed and the teacher assessed result, the criteria used by teachers and students was undefined, as well as a “lack of replications involving comparable group of student” (ibid, p. 3).
Given the likely discrepancies Ross gives several reasons why self-assessments can at times be higher than teacher ratings. First he cites examples by some scholars such as Aitchison, (1995) in which he mentions that overestimates are likely if the self assessment contributes to the final grade of a course (Boud and Falchikov, 1989, in Ross, 2006:3). Secondly age of the participating students was again found to be a factor with a bearing to validity in as much as it was with reliability of self-assessment as discussed in the preceding section. It was found that the younger the children the more likely it was for them to overestimate their performance. This phenomenon was attributed to a possible lack of cognitive skills as well as getting over ambitious in their achievements. Ross (2006) established this fact by making reference to Butler (1990), who found that self-teacher agreement increased at a higher rate of correlation with age. However Ross (2006) further attributed a high rate of student-teacher agreement to training of the students in how to properly assess their work (Ross et al, 1999; Sung et al, 2005; in Ross, 2006). In this respect Ross, (2006) established that aspects such as “knowledge of the content of the domain in which the task is embedded” (ibid, p. 3); a knowledge that self assessment is going to be compared with teacher or peer ratings (Fox