Wednesday, August 4, 2010

New Tool in the Search for Better B School Candidates

Students have a new way to demonstrate their potential to succeed in business school. Along with GMAT scores, essays, and exhaustive applications, potential MBA candidates can now submit the results of personality testing directly to graduate programs. And while the use of this new technology is still a student choice, if the idea takes off you can expect graduate schools to begin requiring the personality test results as part of the standard package.

The Personal Potential Index
Educational Testing Service (ETS) has created the ETS Personal Potential Index (ETS PPI), a web-based evaluation system that provides graduate applicants ratings on specific personal attributes deemed by graduate and professional school deans and faculty to be critical for academic success.

The tool is the first of its kind to evaluate students’ noncognitive or personal attributes. Specifically, the testing process measures:

Knowledge and Creativity
Communication Skills
Teamwork
Resilience
Planning and Organization
Ethics and Integrity.
These “soft skills” are considered essential for academic success. The launch of ETS PPI marks the first large-scale use of noncognitive measures for admissions in higher education.

Michael L. Jeffries, Associate Dean of Students at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and Director of McNair Scholars & Minority Student Affairs, says ETS PPI will help identify candidates that might otherwise have been missed, while expanding opportunities for a diverse range of students. The McNair Scholars Program is a national initiative aimed at increasing the number of first-generation, low-income and/or underrepresented students in Ph.D. programs.

“The graduate community needs to continue to reduce barriers to graduate education and allow more underrepresented scholars to join the ranks of the professoriate,” explains Jeffries. “To the extent that the ETS PPI will broaden opportunities for students, it is something that I strongly support.”

Early Evidence of Success
Based on more than a decade of research, ETS PPI was developed in response to requests from graduate deans and admissions professionals to address a need for noncognitive measures to evaluate applicants. The development and introduction of ETS PPI comes with the full support of the independent Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) Board.

ETS PPI has been piloted for the past three years through the National Hispanic Research Center’s Project 1000, a program based at the University of Arizona that seeks to increase the number of underrepresented students in graduate school. ETS PPI also was successfully used during this time by ETS for selecting candidates for its summer intern program.

According to David G. Payne, Ph.D., Vice President and COO in the ETS Higher Education & School Assessments Division, research indicates that achievement gaps that exist in standardized tests do not exist in noncognitive measures, which is why ETS PPI is seen as a tool that may help to level the playing field for students seeking graduate and professional degrees, such as an MBA.

“Solid GRE scores and undergraduate grades are very important, but they don’t provide the complete picture of a candidate’s potential,” says Payne. “We’ve known for some time, thanks to research and anecdotal evidence, that qualities like resilience and teamwork were indicators of success in graduate school. The problem was how to measure them effectively. But now, with the introduction of ETS PPI, we have a tool that allows for accurate and valid measures of these critical personal attributes.”

Ready to Be Tested?
Students who have registered for the GRE General Test after May 1, 2009 will have the option of using ETS PPI and sending up to four ETS PPI evaluation reports at no additional cost. ETS PPI is not exclusive to GRE registrants. It is also available to past GRE test takers and others for a fee of $20 per report.

Student can create an ETS PPI profile online as well as contact information for the evaluators he or she would like to complete an ETS PPI evaluation. ETS then sends an e-mail to each evaluator inviting them to access the ETS PPI system to complete the student’s evaluation. Evaluators log in to the system and respond to a series of statements to rate the student on the six personal attributes and to provide an overall rating of the student. The student is notified when each evaluation has been completed and can choose the schools to which the evaluations will be sent. ETS creates an evaluation report, and sends it to the institutions designated by the student.

Find out more here: www.ets.org/ppi

The way ETS describes the process, it sounds like an extended reference letter, but apparently the science supports the results.

What do you think about personality trait testing as a criteria for grad school admission?


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