The COA assessment philosophy
The COA programmes are designed to help students to make better, more informed decisions about their future education and career choices. To do this, the programmes use a combination of guidance materials, self-assessments, independent assessments and objective assessments to provide information on students’ interests, abilities, motivations, attitudes and values. The assessments are provided through a mix of questionnaires, tests, qualifications, interviews and teacher assessments. The central concept is that students will do well in their future choices if they have the right mix of abilities, motivation and understanding. The programmes do not, however, make use of personality tests or learning and thinking style inventories. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, the programmes are run with students who are still developing and maturing. Although some aspects of personality may be fairly stable over time, others change with experience and learning. In addition:
- Courses and jobs have many facets. Different personalities and learning and thinking styles can be effective in different aspects of a job. It is very, very unusual for one personality type or one style of thinking to be the only one relevant to an academic subject , profession or job.
- People can adapt their behaviour to cope with different personality types and styles of thinking and learning if they are sufficiently motivated.
- Assumptions are often made about the relationship of preferred personality types and learning and thinking styles to job success which turn out to be wrong.
- Personality assessment is a highly skilled activity. We consider it unsafe to provide personality assessments to untrained individuals who are in danger of over-interpreting or mis-using such information.
- Providing simplified feedback on personality test results or assessments of learning and thinking styles are likely to mis-represent the student.
So, at COA we avoid making use of such information and focus on the information about achievements, abilities, motivations and attitudes that we do collect.