03/01/2014

A Counselor’s Guide to Career Assessment Instruments

Book Review by Shengli Dong & Alia Warner

Wood, C., & Hays, D. G. (Eds.). (2013). A counselor’s guide to career assessment instruments (6th ed.). Broken Arrow: National Career Development Association.567 pages.

 

If you are a practitioner, a trainee, or a counselor educator interested in assessment within career and counseling fields, A Counselor’s Guide to Career Assessment Instruments (6th ed.) is a great choice considering its ease of use, attention to special topics, comprehensiveness, and enduring utility. Over the past thirty years, the first five editions have gained great attention and success. The newest edition provides counselors, researchers, trainees, and educators an essential guide to career assessment and a comprehensive list of career assessment instruments. The widespread content areas in the book are written by leading experts in the corresponding fields and present information that is relevant and helpful to career practitioners within a variety of settings and at all levels of experience.

 

Overview of the Book's Structure

Part I of the book (Chapters 1-9) provides a foundational introduction to career assessment, such as the use and trends, test administration/interpretation, and computer assisted career assessment. Part II (Chapters 10-16) provides details on 73 major career assessment instruments in the following categories:

  • aptitude and achievement,

  • comprehensive or combined measures,

  • interest and value inventories,

  • career development/career maturity,

  • personality,

  • instruments for special populations, and

  • qualitative and alternative approaches to standardized assessments.

In addition, 232 career assessment instruments are briefly introduced, including information such as publisher, intended population, a brief description of the instrument, and references for further information. These additional instruments are grouped into similar categories as those used to organize the major instrument reviews.

 

The book is easy to use in terms of its organization and structure due to five major reasons. First, major instruments are grouped into chapters based on the constructs measured. Second, major instrument reviews begin with a one-page summary (including target population, purpose of instrument, cost of materials, etc.), enabling a quick reference. Third, most instrument sections include a description of the instrument, technical considerations, general utility and evaluation, and additional references. Fourth, an extensive reference section concludes each chapter, while some chapters also include additional sources enabling the reader to locate further information if needed. Last, “A Counselor’s Guide User’s Matrix” (Appendix A) serves as a quick and a stress-free reference tool for each of the 305 instruments, including the instrument’s name (listed in alphabetical order), constructs measured, and the use of the instrument. The excellent organization of this book makes it a helpful quick reference, allowing practitioners to easily find relevant material regarding a specific assessment area, instrument, and/or additional resources.

 

History of the Assessment Reference Book

A Counselor’s Guide to Career Assessment Instruments (6th ed.)has undergone extensive revision and improvement since its first publication in 1982, with each edition making the book more useful and current. The most recent edition has preserved key themes and made valuable additions, such as multiculturalism. As counselors are meant to be culturally competent, and with the recent move towards social justice, advocacy, and social change, the book adds an essential chapter focused on multicultural considerations in assessment. Dr. Kathy Evans discusses the selection of culturally appropriate measures, the Culturally-Appropriate Career Assessment Model (CACAM), counseling strategies for working with multicultural clients, and an applicable vignette. Another new chapter includes material on the career assessment process beyond test administration, which covers important information regarding interpretation and the communication of results from multicultural perspectives.

 

Increasing Counselor Competencies

This book serves as an excellent avenue for improving awareness, knowledge, and skills in career assessment competencies among professional counselors and students in training. First, the guide acknowledges considerations of multiculturalism, disability, and special populations that all counselors should be aware of in regard to assessment, providing feedback, and practice. Such information may improve helping skills and competency of working with diverse populations. Second, this book adds its obvious contribution to assessment competency and provides information on ethical and legal issues within the realm of assessment. Career development models may also be more fully understood by the reader regarding the ways that assessment contributes to career counseling theories and techniques. Third, the book includes a chapter on computer-assisted career assessment and covers assessments that may be administered electronically, improving the readers’ competency in career assessment technology.

 

The book editors and authors of the first chapter, Dr. Chris Wood and Dr. Danica Hays, have a fundamental understanding of the pervasiveness of topics related to career assessment, and identify the utility of inevitable interaction of career-related concerns with a diversity of presenting issues. Thus, the book follows suit and is widely applicable to working with a variety of clientele and diverse backgrounds.

 

The first author of this review has taught graduate level courses in assessment and multicultural counseling, and has published on career related topics. The second author has taken graduate level assessment courses and served as a teaching assistant for an assessment course in counseling. The authors found that the book aids students and teachers, who can benefit from the newly included applicable case examples and review questions at the end of each chapter.

 

Strengths and Limitations

This book has a great amount of strengths. The assessment guide has exceptional organization, including multiple tools for quick reference. The writing is clear and concise, although it changes slightly between chapters as a result of the multiple authors. We found this provides a more personable read. The comprehensiveness of the book makes this guide a go-to resource that students may use long after graduation and practitioners may use for multiple purposes, such as reviewing best-practices for assessing special populations, gathering information regarding a variety of assessments, and/or finding additional resources for more extensive review of assessments. Although this book is of excellent quality, it may benefit from an introductory explanation of the various categories of measures discussed (e.g., personality, interest, career maturity, etc.). In the book's Preface, the reader is appropriately cautioned: “...limitations of length, technical documentation, and the occasional divided professional opinion suggest that serious readers will need to undertake additional investigation using the technical manuals and sources referenced. Further, given continual changes in test pricing, purpose and technical data available, readers are encouraged to review additional materials as they select career assessment instruments.”

 

Overall, we found this book engaging, comprehensive, and far more organized than most assessment books used. Therefore, at a cost of $55.00 for NCDA members and $70.00 for non-members, A Counselor’s Guide to Career Assessment Instruments (6th ed.)is of extraordinary value!

 

This book is available in NCDA's Career Resource Store.

 


 

Shengli Dong, PhD, CRC, is an Assistant Professor of Psychological and Counseling Services in the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems at the Florida State University. His current research focuses on workplace and academic accommodations, transition issues to work and postsecondary education for youth with disabilities, mindfulness in counseling, multicultural counseling, and social justice in counseling. He can be contacted at sdong@fsu.edu.

 

Alia Warner is a Counseling Psychology doctoral student at the Florida State University (FSU). Her research areas include mindfulness, people with disabilities, and assessment. She is beginning a practicum at FSU’s career center and is particularly interested in working with college students. She can be contacted at arw10d@my.fsu.edu.


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