Inaugural IABS Journal

Independent Association of Business Scholars
Edition 1 Volume 1
October 2016
IABS Journal
Inaugural Edition
Editor in Chief
Editor
Inaugural Members
Website
Dr. J. Robert Heinzman
Dr. Brian A. Iannucci
Dr. Jennifer Garland
Dr. Camille Nelson
Dr. Joseph Heinzman Jr.
Dr. Jose Perez Jr.
inasbus2016.wixsite.com/iabs
Copyright © 2016 IABS
All rights reserved.
ISBN-13: 978-153916479
i
Welcome to the Independent Association
of Business Scholars Proceedings
Allow me to be the first to welcome you to the Independent
Association of Business Scholars’ inaugural publication. Within these
pages, you will find a wealth of information that has been painstakingly
presented by a number of business authors and scholars. In addition,
each contribution to these proceedings has been peer-reviewed and
reviewed by additional business scholars. It is the hope of the
Independent Association of Business Scholars (IABS) that these
proceedings will be food for thought for your business practice as well
as meet several lofty purposes within the field of business.
What is the Purpose of this Publication?
Throughout the course of any scholarly endeavor, it is necessary for
scholars to have an outlet for their thoughts, research, opinions, and
theories. This is an important step in the process that continues to allow
for expanded thought and collaboration. As scholars, we are first and
foremost committed to growing our knowledge in our respective fields.
For it is this contribution to the field which differentiates us from the
practitioner working in the field. For this purpose, the Independent
Association of Business Scholars has been formed.
If you are reading these proceedings, you are no doubt interested in
expanding your personal knowledge in the general field of business. For
this, you are to be applauded. As has been said many times,
complacency and stagnation are counter-productive to success. This is
ii
due to a lack of improvement. This lack of improvement can be in any
aspect of business. From leadership to human resources, accounting to
operations, an important element of success comes from a willingness to
hone methods and processes. These proceedings are a forum for
business scholars to share their thoughts and research to assist the
practitioner in this effort. The first purpose of these proceedings is for
the reader to consider the contents of this journal to be recommendations
for personal and professional improvement. These recommendations can
either be discarded or employed at the practitioner’s whim thus
empowering the practitioner to improve their abilities and lead to a
higher likelihood of success.
The second purpose of these proceedings is to offer a forum for
scholars to express their thoughts and provide their research for greater
use. There is no higher calling in the field of research than that of having
an opportunity to contribute to the improvement and betterment of the
field and those who labor within said field. IABS recognizes the need to
promote research and its publication but also recognizes the need for a
forum for scholars to discuss their thoughts and provide opinions in a
written form. Scholars are provided this opportunity to submit their
research, opinions, and theories and are, therefore, afforded the
opportunity to reach a larger audience.
The editorial board of this publication has as one of its primary
goals to provide scholars the opportunity to share and publish high-
quality, peer-reviewed information in a forum that is more open than a
traditional scholarly journal. Because of this flexibility, IABS endeavors
iii
to cater to a myriad of different business subjects. This flexibility will
also enable scholars to free themselves of the usual constraints normally
associated with publication. Among these restrictions are page limits,
field limitations, statistical constraints, and other criteria for submission.
Further, it is also important to note that a financial cost associated with a
publication that is found in other journals is purposefully not present. A
journal seeking a profit motivation by having high submission costs
increases the barrier to publication. For this purpose, IABS also
endeavors to meet the needs of scholars who choose not to be a part of
the traditional pay-for-publication system.
IABS purposefully has a broad call for submission that promotes
a more free exchange of scholarly ideas. This is not to be confused with
a lack of academic rigor as IABS still maintains a high degree of
integrity and a focus on quality scholarship. Rather, the aim of this
purpose is to foster a more open academic discourse.
The third and final purpose for these proceedings is to foster a
healthy exchange of ideas and academic discourse. Discussion
stemming from publications and the opportunity to bolster, refute, or
further ideas presented in these proceedings is not only welcomed but
encouraged. With the lofty goal of a positive impact on the field of
business, the IABS looks forward to creating and furthering the
academic conversation of the theories and ideas posited within these
pages as well as the real world implications of such ideas. Those who
publish within these pages are and will be afforded the opportunity to
continually contribute and are welcomed into the conversation with
iv
open arms as they contribute to this discourse.
Academic discourse naturally creates friction and conflict. The lofty
goal of such conflict is to further advances in the field. Moreover, it is
important to have discussions on the concepts and ideas posited in our
field. This discussion will be productive if, and only if, three main
criteria are met.
1. A free exchange of ideas can only be present if the barrier to
publication is at a level that will allow for discussion and
disagreement. Omitting conflicting thought and suppressing
a free exchange of ideas does nothing but stall the academic
discourse which is necessary within our field. For this
reason, IABS promotes and encourages submissions relating
to previous articles and thoughts. Whether to bolster or
disagree, such submissions will promote a free exchange of
ideas.
2. It is imperative that the discourse be civil and based on a
factual exchange of thoughts and ideas. There is no room for
incivility. Rather, a good faith effort is assumed and required
of all who contribute to this publication. Discussion is at its
heart a free exchange of ideas. However, if not done
correctly, the discussion will naturally be stifled and halted.
Such behavior cannot and will not be tolerated within this
forum.
3. A plethora of fields must be welcomed to this discussion. Far
too often scholars only publish in journals catering to their
v
specific fields. These journals are inherently edited and run
by individuals within that same field. This flaw could lead to
a groupthink mentality and stifle a free exchange of ideas.
For this purpose, IABS welcomes scholars from every field
that can even remotely be related to business. The diversity
of thought that can be fostered by contributions from a
multitude of fields cannot be understated. This diversity of
thought and backgrounds will enrich our discussion and
further contribute to the impact of these proceedings.
The Future of IABS
As this journal grows and IABS takes on new members it is the goal
of this organization to provide increased opportunities for publication
and presentation. In addition to this journal, it is hoped that conferences
and other opportunities will come about from this endeavor thus
continuing to further goals outlined here as well as increase the prestige,
impact, and scope of this project. The purpose set forth above will be the
overarching guide for IABS and its future dealings. Opportunity to
further these purposes will be welcomed. Expanding the impact and
scope of IABS is a primary goal in the coming years.
What Significant Contribution Does IABS Provide?
As you can see, the goals set forth by the IABS are indeed lofty.
However, at this juncture in the evolution of academia, it is important to
have such goals. Simply put, the traditional method of academic
vi
publication and discourse has become too exclusive. As a result of this
exclusivity, the benefit of scholarly endeavors is not readily translated
into the field for day-to-day use. It is important to remove the barriers
between the hallowed, often vine-clad, halls of academia and real-world
practice.
Too often the two do not intersect except when a practitioner
endeavors into a classroom for further education. This flawed model
does not promote continuous improvement within the field and often
lends itself too often to business practitioners searching for the next guru
or book from which they can glean a few precious ideas. This journal
will be a treasure trove of such concepts and ideas and will be a true
benefit to those who are seeking business improvement. The purposes
outlined above are in place to ensure the maximum benefit to both
scholars and practitioners with an overall goal of having a positive
impact on business. The topics discussed in these pages will also
provide validated academically sound information from terminally-
degreed scholars who are adept at research and teaching and have
chosen as their calling in life to contribute to their field by educating
others. This impact cannot be understated.
Far too often business publications are written by individuals who
do not possess the academic qualifications to accurately analyze and
follow a scientific method. Further, a profit motivation is in place that
often leads to overstated claims of success and the promise of simple
solutions.
vii
This often leads to disappointment as well as a waste of time and
money. Overall, the current process leads to a great deal of skepticism
and distrust.
As outlined above, the IABS, through these proceedings seeks to
bridge the gap between scholars and practitioners with an altruistic goal
of improving business conditions, practices, and processes. IABS is
keenly aware that such improvement will have a far-reaching benefit for
businesses, our business practitioners, and the overall success of the
economy. In short, “A rising tide raises all boats.” This calling has led
to this endeavor and it is hoped that, in no small way, this publication
contributes to these successes.
In closing, I would like to once again welcome you to the inaugural
publication of these proceedings. It is hoped that you will enjoy the
contents of this journal and will find them worthy of consideration for
your personal and professional practice. Further, it is also hoped that
you will consider sharing your thoughts, ideas, research, and theories in
future IABS publications.
I would like to personally wish you well in your current and future
endeavors. May you find your personal version of success!
Brian A. Iannucci, Ph.D.
Editor, Contributor, and Member
Independent Association of Business Scholars
i
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Pg. 1
Editors Note
Pg. 2
Author: Jennifer Garland DBA
The Significance of Team Culture in Organizations in
Creating, Sharing, and Managing Knowledge
Pg. 16
Authors: Joseph Heinzman DBA & Jose Perez Ed.D.
An Exploration of Millennials
“Attitudinal and Behavioral Differences”
Pg. 42
Author: J. Robert Heinzman D.M.
THEORIES OF MEANING AND VALUE IN ACTION
Pg. 64
Author: Camille Nelson Ph.D.
Shifting Paradigms for College-Student Placement:
Alternatives to Standardized Testing
Pg. 90
Author Information / Submission Guidelines
1
EDITORS NOTE
In this volume of IABS we have gathered articles discussing
Managing Knowledge, Culture, Generations, Values, and Standardized
Testing. Each of these articles have a unique voice discussing issues
affecting businesses today. Business leaders must be concerned with
how to build high performing teams in a diverse environment globally.
Dr. Garland’s article discusses knowledge management and sharing
which is an important function to maintaining high performance and
being competitive in any industry. When an employer does not value
team cultures, knowledge, and the synergy teams build, competitive
advantage is decreased.
Dr’s Heinzman * Perez posited understanding differences in each
generation is an important part of process and operational functions in
business. Understanding builds strength in an organization which assists
moving forward and gaining competitive advantages.
In my article, I explore opportunities to gain a better understanding
of how values are learned and grow which may be helpful in finding
better methods to build teams which perform well. Leadership is a
function in business which has a direct effect on followers. The
perceptions and cultural values can differ between generations,
individually, regionally, nationally, and especially globally.
Dr. Nelson provides an interesting pros & cons discussion on
standardized testing. Performing well may be affected by testing
methods which may affect individual’s direction into the work place.
Certainly, a diverse wealth of material which I believe has great
value for any who read this material with a thoughtful purpose.
May ignorance be left behind and rhetoric melt away.
Dr. J. Robert Heinzman
2
The Significance of Team Culture in Organizations in
Creating, Sharing, and Managing Knowledge
Jennifer Garland, DBA
jennifer.garland@wgu.edu
Western Governors University
Abstract
Knowledge creation, sharing, and management are important, large-
scale concerns in organizations in the twenty-first century. Developing
processes to generate and harness knowledge, particularly tacit
knowledge specific to the individual organization and its processes and
culture, can be an enormous undertaking from both the conceptual
standpoint and from that of an information systems application and
management process. This article explores the manner in which
knowledge creation, sharing, and management can become embedded in
the organizational culture as a natural process, rather than one requiring
design and management, through an emphasis on team-building and the
subsequent transactive memory systems that emerge.
Keywords: Knowledge Management, Knowledge Sharing, Knowledge
Creation, Team-building, Organizational Culture, Team-bound
culture, Transactive Memory Systems, Leadership
Knowledge creation, sharing, and management has gained
recognition and respect in global business as a function which can
improve competitive advantage, support organizational outcomes, and
lead to more intensive innovation and sharing. Building, managing, and
supporting these processes, however, can represent a complex challenge.
Effective knowledge management is the responsibility not only of
leaders in an organization but of all members, maximizing the intangible
assets recognized through human knowledge and interaction. This
knowledge is used to support business operations, further development
3
of ideas and products, improve processes, organize information, make
data available to all organizational members, and encourage creativity in
application and sharing.
Access to organizational knowledge can reduce barriers, both
cultural and geographical, improve communications, and enhance
innovation, therefore leaders should prioritize this aspect of their
function within the company.
Knowledge management begins with knowledge creation, which is
a product of human interaction with one another and with the
organization in the business setting (Rai, 2011). Aspects of each
individual’s personal knowledge, understanding, experience, and
personality are combined in the workplace to generate new ideas and
approaches to accomplishing goals, solving problems, or making
effective decisions. In order to manage this process, leaders must
develop an in-depth understanding of the impact of organizational
culture, particularly social interaction and teamwork and must adapt
their leadership style to ensure they remain effective in this role. Due to
the multifaceted nature of knowledge management, emphasis is
increasingly being placed on the creation of a teamwork based culture
which supports knowledge creation and sharing allows the management
of knowledge to become naturally embedded in team and individual
processes.
This paper will define and discuss key aspects of organizational culture
and a team environment in the process of knowledge creation,
knowledge sharing, and knowledge management with the purpose of
4
supporting the leadership perspective on each in contemporary
organizations. The concept is defined from a social aspect highlighting
the evolution and dispersion of knowledge through social interaction at
the team and group levels, the importance of transactive memory
systems, and the ways in which knowledge creations, sharing, and
management can become embedded in an appropriate and supportive
team-bound organizational culture.
Defining Knowledge Creation and Knowledge Management
The current understanding of the concept of knowledge
management is very much defined by the business environment of the
21st century, as is the academic discussion relating to it. Beginning the
discussion at the turn of the 21st century, Rastogi (2000) defines
knowledge management as “a systematic and integrative process of
coordinating organization-wide activities of acquiring, creating, sorting,
sharing, diffusing, developing, and deploying knowledge by individuals
and groups in pursuit of major organizational goals”. This definition is
foundational to the generalized understanding of knowledge
management in business today.
Modern organizations of almost every type have a constant and
swift flow of information and knowledge both internally, and through
external communications and interactions, creating a dynamic
environment in which integration of so much data must be thoughtfully
and carefully managed. The ability to capture and share organizational
knowledge generated among its members and within its environment is
5
the ultimate expectation of effective knowledge management (Rastogi,
2000). However, knowledge creation is an important aspect of
knowledge management; there is rarely an instance where enough
organizational knowledge exists and the sole purpose is to simply
manage it. Knowledge creation should be continuous, taking place at all
times and adding to the existing organizational knowledge system
(Nejatian, Nejati, Zarei, & Soltani, 2013). In this way, existing
organizational knowledge supports the creation of new organizational
knowledge, avoiding stagnation and allowing innovation to evolve
throughout the culture of the organization.
In the contemporary business environment, knowledge is often
more than a straightforward understanding of organizational processes,
outcomes, and expectations. Organizations must stress the intangible
aspects, such as culture awareness and sensitivity, culture, transferable
market or industry knowledge, and innovation as well in order to
generate a true competitive advantage through knowledge creation and
management (Ringel-Bickelmaier and Ringel, 2010; Mojibi,
Hosseinzadeh, and Khojsteh, 2015).
Mojibi et al. (2015) suggest that true innovation and benefit through
knowledge management only occurs when the intellectual capital of an
organization is inclusive of all categories of human capital including
behavior, communication, customer, and structural capital. In order to
be truly progressive, knowledge should be created, shared, and managed
in each of these contexts and this can only occur when the import of
knowledge is well defined as a key organizational function overall.
6
Organizations maximizing knowledge management as a competitive
advantage may be referred to, logically, as knowledge-intensive
organizations. Lopez, Peon, and Ordas (2004) define some major
variables found within these organizations that can be easily identified
in the knowledge creation process. First, the individual is considered as
a key component of knowledge generation, as they hold skills,
experiences, capacity of learning, and cognition which can be expressed
to others through behavior and attitude (Lopez et al., 2004). Second is
the concept of teams or groups, in which a synergy must occur among
multiple individuals as they work towards organizational goals and
objectives (Lopez et al., 2004). Finally, the organizational culture plays
a key role, as it can be either supportive or detrimental to the knowledge
creation and sharing processes (Lopez et al., 2004). The interactions of
people with one another, team members with one another, teams with
other teams, and ultimately, organizational members with the
organization create a network in which knowledge flows. For this
reason, knowledge management is at its most effective when it is
embedded in the organizational culture.
Organizational Culture and Knowledge
Organizational culture represents perhaps the most critical area for
leaders to emphasize knowledge management; the internal culture of a
corporation must include support for positive social interaction and
sharing of ideas. Rai (2011) specifically highlights organizational
culture as the element which can impact knowledge more than any
7
other, due to its influence on how individuals learn, acquire, and share
knowledge. Certain aspects of culture have been found to have a
positive impact on knowledge, such as collectivism, while others, such
as power distance, are often detrimental (Rai, 2011). Leaders who are
effective at fostering knowledge creation and undertaking knowledge
management will consider research such as this, and will seek to
develop a culture of trust and ethics; rather than inducing a competitive
atmosphere, leaders will seek to grow organizational knowledge through
relationship-building, stability, and collaboration (Rai, 2011).
It is also important to consider Martin’s (2000) earlier discussion of
knowledge creation and knowledge management in regard to its
relationship to organizational culture, which states that knowledge often
becomes embedded not only in documents or repositories, but also in
organizational routines, processes, practices, and norms. This clearly
indicates the potential for the culture and norms to allow knowledge to
grow outside of technological data management or standardized
processes, feeding off of the environment above all else. As Senge
(1990) demonstrates, interactions between individuals are often defined
by contradictions, be it in values, beliefs, goals, expectations, or
personal traits. While conflict can occur as a result of these
contradictions, learning can occur as well. Conflict can represent
tangible evidence of the growth of knowledge and creation of
knowledge as a natural outcome when resolution occurs (Fillion, Koffi,
& Ekionea, 2015). If leaders purposefully create and nurture the
organizational culture to support knowledge creation, these
8
contradictions are synthesized into awareness, understanding, and
ultimately, knowledge (Rai, 2011). Some aspects of organizational
culture have emerged as most crucial to knowledge management as a
process, allowing it to integrate as an embedded process which is
supported without the need for extra effort. Collaboration, shared
context, and the overall function and process of teamwork emerge as
key aspects to creating an environment in which knowledge grows, is
shared, and opportunities for innovation based on existing knowledge
arise.
Team-bound Culture, Team Interaction, and Knowledge
The group and team aspects of organizational culture are well
understood as crucial to building culture overall. The generation of
shared context, collaborative thinking and goal setting, and the
integration of values and attitudes in the team culture are powerful
drivers in knowledge creation. Logically, the importance of
organizational teams and teamwork is also essential in knowledge
management, stressing that knowledge in the form of data resides more
effectively and accessibly not in computer systems, but knowledge in
the form of intelligence derived from the social systems within the
organization (Turner, Zimmerman, & Allen, 2012). The combination of
these aspects can allow the manager to combine the generation of
knowledge with its capture and technical management in order to
improve overall knowledge building and innovation. Modern day
organizations often use teams as building blocks for creating and
9
institutionalizing new knowledge, taking advantage of the creativity that
can emerge when groups of people pool their own individual
knowledge, as this process can push individuals through many iterations
of an idea (Salas, Cooke, & Rosen, 2008). This generates organizational
knowledge that is then held within the team and shared through natural
interactions, sharing knowledge throughout. Through the simple practice
of supporting teams, organizations and leaders therein can engage in
knowledge management by building teams and fostering relationship
building.
Due to the increasingly complex nature of the modern-day business,
organizational teams are most typically used for specific purposes such
as problem resolution, streamlining of tasks, and development of new
products or processes (Salas et al., 2008; Jain & Jain, 2013). Tasks or
challenges may become too difficult or too large for a single individual,
and the combination of multiple individuals’ knowledge is recognized as
much more powerful. While each member of the team or group may
have very different circumstances, such as varying levels of
responsibility, differing specialties, and even diverse reward or
compensation systems, Turner et al. (2012) insist that the fact of the
common goal or purpose of the group as a whole will still be relevant.
Once this is identified, creation, retention, and transfer of knowledge
can begin and the critical aspects of knowledge management become
clear (Turner et al., 2012).
The concern, then, is maintaining the team interaction and culture once
the specific problem is resolved, or the task accomplished. Rather than
10
creating teams for distinct or individual purposes, maintaining teams
and fostering an environment that supports and even relies on teamwork
as a regular function will enhance knowledge creation and management
over time. If teams are maintained, communication and innovation occur
on both horizontal and vertical levels as described by Jain and Jain
(2013) and value can be recognized not just in top-level thinking, but
throughout the organization and its members.
Transactive Memory Systems through Team Interactions
In addition to a flow of knowledge that moves in all directions,
organizations which rely on a team bound culture more often develop a
transactive memory system, which broadens the flow of information
further. Members from one team to another can capture and organize
knowledge as they anticipate tasks and outcomes through a sharing of
knowledge not just within teams, but among them (Burtscher, Kolbe,
Wacker, & Manser, 2011). One way Burscher et al. (2011) describe
which will allow managers to encourage this behavior is through team
monitoring systems, which interlinks teams through assessments and
measures. A team may have its own goals and objectives, while yet
another team may be formed which plays a role in measuring the
outcomes or output of the initial team, in addition to undertaking other
objectives of its own. This process opens communication and allows
knowledge to be shared even more readily among an even broader
number of organizational members.
11
Virtual teams are especially common in contemporary business and
offer an excellent opportunity to encourage a transactive memory
system in an organization. Because of the need to rely so heavily on
technology, the complexity of this team environment can be even more
extreme, making the need to create new knowledge and manage it in an
accessible way even more crucial. Creating an interrelated system
wherein teams come into communication with other teams, especially
across vast geographical distances, provides even greater opportunity for
knowledge creation and management.
Interrelated systems also address the concern of tacit versus explicit
knowledge sharing and management. Explicit knowledge is most often
codified and massive amounts of organizational resources may be
invested in technology and electronic systems in an attempt to maintain
it and make it accessible (Choi, Lee, & Yoo, 2010). Transactive
memory systems may be valuable to some extent there as members can
learn from one another how, why, and when to access knowledge of this
type. However, the real value of interrelationships and transactive
memory is found in the creation, sharing, and management of tacit
knowledge which is logically much more difficult to store outside of the
organizational members themselves. If an appropriate organizational
culture based in teams and sharing is created, an ease of tacit knowledge
sharing arises that becomes embedded in the processes and interactions
on a cultural level but is very difficult to replicate outside of the
organization (Choi et al., 2010; Jasimuddin & Zhang, 2014). This is a
key consideration, as it enhances organizational outcomes and
12
competitive advantage, while also reducing the need for additional
resources to attempt to sort, codify, and share knowledge which is better
translated through interaction.
Conclusion
The inter-connectedness of a team culture and the ability to create,
share, and manage knowledge on an organizational level is clear;
emphasizing team-building and teamwork should clearly be a key
component of organizational culture as a means to enhance knowledge
management overall. In essence, placing the responsibility for
knowledge creation and management almost solely in the realm of the
organizational culture and, more specifically, in the hands of
organizational members as they function in teams provides foundational
support for creating, sharing, and managing knowledge.
Prioritizing interaction, reaction, and transactive memory systems
among groups and individuals as a means to foster innovation and
generate knowledge creation ultimately leads to knowledge management
becoming embedded in the culture as a natural process rather than a
separate consideration or task. This not only has the potential to save
organizations from investing enormous resources into knowledge
management, it also provides a greater level of agility and adaptability.
Individuals, adjusting and adapting to change, organizational need or
internal or external influence can integrate each of these much more
quickly than a collective.
13
Knowledge management must be considered outside of an
organization’s internet technology and information systems departments
as intensively as within them. The process of creating and sharing can
become a collective endeavor and innovation as knowledge is shared,
processed, and further enhanced by the inclusion of more and more
individuals when teams are emphasized. There is an important
understanding among leadership studies that organizational culture and
team-bound culture in the workplace support a wide range of positive
outcomes, and by including the importance of knowledge sharing and
management as an embedded and natural process of both, knowledge is
maximized and leveraged to enhance outcomes both internal and
external to the
organization.
14
References
Burtscher, M., Kolbe, M., Wacker, J., and Manser, T. (2011).
Interactions of team mental models and monitoring behaviors
predict team performance in simulated anesthesia inductions.
Journal of Experimental Psychology, 17(3). 257-269.
Choi SY, Lee H and Yoo Y (2010). The impact of information
technology and transactive memory systems on knowledge sharing,
application, and team performance: A field study. MIS
Quarterly 34 (4): 855-870.
Fillion, G., Koffi, V., & Ekionea, J. B. (2015). Peter Senge’s learning
organization: A critical view and the addition of some new concepts
to actualize theory and practice. Journal Of Organizational Culture,
Communications & Conflict, 19(3), 73-102.
Jain, A. K., & Jain, S. (2013). Understanding organizational culture and
leadership Enhance efficiency and productivity. Pranjana: The
Journal Of Management Awareness, 16(2), 43-53.
Jasimuddin, S. M., & Zhang, Z. (2014). Knowledge management
strategy and organizational culture. The Journal of the Operational
Research Society, 65(10), 1490-1500.
Lopez, S. Peon, J., and Ordas, C. (2004). Managing knowledge: The
link between culture and organizational learning. Journal of
Knowledge Management, 8(6). 93-104.
Mojibi, T., Hosseinzadeh, S., & Khojasteh, Y. (2015). Organizational
culture and its relationship with knowledge management strategy: A case
study. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 13(3), 281-288.
Nejatian, M., Najati, M., Zarei, M., & Soltani, S. (2013). Critical
enablers for knowledge creation process: Synthesizing the
literature. Global Business and Management Research,
5(2/3). 105-119.
Rai, R. (2011). Knowledge management and organizational culture:
A theoretical integrative framework. Journal of Knowledge
Management, 15(5). 779-801.
Rastogi, P. (2000). Knowledge management and intellectual capital: The
new virtuous reality of competitiveness. Human Systems
Management, 19(1). 19-49.
Ringel-Bickelmaier, C. & Ringel, M. (2010). Knowledge management
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in international organizations. Journal of Knowledge Management,
14(4). 524-539.
Salas, E., Cooke, N., & Rosen, M. (2008). On teams, teamwork, and
team performance: Discoveries and developments. The Journal of
the Human Factors and Ergonomics
Society, 50(3). 540-547.
Senge, P.M. (1990). The leader’s New York: Building learning
organizations. Sloan Management Review, Fall, 7-23.
Turner, J., Zimmerman, T., & Allen, J. (2012). Teams as sub-processes
for knowledge management. Journal of Knowledge Management,
16(6). 963-977.
16
An Exploration of Millennials
“Attitudinal and Behavioral Differences”
Dr. Joseph Heinzman, Jr.
jheinzman@southuniversity.edu
Dr. Jose R. Perez, Jr.
jrperez@southuniversity.edu
South University
4401 North Himes Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33614
Abstract
Research has focused on the Boomer generation throughout the latter
part of the 20
th
century and early 21
st
century. Limited studies have been
done on the millennial generation and the X generation has for the most
part been ignored. This study gathers research results based on the
Millennials in an effort to examine the attitudinal and behavioral
differences between the Millennials and the Boomers with little focus on
the Xers. The results indicate that the proposed research model is, for
the most part, supported and that the generational variances occur at the
values and characteristics levels and not at the independent/dependent
variable level with the exception of the millennial treatment of
attitudinal organizational commitment. In conclusion, there are
management actions required to plan for the value and characteristic
variances.
Keywords: Job satisfaction, turnover, organizational commitment,
employee engagement
The behavioral characteristics and relationships of the Boomers
such as job satisfaction, organizational behavior, intention to quit,
motivational aspects, morale, etc. are well researched and documented.
These behaviors were based on a set of beliefs and values that produced
predictable behaviors based on the research such as job satisfaction
17
predicting organizational behavior; job satisfaction being inversely
related to the intention to quit, respect for authority, trust in leadership,
loyalty to the organization, etc. The following model is expected based
on boomer and Xer based research (Tett & Meyer, 1993).
Figure 1
This begs the question of how the Millennials behave toward
these kinds of variables based on their value set and the predictions and
variable relationships affected by these beliefs and values. This paper
seeks to explore how the variables that were predictable under the
boomer generation might behave differently under the millennial
generation.
Literature Review
The landscape within the workplace is changing. For the first time
in modern history, we have four generations (Veterans, Baby Boomers,
Generation X, and Millennials) represented in the workplace (Zemke,
Job
Satisfaction
Organizational
Commitment
Turnover Intention
/ withdrawal
cognition
Turnover
18
Raines, & Filipczak, 2000). The interactions and diversity among these
age groups may have an impact on how leaders interact with these
different generations of people in the workplace (Sullivan, Forret,
Carraher, & Maineriero, 2009). For example, each generational age
group has distinctive characteristics that influence their attitudes and
interactions in the workplace (Eisner, 2005). The ability to keep each
generational age group within the workplace happy will require a unique
understanding of each group’s characteristics and values, according to
Kaplan and Taoka (2005). While the behavioral characteristics of the
boomer generation such as job satisfaction, motivational attributes, and
other behavioral variables have been extensively researched and
documented, there is little empirical research about how Millennials
respond to these kinds of variables in the workplace. By understanding
the characteristics and values of the millennial generation and who they
are as a group, organizational leaders can adapt their leadership style to
accommodate and engage them in the workplace as followers with
hopes of developing them into future leaders (Burkus, 2010).
Values and Characteristics
It is important to understand the value system of the millennial
generation because it is a primary underlying factor for understanding
this group’s attitudes and behavior in the workplace (Greenwood,
Gibson, & Murphy, 2008). According to England (1967), an
individual’s value system is defined as “A relatively permanent
perceptual framework which shapes and influences the general nature of
19
an individual’s behavior (p.54). In a study conducted by Greenwood,
Gibson, and Murphy (2008), which compared terminal values (values a
person aspires to) and instrumental values (modes of conduct) between
Millennials and Boomers, the researchers found that Millennials ranked
the terminal values of an exciting life, a sense of accomplishment,
equality, social recognition and true friendship as considerably more
important than Baby Boomers. The instrumental values of the
ambitious, broadminded, clean/green environment, helpful, independent
and self-control were considerably more important to Millennials than
Boomers.
Conversely, Boomers ranked the terminal values of comfortable
life, a world at peace, health, salvation, and wisdom considerably higher
than Millennials, and the instrumental values that ranked considerably
higher for Boomers than Millennials were capable, courageous,
forgiving, honest, and responsible (Greenwood et al., 2008). In addition
to these terminal and instrumental values, Millennials grew up
accustomed to the digital age and tend to be more comfortable with
digital technologies than previous generations. They also saw their
parents adversely affected by high divorce rates and corporate layoffs,
which resulted in their unwillingness to make long-term commitments
and demand greater flexibility when it comes to the workplace and their
careers (Dwyer, 2009). According to Kaifi, Nafei, Khanfar, and Kaifi
(2012), this generation tends to desire collective decision-making,
working in groups, involvement in meaningful work, and are more
socially conscious, although they can be considered more opinionated
20
than previous generations. These differences in generational values
create a generational gap that leaders must understand in order to
effectively lead Millennials in the workplace (Greenwood et al., 2008).
The first value that will be explored is Work-Life Balance followed by
job satisfaction, organizational commitment, intention to quit, and
leadership.
Work-life balance
Organizational leaders working in today's multigenerational
workplace are faced with various challenges. One of the main
differences between the generations is motivation. For example, while
older Boomers are interested in job security and benefits, Millennials are
much more interested in balancing their careers with their personal lives
(Dwyer, 2009). In fact, according to Ng, Lyons, and Schwetzer (2010),
Millennials are more inclined to negotiate and demand a more balanced
work-life at every stage of their career development. This will require
organizational leaders to focus more attention on the work-life balance
expectations demanded by Millennials, which will become more critical
as younger Millennials enter the workplace and begin their careers,
according to Gilley, Waddell, Hall, Jackson, and Gilley (2015).
Work-life balance has different meanings between the different
generational age groups within the workplace, Work-life balance has
also been defined many ways, but is typically understood to mean how
employees choose to prioritize their careers, family and other
commitments outside of the workplace. Research has shown that
21
creating a work-life balance for employees promotes overall job
satisfaction, increased productivity, and reduces employee turnover.
Therefore, Organizational leaders need to be aware of the options
available to their employees for creating work-life balance because
failing to understand the wants and needs of multiple generations in the
workplace can result in work-life conflicts between employees and
organizational leaders, which can prove to be challenging to leaders
(Gilley et al., 2015).
Flexible work schedules and the ability to continue working part-
time are allowing Boomers to remain longer in the workplace to meet
their financial needs or to find meaning in their lives, according to
Eversole, Venneberg, and Crowder (2012). This is one example of how
work-life balance can meet the needs of employees. However, the desire
from Millennials to seek careers that offer workplace balance are
beginning to receive attention. One survey, for example, discovered that
college business students were seeking employers that were more
flexible in providing a workplace where they could balance their careers
with other interests and commitments in order to help them experience
greater career satisfaction (Smith, 2010). Since Millennials have seen
firsthand the challenges and frustrations their parents experienced both
professionally and personally, they are less willing to forgo their
personal lives for their careers. As a result, they are demanding more
flexibility from employers (Gilley et al., 2015). Recognizing the
demands for a greater balanced work-life from Millennials will help
organizational leaders create an environment whereby Millennials can
22
grow and develop into the next generation of leaders.
Job Satisfaction
Job satisfaction is the affective feeling that individuals have toward
the work that they perform in the context of their job characteristics
(Williams & Hazer, 1986). Job satisfaction can be described as an
attitude reflecting how much an individual likes or dislikes their job
(Bruck, et al, 2002). In 1954 the primary determinant or factor
attributable to job satisfaction were wages that had two functions i.e. to
allocate human resources and to provide the incentive to work or
motivation (Gitlow, 1954). Historically, the facets or components of job
satisfaction were expressed as, feelings toward co-workers, benefits, the
job conditions, the job/work itself, policies and procedures, pay, and
supervision (Bruck et al, 2002).
Job satisfaction and engagement
The Society for Human
Resource Management (SHRM), Employee Job Satisfaction and
Engagement research report listed 30 aspects of job satisfaction and
engagement based on a study of 600 employees (SHRM Engagement,
2015, p9.). Listed in rank order of importance:
Millennials were the main drivers influencing the importance of career
development opportunities, career advancement opportunities,
networking opportunities, organization’s commitment to a diverse and
inclusive workforce, and the organization’s commitment to a “green”
workforce” (SHRM engagement,2015, p42).
23
Table 1. Employee job satisfaction and engagement
Importance
Aspect
72%
Respectful treatment of all employees at all levels (1)
64%
Trust between employees and senior management (2)
63%
Benefits, overall (3)
61%
Compensation/pay, overall (4)
59%
Job security (5)
58%
Relationship with immediate supervisor (6)
58%
Opportunities to use your skills and abilities in your work
(6)
56%
Immediate supervisor’s respect for my ideas (7)
55%
Organization’s financial stability (8)
55%
Management’s recognition of employee job performance
(8)
55%
Communication between employees and senior
management (8)
53%
Feeling safe in your work environment (9)
52%
Management’s communication of organization’s goals and
strategies (10)
50%
The work itself (11)
48%
Overall corporate culture (12)
47%
Career advancement opportunities within the organization
(13)
24
47%
Autonomy and independence (13)
46%
Meaningfulness of job (14)
44%
Relationships with co-workers (15)
43%
Teamwork within department/business unit (16)
42%
Organization’s commitment to professional development
(17)
41%
Teamwork between departments/business units (18)
41%
Job-specific training (18)
41%
Communications between departments/business units (18)
39%
Career development opportunities (19)
38%
Contribution of work to organization’s business goals (20)
37%
Variety of Work (21)
33%
Networking opportunities (22)
31%
Company-paid general training (23)
31%
Organization’s commitment to corporate social
responsibility (23)
29%
Organization’s commitment to a diverse and inclusive
workforce (24)
20%
Organization’s commitment to a “green” workplace (25)
Note: Table created from data obtained from the Society of Human
Research Management’s 2015 job satisfaction and engagement report.
The most significant differences between the Boomers and the
Millennials and Generation X in the top five employee engagement
25
opinions is the feeling that employees “are encouraged to take action
when they see a problem” and that they are “provided with the resources
to do my job well”. (SHRM engagement, 2015, p53).
The respondents in the SHRM engagement study (2015) were 26%
Millennial, 37% Xers, 35% Boomer, and 2% Veterans. The number of
Millennials had a significant weighting so that the overall statistics are
greatly influenced by the Millennials. Millennials indicated a higher
level of a feeling of engagement associated with career advancement
opportunities than older generations (SHRM engagement, 2015).
Emotion regulation, entitlement mentality, and job satisfaction
Emotion regulation is based on emotional dissonance or the
difference between the outward display of emotion and the internal
feelings of emotions. This difference and the management of this
difference results in emotional regulation which results in a
psychologically taxing state. Studies have supported high levels of
emotional discord associated with emotional dissonance. The literature
also supports that the suppression of unpleasant emotions decreases job
satisfaction (Cote & Morgan, 2002).
Employee social interaction during displays of emotional reaction
influences and solicits a response from other participants in social
interaction. In situations where there is positive reinforcement in terms
of emotional support from participants in the situation, the literature
supports a favorable response. This favorable response results in the
26
amplification of pleasant emotions thus increasing job satisfaction.
(Cote and Morgan, 2002).
The Cote and Morgan study (2002) was conducted on 111
Millennials born in the late 1990’s and supported both of the following
hypotheses (p949).
“Hypothesis 1: The suppression of unpleasant emotions decreases job
satisfaction.”
“Hypothesis 3: The amplification of pleasant emotions increases job
satisfaction.”
This study provided a foundation for illuminating the unique emotional
relationship of Millennials in emotion regulation and social interaction.
According to Alexander and Sysko (2012), Millennials exhibit a
level of hedonism, narcissism, and a cavalier work ethic never
experienced in the history of the US workforce. Millennials are willing
to work hard, embrace a corporate vision, and bond with their
immediate manager somewhat offset by ambiguous attitudes. College
professors have observed a lack of drive, motivation, and accountability
by Millennials who believe that they should be rewarded with good
grades just for making it to class. They show a lack of regard for the
validity of the source of materials used in research and an affinity to
believe in peer opinion and public media. They suffer from a perceived
lack of original thought. (Alexander & Sysko, 2012).
27
These psychodynamics are based on the “trophies for all” mentality
of their parents when in competitive situations which creates unrealistic
expectations. Overly protective parenting helped to produce Millennials
who are risk averse and have a fear of ambiguity (Alexander & Sysko,
2012).
The attitudes and emotional states of Millennials lead to a
psychological feeling of entitlement which leads to a desire for short
term goals and an effort to demand respect. This and other data in the
literature make the Millennials twice as likely to leave the workplace
within a year of starting employment.
Job satisfaction and intention to quit
The literature suggests a keen propensity for the millennial
generation to leave an organization based on a short term tenure
mindset. How job satisfaction affects this intention to quit propensity
deserves attention.
Generally, factors affecting job satisfaction are age, coping
strategies, experience, and educational levels. Factors in a study of a
cadre of nurses averaging age 35 +/- 10, showed requiring to do more
than can be done well and inadequate help ranked negatively on job
satisfaction while the ability to act independently of the supervisor
ranked positively toward job satisfaction. (Unruh & Zhang, 2014).
These elements are somewhat offset based on the literature supporting
the entitlement mentality of the Millennials and their short-term tenure
28
perspective.
A study based on a cadre of employees from 10 diverse firms with
an average age of 33 found support for the following hypothesis
(Frenkel, Sanders, & Bednall, 2013, p12):
“Hypothesis 1: The extent of agreement between senior management
and line management as perceived by employees regarding their
treatment is positively related to employees’ job satisfaction (H1a), and
negatively related to employees’ intention to quit (H1b).” This
hypothesis supports the previously discussed propensity for Millennials
to be close to their immediate managers (Alexander & Sysko, 2012).
Employees’ interactions affect job satisfaction according to social
interaction models. This is supported by the following hypothesis (Cote
& Morgan, 2002, p949).
“Hypothesis 3: The amplification of pleasant emotions increases job
satisfaction.”
The end result is an increase in job performance and a lessening of
intention to quit plus an increase in performance outcomes.
The SHRM Engagement Report (2015) found that the Millennials
favor flexible work arrangements as a job satisfier more so than older
generations. This flexible work environment can be seen as a
differentiator in attracting high potentials employees. Better than half of
all organizations surveyed by SHRM offered flexible work options
29
(SHRM engagement, 2015).
It is clear that there are identifiable differences in behavioral
responses between the generations and that the changes in job
satisfaction and engagement need to be explored in terms of the
relationship to organizational commitment
Organizational Commitment
Organizational commitment is an attitudinal or behavioral
attachment that exists between an individual and an organization that
makes it less likely that an individual will leave an organization. (Ali,
2015). Attitudinal commitment deals with the cognitive connection of
how people feel about the organization based on observed antecedents.
Behavioral commitment relates to the process by which individuals
connect to an organization and how they behave under these conditions.
(Meyer & Allen, 1997).
Meyer and Allen (1997) defined a three-component model of
commitment containing affective, continuance, and normative
commitment. Affective commitment deals with the emotional
attachment, identification with and participation in the organization.
Continuance commitment deals with the cost of leaving an organization
and normative commitment deals with an employee’s feeling of
obligation to remain with an organization. Continuance commitment is
further divided into a feeling that there is a lack of alternative job
solutions available to the individual and a propensity to want to keep
side-bets that have built up over a length of time (Ali, 2015).
30
This paper focuses on affective commitment or attitudinal
commitment which looks at behavioral aspects more so than
continuance or normative commitment. There is literature that supports
the Millennials as lacking organizational commitment in favor of a
loyalty or commitment to their individual managers. Executives and
middle managers are typically of the Boomer or X generation and have
difficulty relating to the attitudes of the Millennials. The Millennials
tend to be aloof, narcissistic, and having a cavalier work ethic
(Alexander & Sysko, 2012).
There has been meta-analytical research indicating a weak but
existent trend of older generations having higher levels of affective
organizational commitment than younger generations (Costenza et. al,
2012). Boomers have slightly higher affective commitment and lower
intention to quit than Millennials (Costanza, et al, 2012). Millennials
have a higher preference than older generations for a “green” workplace
which is found to be related to organizational commitment making a
“green workplace” a probable factor in attracting high potential
Millennial’ employees (SHRM engagement, 2015).
Leadership Styles and Preferences
While research has been able to show that Millennials demonstrate
different attitudes and beliefs compared to earlier generations in the
workplace, their leadership and followership styles and preferences have
been less examined by researchers. Understanding their leadership styles
and preferences may help to provide valuable insight for creating a
31
workplace environment whereby leadership effectiveness can be
maximized (Chou, 2012). According to Howe and Strauss (2000), the
Millennials possess the ability to be great leaders and they reflect some
of the similar characteristics displayed by great leaders in earlier
generations. They are hardworking, socially focused, and visionary.
However, they are susceptible to a sense of entitlement and expectations
which are often impracticable, which may render them as ineffective
leaders (Underwood, 2007).
According to Chou (2012), Millennials have been shown to exhibit
an inclusive leadership style where the value of instant feedback is
appreciated. They also have a strong sense of self-esteem, confidence
and external locus of control. Additionally, they are willing to
communicate and share information willingly. Thus, Millennials are
most likely to exhibit “high levels of participative leadership style in the
workplace” (p.75). Chou adds that Millennials will make excellent
followers because they openly express their opinions and beliefs and are
more likely to engage their leaders in critical thinking, which are critical
factors in helping their organizations to succeed. Since Millennials are
confident and assertive, Bjugstade, Thach, Thompson, and Morris
(2006) also suggest that a delegating leadership style be used with
Millennials followers.
Millennials have a preference for certain leadership styles as well.
In a research study designed to identify the leadership preferences of
Millennials, Dulin (2008), found that Millennials desire leaders who are
actively involved with the organization and its members. They also
32
prefer leaders who really listen to them and value their opinions.
Millennials seek leaders that will be mentors or leaders that will connect
them with mentors they can trust. Additionally, Millennials wish to be
heard and demand that leaders make decisions that also consider their
needs. According to leader-member exchange (LMX) theory, the quality
of the relationship between a leader and follower has a strong influence
on leadership effectiveness (Dansereau, et al, 1975). Therefore,
organizations should strive to match their leader’s styles to their
followers’ leadership preferences (Chou, 2012).
Analysis
The model illustrated in Figure 1 is generally supported by the
literature in this paper with one significant difference i.e. Millennials
tend to be committed to their immediate manager more so than the
organization itself. The implications of this one major difference are
related to retention as influenced by the quit intentions of the immediate
manager and the impact of the immediate manager’s departure from the
organization. The modified model includes this modified managerial
commitment factor and the term is changed to Commitment to the
Manager. With four generations in the workforce, three of the
generations are committed to the organization while the other negation
i.e. the Millennials are committed to the manager and not strongly
bonded to the organization itself. This commitment differentiation
creates a notable and potential point of conflict between the generations
and provides a divergent generational view of the organization itself.
The model demonstrates organizational fit overall; however,
33
generational differences in values and characteristics set the Millennials
apart from the other three generations in the workforce.
Values and characteristics partially define the attitudinal and
behavioral differences between the Millennials and other generations.
Table 2 addresses values and characteristics differences.
Figure 1
Table 2. General values and characteristics among generational groups
Values/
Characteristics
Value/Characteristic
Millennial Perception
Terminal Value
Exciting Life
Higher than Boomers
Terminal Value
Sense of Accomplishment
Higher than Boomers
Terminal Value
Sense of Equality
Higher than Boomers
Terminal Value
Social Recognition
Higher than Boomers
Terminal Value
True Friendship
Higher than Boomers
Terminal Value
Respectful treatment of all
employees
Preference greater than
other generations
Terminal Value
Trust between employees and
senior management
Preference greater than
other generations
Job Satisfaction
Commitment to
the Manager
Turnover Intention /
withdrawal cognition
Turnover
34
Terminal Value
Long-term Commitments
Less likely than other
generations
Terminal Value
Involvement in Meaningful Work
Preference greater than
other generations
Terminal Value
Socially Conscious
Preference greater than
other generations
Instrumental
Values
Greater Flexibility
Higher than other
generations
Instrumental
Values
Collective Decision-Making
Preference greater than
other generations
Instrumental
Values
Working in Groups
Preference greater than
other generations
Instrumental
Values
Ambitious
More important than
Boomers
Instrumental
Values
Broadminded
More important than
Boomers
Instrumental
Values
Clean/Green Environment
More important than
Boomers
Instrumental
Values
Helpful
More important than
Boomers
Instrumental
Values
Independent
More important than
Boomers
Instrumental
Values
Self-Control
More important than
Boomers
Instrumental
Values
More opinionated
Preference greater than
other generations
Environmental
Value
Digital Age
Better Adapted than other
generations
35
Note: Table created from ((Arsenault, P.M. (2003)) and SHRM (2015)
Blank Page….
36
Work-life balance is much more important to Millennials than other
generations which make them more interested in balancing their careers
with their personal lives. Millennials are more inclined than other
generations to negotiate and demand a more balanced work-life at every
stage of career development. This trend toward the importance of work-
life balance will increase as younger Millennials enter the workforce.
Creating work-life balance for employees promotes overall job
satisfaction, increased productivity, and reduced employee turnover.
Recent business graduates are seeking employers that are more flexible
in providing a workplace where they can balance their careers with other
interests and commitments.
Millennials place a high value on career development, career
advancement opportunities, networking opportunities, organizational
commitment to a diverse and inclusive workforce, and a commitment to
a “green” workforce.
Millennials have a conviction that employees feel that they are
“encouraged to take action when they see a problem”, and that they are
“provided with the resources to get their job done. This autonomous
belief sets Millenials apart from Boomers.
From a leadership perspective, the literature in this paper suggest
that turnover and the intention to quit by millennials is associated with
their perceptions of job satisfactions and appear to be linked to their
desire and need to have a much more flexible work-life balance and the
need for social connections more so than other generational groups in
the workplace. They are also more interested in intrinsic rewards.
37
The implications for organizational leaders is the importance of
designing career paths for millennials that focus more on intrinsic
benefits which emphasize social connections and meaningful
contributions to society as a whole rather than those associated with
identifying with the organization. The dyadic relationship between
millennials and leaders should also be more transformational than
transactional as the literature reflects that millennials obtain a higher
sense of satisfaction and self-worth from having a meaningful
relationship between leaders than one that merely involves a give and
take relationship. This supports the findings that millennials prefer to
identify more with leaders whom they can cultivate a meaningful and
mutual relationship than simply trying to identify with an organization
as a whole.
Conclusion
Values and characteristics differences and commitment to the
manager rather than the organization have created a generation requiring
significant adaptation by organizations seeking a competitive advantage
for human resources and resulting higher levels of organizational
performance. There are more than a few differences between the
Millennials and other generations which organizations need to address
in an overarching human resource plan.
Psychodynamics such as the Millennials’ relatively higher levels of
hedonism, narcissism, and a cavalier work ethic will require
management attention and planning to provide performance focus.
38
Millennials have a relatively low regard for the validity of
information provided by organizations and exhibit an affinity for
believing peer input over formal input. Many of these psychodynamics
are based on the “trophies for all” mentality of their parents, learned
feelings of entitlement, and are deeply engrained. Organizations will
need to develop communications plans to guide the Millennials in the
direction that the organization requires in order to have cohesion in the
workforce.
Organizational leaders should also look at the relationships they
form with Millennials in the workplace. Especially, since they seek
more meaning and value from these relationships than other
generational groups in the workplace. Leadership’s styles that support
participation and collaboration in a group setting with shared
responsibilities seem to be more attractive to Millennials. By
understanding the needs of Millennials, organizations will not only
create a cohesive workplace but one that will support their next
generation of leaders.
39
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42
Theories of Meaning and Value in Action
Dr. Joseph Robert Heinzman
robert.heinzman@wgu.edu
Western Governors University
Abstract
The research presents ideas which identify valued derivation from
several theories in various philosophical schools of thought. This
discussion of theories, like core and changing values of traditional
philosophical realm, rationalism, idealism, empiricism, and pragmatism
from the modern era, and existentialism, deconstructionism, social
constructionism, and phenomenology from the postmodern area of
thought, and appreciative environment, identify value theory and apply
these theoretical premises too personal and workplace settings, offering
recommendations where applicable.
Key Words: Modern Philosophy, Post Modern Philosophy, Values,
Appreciative Environment
Theories of Meaning and Value in Action
The philosophy of value has evolved over time. Traditionally, at the
origins of the Bible, the meaning of the word value was often used to
distinguish between good and evil (Dahlgaard, Dahlgaard, & Edgeman,
1998). In modern and postmodern eras, the word value was given a
deeper meaning and there was an “aim of finding an inner truth behind
surface appearance” (Sarup, 1993, p. 131). This empirical discussion
exhibits a comparison between traditional, modern, and postmodern
perspectives regarding the derivation of value in personal and workplace
environments. The purpose here is to attempt to identify methods of
43
success with regard to finding meaning and make suggestions for any
changes that may be needed.
Traditional School of Thought
Core Values
Traditional core values traced back to the Bible and its accounts of
the Noahic Flood and the Tower of Babel reveal a good versus evil
theory of meaning and value. Dahlgaard et al. (1998) stated that “in the
era of our Lord, core values of evilness and wickedness were
systemically applied in the workplace” (p. 51). They opined that the
core values of evil were a manifestation of “gender and ethnic bias,
sexual harassment, intolerance, dishonesty, arrogance, (and)
selfishness…” (p. 51). God intervened to remove the people who were
the source of evilness and wickedness, however, a state of confused
meaning about values remained in their language.
A shared common language did not clearly communicate the
meaning of values that would form a cohesive society. Dahlgaard et al.
(1998) pointed out that the people of Babylon were building, “a
monument to self which they had hoped would weld them together,
rather than to build an organization founded on solid core values” (p.
51). This action of monument building could contribute to the confused
meaning of values that may not have been communicated in their
language. Flanagan, (2002) maintained that we cannot always, “couch
our self-descriptions in language, our selves are not exhaustively
captured in what we can say about them” (p. 220).
44
In today’s workplace environment, values of evilness and
wickedness, confusion of meaning, and language that is not clearly
understood can still be found, although, there appears to be greater
emphasis on fixing these problems. People and firms are implementing
core values like good morals and ethics, fairness, and opportunity to
create a meaningful and successful organization. Starling (1997)
referred to Nietzsche's assertion that employees who embrace the values
and morals established by the leader will find their work meaningful and
will have a commitment of loyalty to their organization.
In an example of value and ethics in the biometrics industry, the
company Safran incorporates a set of cultural values within their
mission statement and vision statement that promotes good ethics,
honesty, fairness, trust, and integrity. Firms are also using mission
statements and vision statements to communicate the meaning of their
goals and objectives. They purposely avoid using technical or industry
terms that could confuse the meaning of its language. For example,
Safran’s vision statement is to continuously improve existing products
and to create new products that will fulfill the changing needs and wants
of the consumer. In combination, their mission statement is to lead the
industry in product speed and accuracy, and customer friendly usability.
These are theoretical statements that translate a clear meaning of the
company’s position to influence a positive response from consumers.
Kuhn (1996) stated that if a person can learn to translate another
person's theories into his or her own language, "it can be an important
(communication) tool for persuasion and for conversion” (p. 202).
45
Changing Values
Traditional values such as one-dimensional leadership, controlling
authority, and keeping operations within a single environment may not
work in today’s globally dependent industries. Dotlich, Cairo, and
Rhinesmith (2009) stated that “globalization, technology, and regulation
are complicating efforts to satisfy the conflicting needs of investors,
customers, and employees” (p. 1). Traditional models of value need to
evolve and be aligned with the requirements of doing business globally.
Today’s leaders should recognize the diverse needs and expectations of
consumers around the globe. Dotlich et al. (2009) maintained that
“leaders who fail to acknowledge and capitalize on the increasing
differences among their employees, customers, and markets run the risk
of losing touch with these key stakeholders” (p. 2).
Leaders today experience multiple cultures, various religions, and
an increasing presence of minority workers from around the world.
Global literacy is a value that can strengthen a firm’s knowledge and
understanding of different people with different backgrounds. Leaders
who make the effort to acquire cultural, economic, social, and
environmental knowledge and information from around the world could
help improve their firms’ abilities to operate globally. Yodanis (2004)
stated how "as with illiteracy in general, being globally illiterate limits a
person's ability to fully understand (meaning), participate, and
succeed in the world" (p. 304).
46
Changing Philosophies
The issue of doing business globally may suggest a change in
values that philosophically supports a coherence of ideology. Lodge
(2009) stated that “the ability of a nation to compete effectively in the
world economy depends to a great extent on its prevailing ideology” (p.
461). Lodge also opined that a nation that practices communitarianism
instead of individualism will be more successful at doing business
globally. He maintained that countries with communitarian values, such
as Japan, are influencing changes in countries with individualism values.
This could suggest a future coherence of values between Asia and the
West.
Safran, a biometrics industry company, is a subsidiary of the
mother company in France. The company conducts business around the
globe and subcontracts work with various countries. They recognize the
value of communitarianism and work coherently with the government of
France when developing competitiveness around the world.
Safran uses this value to develop products that are uniquely
designed to meet the needs and requirements of various countries. This
kind of global effort has made Safran the leading company of biometrics
products.
The only downside is losing the identity of oneself in a
communitarian focus. The danger in not respecting individuality is the
loss of true diversity which drives creativity and innovation.
Communitarian is best left to identifying what norms and ideologies are
47
recognized while focusing on individuality to increase creativity and
innovation.
Modern School of Thought
René Descartes (1596-1650) is regarded as the father of modern
philosophy. His noteworthy contributions extend to mathematics and
physics (Newman, 2008, para. 1).
Rationalism
Rationalism is the adoption of at least one of three claims,
intuition/deduction, innate knowledge, and innate concept thesis
(Markie, 2008). Markie also contended that intuition is rational insight
grasping a proposition to be true in such a way that forms a true,
warranted belief in it. Deduction is the process in which the conclusion
is intuited through valid arguments, in which the premise and the
conclusion must be true.
Innate knowledge is a priori knowledge gained independently of
experience. Innate knowledge is not gained through intuition or
deduction but is part of our nature and represents our rationality. Markie
stated that "others say it is part of our nature through natural selection"
(section 1.1 para. 6). To have knowledge of some truths in a particular
area is to have innate knowledge according to rationalism. The innate
concept thesis is similar to innate knowledge because its premise is that
concepts are not gained from experience.
48
Locke (1690) provides insight into how innate knowledge works
by explaining that the memory brings an idea into the mind from the
consciousness. If the perception comes to the mind without any
experience, they are innate. The further the concept is from experience,
the more plausible it is to claim the concept innate.
Rationalism drives truth as existing within our minds and the
value of truth is not the result of experience. Based on the complexity of
the concept, the concept will affect the value of the truth. An innate
concept is not necessarily truth; it is only perception as we understand
from cultural social backgrounds. Values are clear statements of what is
critically important from a cultural viewpoint. Ethics become the vehicle
for converting values into action or doing the right thing. The virtue of
ethics focuses on integrity and a belief that if the person in question has
good moral character, and genuine motivation and intentions, he or she
are behaving ethically.
Idealism
Idealism is the theory that the nature of reality is created from the
mind or ideas. The external world is said to exist prior to and
independent of knowledge and consciousness. Within idealism, the
approach is to find the highest principles of rational understanding and
provide principles that add to ethics and aesthetics of all domains of
human culture (Kim, 2008).
In line with finding the highest principles is the theory of focusing
on the rights of individuals, deontology. According to deontological
49
theory, people must examine their duties when making a decision. The
deontological approach is created from universal principles such as
honesty, fairness, justice, and respect for persons and property. Rights,
such as the rights to privacy and safety, are also important (Alexander &
Moore, 2008).
Depending on the belief of an individual utilitarianism or
deontology will drive the actions and the moral intensity. Utilitarianism
believes that provided no one is hurt, the decision is ethical. A
deontologist believes strongly in fairness and respect for others. A
utilitarian would be more likely to agree that assisted death of a
terminally ill person is ethical although the deontologist would most
likely believe this to not be fair and disrespectful of the rights of the
person. The meaning of value within each is different when one believes
they are helping while the other believes harm is occurring. In this case,
the value of their ethics causes an action or inaction.
For example, we can examine the practice of drug companies who
provide consulting fees and special incentives to doctors. On the surface,
it seems business as usual. Although when the company begins
requesting the doctor use his or her product the doctor may be inclined
to use the product in order to not lose the fees and other kickbacks. It is
common for doctors to receive very lucrative consulting fees from drug
companies. The problem is a doctor who receives enormous consulting
fees or other financial considerations may lose his or her objectivity in
choosing the best treatment for their patients.
50
Pragmatism
Pragmatism is concerned with practical matters whose meaning is
one who takes a practical approach to problems and is primarily
concerned with the success of his or her actions. Pragmatism is an
outcome of a philosophy that ideas must be tested and re-tested, that
experiences dictate reality. Pragmatists also believe in no absolute truths
or values existing. The feature idea of philosophical pragmatism is that
value in practical purpose, the issue of which works out the majority
successfully somehow provides a standard for the purpose of truth in the
case of statements, appropriateness in the case of actions as well as
value in the case of appraisals.
Though it is by the first of these contexts, the epistemic
apprehension for significance and reality, pragmatism is most
traditionally well-known. (Moser & Vander Nat, 2003).
Charles Saunders Pierce is the founder of pragmatism, he believed in
intrinsic meaning and actions and that humans generate belief through
their consequences of actions (Grattan-Guinness, I., 1994).
In pragmatic theories, truth can be recognized as the good in logic
or inquire about a good or value that seeks knowledge from it and the
means in which to achieve this good or value. Most of the time when
one inquires about the origin of truth or its character we will begin with
a belief of basing truth off of information, or something of significant
value that must be examined or looked at in order to come about that
truth. In pragmatics, truth and the consequences of meaning and value
cannot stray from logic, or consequences of actions.
51
Pragmatism is about practical matters whose meaning is one that
takes a practical approach to problems and is primarily concerned with
the success of his or her actions (Moser & Vander Nat, 2003). Meaning
derives from practical consequences and is the root of knowledge that
truth and the criteria of meaning and value come from (Richmond,
2008).
Empiricism
Empiricism is the philosophical belief that all knowledge develops
from the experience of the senses. Empiricism is the theory anticipated
by philosophers and psychologists that all acquaintance and behavior are
acquired through knowledge and is not at all attributable to instinctive or
innate distinctiveness or traits. The English philosopher John Locke
developed the ideas of empiricism, publishing in 1690 his Essay
Concerning Human considerate. Locke thought that infants are born
having no innate ethical sense, attitudes, or acquaintance in any form.
Locke envisioned the human mind at birth as a blank slate, on which
knowledge will record information (Moser & Vander Nat, 2003).
Disposition is a basis of individual differences in emotions that are
inherent to the individual. Temperament is an inclination that allows two
individuals to observe the same objective event very differently within
the variety of normal behavior as well as development (Rollins, 2007).
The derivation of value and meaning in empiricism is that
experience through the senses is the origin of truth and shapes people’s
meaning and value in life. Empiricism disagrees with pragmatism in the
52
belief of logic and reasoning resulting in one’s truth. An empiricist
would argue that our experiences are not just streams of data but instead
a process that we go through that creates a reality full of meaning and
value considered truth. The derivation of value from the empiricism
philosophy is that humans find meaning through purposes from
experiences that shape values in life and are better able to think critically
with combinations of empiricism. John Locke believed that knowledge,
truth, and value derives from experiences (Moser & Vander Nat, 2003).
Postmodern School of Thought
Postmodernism can be described as various theories that rely on
finding differences, repeating, and insignificant concepts in thought to
shake the foundations of “other concepts such as presence, identity,
historical progress, epistemic certainty, and the univocity of meaning”
(Aylesworth, 2005, para. 1). At the very heart of this theoretical view of
postmodern thought come such philosophies as deconstruction,
existentialism, post-structuralism, phenomenology, and social
constructionism.
Deconstructionism
Deconstructionism as a philosophical style evokes finding
indications of meaning through the evaluation of text. This practice of
stripping the text to its bare root provides much insight into the actual
meaning intended by the authors (Lawlor, 2006).
53
Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction, sought value in
words. According to Lawlor (2006), Derrida was consumed by
paradoxical and refinement of the written and spoken word. One
example comes from a friend employed by state agencies, which used
the letter of the law to rule on pending neglect and abuse cases, she
knew the need to deconstruct those laws to evoke meaning and perhaps
set a precedent for new laws and rulings in court cases.
Derrida used deconstruction to critique structuralism thought, which
was a process through textual and conceptual analysis on how
definitions of fundamental concepts (e.g. true versus false) are
undermined by the process used to determine them. Derrida influenced
Richard Rorty's approach to pragmatism and his distinctive post-
structuralism (Howells, 1999).
Meaning equates to value in deciphering text. Values fluctuate
according to Derrida’s theory along with a path of terms, which give
meaning (Sarup, 1993). Without arriving at case specifics, one case of
neglect may conform to the law and the law thus applies in the ruling,
whereas another suspected neglect case does not, necessitating the
agency to find other examples of neglect or determine the case to be
unfounded, releasing it from court processes.
Each situation was different, and the law had to be broken down
into its various components and each compared against facts in the case
to make a determination. According to Sarup (1993), Derrida contends
that metaphor removes value from language. In a case that states that the
“child was treated like a dog;” this could be very poor treatment, or in
54
some cases, exceptional treatment (some people treat their dogs like
children.) How does one derive proper value from that statement
without investigating? Therefore, once the law is understood, the
allegations too must be deconstructed by finding facts to support them.
Existentialism
Existentialism, whether a bygone cultural phase or a realistic realm
of philosophy, begs many philosophical questions that offer an
explanation of what gives value to individual and human existence
(Crowell, 2008). Value on a personal level may come from family
values, honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness. However, differences are
apparent in the opinion of personal versus collective value in
existentialist theory (Solomon, 2003). Solomon contends that humans
may wonder what it means to be “a human being…like us” and reminds
the reader that “like us” can be anything from being Greek like
Aristotle, Republican, like George Bush, or any other socially
constructed identity.
Post-structuralism
Post-structuralism is a rejection of totalizing, essentialist,
foundationalist concepts and the concept that man developed during the
Enlightenment, and instead, the supporting of the idea that man can only
be defined within the context of culture. Post-structuralism is a late
twentieth century philosophical, literary, and aesthetic theory primarily
associated with Jacques Derrida and his followers. The theory was a
55
reaction against structuralism and was represented in the work of de
Saussure, Levi-Strauss, Lacan, and Barthes (Belsey, 2002, and Sarup,
1993).
Post-structuralists challenged structuralists' assumptions that
systems were self-sufficient and the nature of absolute precise
definitions. Many post-structuralist thinkers such as Derrida, Foucault,
and Kristeva either rejected structuralists' principles or simply reversed
them. Anti-humanism and existentialist phenomenology is also a feature
of post-structuralism (Howells, 1999, and Devos, 1987).
Nietzsche’s argument against the illusion of truth or fixed concepts
of meaning and egalitarianism greatly influenced the post-structuralism's
(Sarup, 1993). Derrida, Foucault, Lyotard and others share an antipathy
to any system and the Hegelian view of meaning and value in history as
progress. They focus on “heterogeneous, diverse, subjective,
spontaneous, relative and fragmentary perspectives” (Sarup, 1993, p.
105).
Rorty's distinctive American post-structuralism, focused on an
attack on foundationalism, as expressed by Descartes, Hume, and Kant.
Unlike Derrida, Rorty did not focus on close text analysis. Rorty argues
that philosophy must surrender as the fountainhead of knowledge. He
attacks the foundationalist approach to claiming systemic knowledge but
supports what he calls edification as represented by Kierkegaard,
Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein (Rorty, 1999, and Guigon & Hiley, 2003).
Many elements of post-structuralism thought in the development of
modern organizations can exist because of a globally interdependent
56
economy, the increasing impact of technology, and a much more
culturally diverse workplace. As a result, organizations and their leaders
today must be more adaptive, flexible, and consider multiple and even
conflicting perspectives when making decisions. Meaning and value in
organizational life has become diverse, many perspectives, which are
reflective of the kinds of products and services available today (Hiefetz,
Grashow, & Linsky, 2009).
Phenomenology
Phenomenology is a philosophical movement, which extended into
sociology and psychiatry. In contrast to a school of philosophy,
phenomenology does not have a body of doctrine to which all
proponents agree; rather it is a broad approach, which views meaning
and value in a non-structural and non-scientific perspective.
Phenomenology has four components: An opposition to naturalism
(including behaviorism in psychology and positivism in social sciences
and philosophy); a focus on socio-historical or cultural aspects and
opposition to reductionism; an opposition to speculative thinking and a
focus on language, urging instead "seeing" or "intuiting"; support for the
technique of reflecting on process within conscious life as objects
present themselves in life; and use of analysis to produce descriptions in
universal terms (Gutting, 2001). In a sense, phenomenology results in a
radical ontological revision of Cartesian dualism (Howells, 1999).
57
Social Constructionism
Social Constructionism and social constructivism are theories of
knowledge that define and describe social phenomena in social contexts.
In constructionist theory, a social construction is a concept or practice
that is the creation or artifact of a particular group (Hacking, 1999, and
Berger & Luckmann, 1987).
Social constructs are not laws from a divine source or nature but
rather by-products of human behavior. Social constructivism examines
how social phenomena are created, institutionalized and made into
traditions, or achieved through interpretative means.
Social constructivism is a sociological construct whereas social
constructionism is a psychological construct. Meaning and value for
social constructionists come from the interpretation of human behavior
in social contexts (Hacking, 1999).
Constructionism emanated from the work of Berger and Luckmann
(1966) that links to the work of Heidegger and Husserl. Constructionist
theory in sociology emphasized that human subjectivity imposed itself
as objective. Modern Harvard psychologist, Steven Pinker (2002) argues
that society has many social constructions that only exist because people
generally agree they do, citing examples such as money and citizenship.
Evidence of social constructionism is evident in modern
organizations in the form of organizational policies regarding the
recruitment of minorities (and affirmative action plans), harassment
policies, and the institution of other "fair" human resources practices.
These things have no origins in universal laws or theories but have
58
developed as a result of social conventions and traditions, and then
become institutionalized (Wheatley et al., 2003). Meaning and Value in
this context is whatever is widely agreed upon within the organizations
and society as a whole.
Appreciative Environment Philosophy (AE)
Appreciative Environment is a concept of refocusing on
individual’s strengths (Heinzman, 2016). Within the AE philosophy, it
is posited that present focus decreases subjectivity by ignoring innate
perceptions. Attribution is created by first impressions, the first
impression is based on visual, oratory, and values are based on our
cultural perceptions. Similar to post-structuralism, it is important to be
adaptive, flexible, and supportive of multiple cultural focuses. Culture is
only one part of who we are, philosophies, values, and norms are
different depending on the innate culture we are raised in.
Culture and philosophical differences drive beliefs and values;
therefore, it is imperative leadership take the time to learn who is in their
employ and what each person values. Leadership needs to focus on the
positive opportunities the diversity of each individual provides to truly
be present and open doors to creativity and innovation.
Conclusion
Perspectives regarding the derivation of value have evolved through
different eras of philosophy. Traditionally, the philosophy of value was
59
focused on a one-dimensional concept of good versus evil. In the
modern era, Value was theorized through rationalism, idealism, and
pragmatism to seek the inner truth of value as an innate ideology. The
postmodern era’s philosophy of value is viewed as a by-product of
human behavior and social constructivism. Moving toward a positive
focus being present provides greater opportunities for businesses to
move into the future with greater opportunities and positive outcomes.
60
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64
Shifting Paradigms for College-Student Placement:
Alternatives to Standardized Testing
Dr. Camille Nelson
camille.nelson@wgu.edu
Western Governors University
Abstract
Standardized tests have been administered primarily to determine
placement of students in college. The problem is that there is currently
no alternative that is being explored or considered by public officials.
Contrary to Frederick Taylor’s beliefs and the Theory of Scientific
Management, standardized testing may not be the “one best way to
measure intelligence or potential” (Cropf, 2008, p. 160). This study
explores the argument for and against standardized tests, whether they
should remain a deciding factor for a potential college student’s
placement, and provides reasonable recommendations for alternatives to
testing based on research and prior studies.
Key Words: Standardized tests, education, college students, assessment.
Shifting Paradigms for College-Student Placement: Alternatives to
Standardized Testing
In early 1999, an aspiring violinist named David Jones*
1
applied for
a full-ride scholarship at the nearby University. David was a senior in
high school and had been playing the violin for over 12 years. He was
considered by many of his music associates and teachers as a prodigy of
his time and a modern-day Paganini. David dreamed of one day touring
1
Names have been changed for academic purposes
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the world touching audiences with his rare and fine talent. David won
several awards throughout his life for compositions that he had written
as well as concertos he had performed. He was also on the honor roll,
elected student class president and awarded music sterling scholar of the
year. However, one of David’s weaknesses was his poor performance
and lack of ability to do well on standardized tests, college entrance
exams in particular. He attended several test-prep courses, which taught
students how to take a four-hour timed test that was supposed to
determine their college potential and placement. David had a little test
anxiety and would tense up when it was time to take the test, as he was
well aware that he was not able to perform well on standardized tests.
David took the American College Test (ACT) three times in order to get
the best score. He knew it was going to be an important factor in his
music scholarship application. David received a below-average score on
the first test. On the morning of the day that he took the test for the
second time, he woke up late and got a traffic ticket on the way to the
testing center, which heightened his anxiety. On the final section of the
test that he took for the third time, he was very fatigued and merely
filled out circles blindly in order to finish within the time restriction. His
third and final score resulted in being the best out of the three, which
was difficult to understand since he merely guessed on one-fourth of the
test questions.
When David applied for the full-ride scholarship at the University,
he was required to play two concerts in front of four judges and school
officials who were to determine his placement and eligibility. After
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David finished both concertos meritoriously, one of the judges made a
comment on his remarkable talent and flawlessness in playing two very
difficult concertos. Another judge, however, noticed his below-average
ACT score and made a comment that he must raise his test score and
take the test once more in order to be considered for a scholarship at the
school. David was very discouraged and studied diligently to take the
test one more time in order to be eligible for the scholarship. By the time
that David studied and took the test one more time, another candidate
had already been awarded the scholarship for which he had applied.
David continued to play violin but eventually switched majors to further
his educational goals.
The example provided is based on a true story of a talented student
who possessed a very specialized skill and became subject to a judgment
based on a standardized assessment used to determine students’
eligibility for college. “Standardization means that the scores of all
students tested can be fairly compared one against the other” (Germain,
1999, p. 3). I have met many students, including David, who struggle
with their performance on standardized tests. Many students who take a
college entrance exam may score significantly well, but may not even be
able to play one single note on the violin. Would we ask a brilliant
mathematician to play a violin concerto? Would we ask a concert pianist
to solve a math problem? Not every subject can be assessed or tested in
a standardized manner as it may require special skills that only a select
few possess. Would previous and world-acclaimed theorists perceived
as geniuses have scored well on college entrance exams? Would we still
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have all the knowledge we have today if inventors and geniuses such as
Einstein had been subject to such standardized tests? These are
rhetorical, yet thought-provoking questions that may be answered by
reviewing the history, purpose, and feasible alternatives to standardized
tests.
History and role of standardized testing
The idea and concept of standardized tests originated from Sir
Francis Galton and Charles Spearman whose ideas of modern mental
measurement and general mental ability were materialized with their
first group of twenty-four people testing achievement in 1924 (as cited
in Hanley, 2006, p. 12). Spearman’s main purpose was that “public
examination on school subjects would be a useful proxy for objectively
measuring one's overall intelligence, and therefore determine one's place
in the social hierarchy” (Hanley, 2006, p. 34). Standardized tests utilize
a multiple-choice technique, which are distributed to a “large group of
students under similar conditions” (Hymes 1991, p. 10). The technique
used is the preferred method due to its “easy administration and grading
process” (Hymes, 1991, p. 10). The tests consist of “content of which
had been selected and checked empirically, for which norms were
established” (Watkins, 1952, p. 5). The tests are “so constructed that the
scoring could be accomplished with a relatively high degree of
objectivity” (Watkins, 1952, p. 5). Hymes (1991) stated that
“standardized tests are labeled objective since the scoring is generally
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done by a machine and is not based upon subjective judgments of
individuals grading the papers” (p. 11).
Standardized tests are primarily used for their “ability to measure a
broad range of outcomes in a cost-effective, time-effective manner”
(Hymes, 1991, p. 9). Alfie Kohn, a nationally acclaimed educational
critic, has written several books on the topic of standardized testing.
Kohn (2000) stated that these tests are “problematic because they
measure mere memorization or even test-taking skills” (p. 51). These
tests do not focus on the most valuable and important qualities of a good
leaner. Educator Bill Ayers provided an insightful list as to what
standardized tests do and do not measure: Standardized tests can’t
measure initiative, creativity, imagination, conceptual thinking,
curiosity, effort, irony, judgment, commitment, nuance, good will,
ethical reflection, or a host of other valuable dispositions and attributes.
What they can measure and count are isolated skills, specific facts, and
functions, the least interesting and least significant aspects of learning.
(as cited in Kohn, 2000, p. 65)
There are several standardized tests administered to students of all
ages but the ones pertaining to this particular study are the two major
college entrance exams: the ACT, developed by ACT, Inc., and the
SAT, developed by Educational Testing Service.
Test publishing companies are mandated to normalize their tests
every 5-7 years. The primary concerns of the test publishing companies
are reliability and validity. These two components are carefully
monitored. The question that is raised with the practice of administering
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standardized tests is whether they are a valid enough means to determine
the future pursuits of education of students. For this very reason, it is
imperative that standardized tests are reliable and valid. Reliability
refers to the construction of the test and how dependable they are in
reporting similar results when taken by similar groups over a period of
time. It is vitally important for the test to be free from errors in its
measurement and construction and measurement.
Therefore, if a test is reliable, it should be able to produce accurate
statistics that will account for the student’s progress (Rees, 2003, p. 67).
It is also important that the tests are administered with similar
instructions and conditions, which include directions, class environment,
and test times in order for the results to be more reliable. Validity refers
to the test taking and what exactly it is measuring, which is a factor that
is more difficult to control and measure. The content of the test needs to
be able to reflect the skills and ability that it is supposed to measure
(Rees, 2003, p. 98). A study such as this will present how standardized
tests are utilized in the school environment and the pros and cons of
standardized testing, which will reveal whether or not there are feasible
alternatives to measure high school student’s college potential and
placement.
Pros of Standardized Testing
The main advantages to standardized testing, which will be
reviewed, are: 1. Cost-Reasonability, 2. Organization and readability, 3.
Equity, and 4. Ease of Administration.
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Cost-Reasonability.
One of the main advantages of standardized tests is their
convenience and cost-effectiveness in determining results. Since these
tests are multiple-choice, they can be put through a Scantron test-scoring
machine, which can correct several tests and determine the results in
seconds. Paul L. Williams is a proponent of standardized tests since they
cost “pennies a pupil and the alternatives are far more expensive” (as
cited in Hymes, 1991, p. 11).
Organization and Readability.
Standardized tests may reveal students’ strengths and weaknesses so
that they know areas needed for improvement. Standardized testing may
cause an alteration in behavior of students, teachers, and administrators.
The behavior changes due to an “increase in motivation, the
incorporation of feedback information on tests, an associated narrowing
of focus on the task at hand, and increases in organizational efficiency,
clarity, or the alignment of standards, curriculum, and instruction”
(Phelps, 2005, p. 57).
Equity
Standardized tests were actually developed to promote test fairness
(Phelps, 2005, p. 21). These tests are considered fair because all of the
students who take them are being asked the same questions and
therefore, have the same or equal chance of resulting in a comparable
score based on the similar circumstances. Students also receive
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preparation to take college entrance exams, which promote and increase
the high school graduate to college graduate ratio in that students are
more likely to apply and attend college. Test preparation classes are also
given in a standardized environment in that all students receive
relatively the same or similar preparatory questions for the test, which
may result in comparable scores. These tests are also timed, which give
no question as to how and when the tests will be finished, graded, and
given back provided with the results.
Ease of Administration
One of the most popular coaching test preparation programs,
Kaplan, was developed by Stanley Kaplan in 1964 in Brooklyn when he
tutored high school students preparing to take the SAT or ACT college
entrance exams. Coaches who review a typical high school curriculum
and administer practice tests that are timed to help and prepare students
for test day direct these Kaplan classes. Teachers in the classroom are
also made aware of these college entrance exams and are encouraged to
introduce or instruct material in such a way that would be helpful for
students to know and remember when taking the SAT or ACT exam.
The SAT and ACT don’t solely follow a multiple-choice format; there is
also an essay that is graded by human educators. The multiple-choice
format of the test is favored not only because of its accuracy and ease
because it enables administrators to “obtain a lot of information about
the examinees’ skill levels in a limited amount of time” (Phelps, 2005,
p. 115). The tests are administered in similar circumstances, which may
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raise the test’s ability to provide consistent results. Officials depend on
its reliability and ability to result in an accurate score. In just a four-hour
period, administrators believe that they can obtain the proof of the
“ability of SAT scores to predict future college grades” (Phelps, 2005, p.
117). However, standardized test scores are not the only component that
college admission officials look at when reviewing potential students.
They also look at the student’s academic history (i.e. grades, essay,
involvement, accomplishments).
In summary of the advantages of standardized tests, they are cost-
effective and it would be too expensive to find a feasible alternative.
The tests are organized and easy to read, which makes it convenient for
college admission officials to interpret and compare the scores.
Standardized tests are equitable in that each student has the same chance
of achieving a good score since the circumstances and content of the test
are the same. Lastly, standardized tests are easy to administer, in that
they are simple to distribute and grade.
Cons of Standardized Tests
There are significantly more cons than pros to standardized testing,
the most important of which are: 1. Capriciousness, 2. Insufficient
method of administration, 3. Bias, 4. Lack of college preparation, and 5.
Insufficient method of bridging educational gaps.
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Capriciousness
Standardized tests may be considered reliable and valid because the
test scores are consistent and support the purpose of testing in that they
“help college admissions officers make decisions about who should be
admitted to their schools” (Phelps, 2005, p. 117). However, tests results
may be ambiguous in that they are standardized and do not consider the
ability of each individual student. For example, what if diets were
standardized and everyone trying to lose weight had to use the same
diet? What if they didn’t lose weight and they had no other option?
Diets may be considered as valid since they measure what they intend to
measure: losing weight. However, not everyone has the same body and
may require a customized program to meet his or her needs. Therefore,
not all diets can be considered reliable. For example, a group of ten
people trying to lose weight were on the same standardized diet and
exercise program. Each person was on the same schedule, had the same
materials, and was weighed in each week at the same time with the same
scale. It could be assumed that each person would experience similar
results since so many of the components are similar. However, there are
other components that need to be considered here since each person has
a unique body type and need for calorie intake and exercise. Everyone
has a different metabolic rate, height, weight, genes, medical history that
should play a factor in the weight-loss process. Just as each person
requires a customized plan for weight loss, each student requires a more
customized assessment to accommodate his or her different learning
style and test-taking ability.
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Improper Assessment of Skills
College officials view standardized test scores as a determining
factor for students’ potential, ability and performance in a school setting.
It has been argued that “admissions and scholarship tests have been
evaluated principally on their ability to predict a student’s grade average
in college or professional school” (Goslin, 1963, p. 93). Teachers label
standardized tests as “arbitrary” and state that “tests may be
standardized, but students are not” (Germain, 1999, p. 6).
Many educators consider standardized tests as unfair, biased, and
arbitrary. Standardized tests merely demonstrate how well a student can
take a test and demonstrate his or her “test-taking skills” (Kohn, 2000, p.
17). The limits of these multiple-choice tests prove that they are not able
to measure “complex cognitive problem-solving skills” (Kohn, 2000, p.
12). The multiple-choice format of the test makes it so that “students are
unable to generate a response; all they do is recognize one by picking it
out of four or five answer provided by someone else…they can’t explain
their reasons for choosing the answer they did” (Kohn, 2000, p.11). One
academic expert stated that a multiple-choice test “does not measure the
same cognitive skills as are measured by similar problems in free-
response form” (as cited in Kohn, 2000, p. 12). Roger Farr stated his
doubt that there is “any way to build a multiple-choice question that
allows students to show what they can do with they know” (as cited in
Kohn, 2000, p. 17). It is important to acknowledge that the SAT and
ACT tests are not entirely comprised of multiple-choice questions as
there is also a required essay associated with the test that is written at the
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end in response to a question and/or statement provided. Kohn (2000)
criticized that these essays also follow a “contrived model rather than
tapping real communication or thinking skills” (p. 12).
Improper Method of Administration
There is also a concern pertaining to how these essays are graded.
Most SAT or ACT essays are not even graded by educators. In interest
of saving money, these essays are “shipped off to a company in North
Carolina where low-paid temp workers spend no more than two to three
minutes reading each one” (Kohn, 2000, p. 12). The graders are also
given incentives to how many essays they could grade in a certain
amount of time, which proves the invalidity of this method of
assessment. One grader who was interviewed revealed that he would
“read a paper every ten seconds” (Kohn, 2000, p. 12). Kohn (2000)
concluded “we can’t assume that an essay test is a valid measure of
important indicators…but we can be reasonably certain that a multiple-
choice test isn’t” (p. 13).
Standardized tests are timed, which may indicate to the student that
it is most important to complete the test within the given time. What if a
doctor were required to meet the constraints of a stopwatch when
performing surgery? What if Einstein had been timed to construct and
refine the theory of relativity? Must education and results be timed?
This can communicate to students that they must memorize and
regurgitate facts in a certain amount of time rather than thinking for
themselves and creating their own theories. It reveals that there is a
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“premium on speed as opposed to thoughtfulness or even thoroughness”
(Kohn, 2000, p. 13).
Bias
Standardized tests assume that all students have acquired the same or
similar knowledge and education. Education varies from school to
school and from teacher to teacher and cannot be considered as a one-
size-fits-all solution. The tests assess a very basic overview of the
material presented to students on the test day. The students can take
several practice tests, but it may be very likely that they will encounter
items for the first time on test day. Examinees may spend hours
memorizing facts and information for the test and forget it all in a matter
of days, which may defeat the “purpose of testing” of “predicting future
college grades” (Phelps, 2005, p. 117). Standardized tests are not an
efficient predicator of future college grades since college curriculum is
not focused on standardized tests and is more concentrated on writing
and critical thinking skills. The tests are not able to measure whether a
student understands the material, as there is nothing more than a bubble
to fill out. Despite the tests quality of standardization, there are limits
that decrease its inherent value. The majority of educators are convinced
of the tests’ inaccuracies because “even when they are scored correctly,
and even when they meet conventional standards for reliability, many
students will be misclassified because of the limits of test accuracy”
(Kohn, 2000, p. 46).
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Lack of College Preparation
Another inherent problem is that students go through three to four
years of high school, learning new material each year and are suddenly
introduced to a test four months before graduation that they must take in
order to apply for college. Students’ senior year is comprised of not only
doing the course work designed for that particular year, but also learning
a new test format that they must learn to take in order to excel in their
academic future. This makes it seem that students’ academic futures
depend primarily on this one score derived from a timed test that is over
in just a few hours on a given day. This does not necessarily help with
college preparation, but merely provides a score that will determine
which scholarship, if any, and to which school they will be accepted. It
would be more meaningful if college preparation played more of a
significant role during senior year and if the students’ teachers were
more involved in the high school to college transition as they are the
ones who are most involved in their educational experience.
Improper method of bridging educational gaps
Years ago, studies and tests indicated that high school students were
ignorant of simple and basic historical facts. In 2002, President Bush
wanted to improve high school students’ historical knowledge. He
declared that “our Founders believed the study of history and citizenship
should be at the core of every American’s education…yet today, our
children have large and disturbing gaps in their knowledge of history”
(Rees, 2003, p. 12). In efforts to improve education and historical
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knowledge, Bush relied on standardized tests. Reese (2003) conducted a
study indicating that nearly one in five high school seniors think that
Germany was an ally of the United States in World War II and twenty-
eight percent of eighth graders do not know the reason why the Civil
War was fought. One-third of fourth graders do not know what it means
to pledge allegiance to the flag. Bush also emphasized the significance
of this folly by stating how “ignorance of American history and civics
weakens our sense of citizenship” (Rees, 2003, p. 51). A supporter of
education who campaigned for higher education and improving test
scores “wondered how employers could be complaining about the skills
of high school graduates when the state’s standardized test scores were
so high” (Hymes, 1991, p. 22). Critics such as Kohn (2004) argued that
we are “sacrificing learning for higher scores” (p. 54). In the 1970s,
there were complaints from some business and industry leaders
claiming, “We are getting high school graduates who have a diploma,
but can’t read or write!” (Cizek, 2007, p. 67). Overall, standardized tests
are not able to measure the ability of students’ critical thinking skills
necessary to become successful and independent citizens. Therefore,
these tests are not reliable sources for making educational policy
decisions on what is best for potential college students and determining
their potential.
In summary of the disadvantages of standardized testing, they are
capricious in that they are not customized to determine the abilities of
each individual. Standardized tests measure test- taking skills instead of
individual talents that each individual has developed over the years. The
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method of grading and administration is too systemized to determine
true ability. The tests are bias in that they do not consider students’
diversity and assume that they all acquire the same knowledge.
Standardized testing is considered high-stakes testing since external
factors such as school funding depend on test scores. The tests do not
prepare students for college in that they just provide a score that will
determine their placement, not any concrete idea or material about the
college experience. Standardized tests do not prepare students for the
real world. They are also not the answer to bridge educational gaps in
that they are not a proper assessment whether or not a student genuinely
understands.
Alternatives to Standardized Testing
The primary alternatives to standardized testing, which will be
reviewed, are: 1. Increased Parent-Teacher Involvement, 2. GPA, 3.
Performance Assessments, 4. Portfolios, 5. Standardized Tests
Adjustment, 6. Interviews, and 7. School Committee.
It may seem that we need standardized tests simply because there is
no alternative method of measuring student achievement and assessing
the quality of education.
Pollard (2002) stated:
In a 1999 Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll of the general public,
respondents were asked which of four methods would provide the most
accurate measure of a public-school student's academic progress
throughout high school. Only 27% of the respondents chose
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standardized test scores. Examples of the students’ work were the first
choice, receiving 33% of the vote. The remainders of responses were
split between letter grades and teacher-written observations. (p. 4)
Ultimately, educators have decided that alternatives to standard tests
must possess the following qualities that: “measure fundamental,
important things in the curriculum, measures more than a narrow, low-
level set of objectives, does not encourage rote teaching of material
covered by the test, and holds schools, in addition to students,
accountable for achievement” (Hymes, 1991, p. 25).
Increased Parent-Teacher Involvement
Kohn (2000) suggested a few alternatives that include increased
parental involvement in high school. For example, parents could receive
periodic written reports of their child's performance from the teacher,
which would be kept on file for college admission boards to view.
Parents could also maintain regular communication or attend a
conference with the teacher with college admission officials present to
evaluate a student’s potential. Parents do not think that tests are the
only way for evaluating their children’s performance.
GPA
The Grade Point Average (GPA) could be more heavily weighted in
substitution of standardized tests. However, there have been criticisms
with the other measures of academic achievement in college such as
GPA that even weaken the validity of standardized tests. A recent study
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found that “college GPA, a linear combination of assigned grades from
different courses, is widely known to be an imperfect measure of student
achievement. This unreliable measure decreases the predictive validity
of college admission tests” (Lei, Bassiri, & Schultz, 2002, p. 2).
Therefore, it is apparent that the GPA measurement for college student
placement is not a good alternative to standardized testing.
Performance Assessments
Cost-effectiveness is a large concern among alternatives since it is so
inexpensive to administer standardized, computer-graded tests. Instead
of pulling more tax dollars to support and administer standardized tests,
that money can instead be used to hire more teachers to support more of
a “hands-on” approach to assessment. It is important to increase the
involvement of the teachers since they are the individuals who are most
involved in the students’ education and learning. “The most skillful
teachers don’t rely very heavily on standardized tests” (Pollard, 2002, p.
9). They observe their students, and communicate with them on a daily
basis. “Good teachers are able to frequently determine, without using
exams, the students’ comprehension level and ability to understand”
(Kohn, 2000, p. 37). Parents might be concerned about whether or not
the teachers’ evaluations are accurate since they are more personal and
not determined by any test. But how can one assume that standardized
tests are any more accurate or credible? Hymes (1991) believed that
performance assessments are great methods for determining accuracy
and whether a student genuinely understands the material. Tests of this
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type, also called authentic assessments because they more closely
resembled challenges of the real world, “differed from traditional
assessment techniques in that they required students to demonstrate
what they know, can do, or were taught, instead of just selecting an
answer somebody else had written” (Hymes, 1991, p. 22). These
assessments are opportunities for students to display or present their
work and for their performance to be evaluated or assessed. An early
advocate of this technique, Richard J. Stiggins, from the Northwest
Regional Education Laboratory, defined these assessments with the
following four components: “(1) a reason for the assessment, (2) a
particular performance to be evaluated, (3) exercises that elicit that
performance, and (4) systematic rating procedures” (as cited in Hymes,
1991, p. 25).
Portfolio
Another alternative can be done in the form of a portfolio. This will
enable students to collect examples of work that they have done over the
course of the year, or over the course of multiple years. Portfolios,
however, may turn out to be the vehicle that carries the banner of
alternative assessments over the long haul. “Even though they are
usually defined as one alternative form of assessment, in reality they call
for a combination of assessments to make a better-informed judgment
on the progress of students” (Hymes, 1991, p. 12). This would give the
student a chance to display his or her individual talents, interests, and
characteristics, something that standardized tests are not able to display.
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This would give the whole process a human touch and feel in that the
portfolios would be viewed by individuals instead of graded by Scantron
machines. According to Edward D. Roeber, some possible performance
measures may include “art, career development, mathematics, music,
reading, writing, and speaking and/or listening” (as cited in Hymes,
1991, p. 27). Robert Lin favored the performance assessments in that
“they facilitate improvements in instruction and learning and conform
more closely to important instructional goals than the traditional
multiple-choice items” (as cited in Hymes, 1991, p. 27).
Standardized Test Adjustment
If we continue to use standardized tests, we should do as much as
possible to make them as meaningful as possible. A few alterations
would have to be made to increase reliability, which include making
sure that the tests are not timed, do not include multiple-choice
questions, and are not norm-referenced, in order to prohibit the scores
from being “compared against those of a so-called norm group/sampling
of students” (Hymes, 1991, p. 10). Test results should be given without
any reference to other students’ scores or a given standard of
achievement. Additionally, certain factors should be taken into
consideration when evaluating tests scores such as low income
communities, lack of resources, language barriers, etc. knowing that
students with different backgrounds achieve different knowledge.
Certainly, it is time for reform and change in the educational system
other than increasing the number of tests and exams.
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Interviews
In addition to the performance assessment, teachers and members of
the admission committee in the program can setup a 20-30 minute
interviews with the student, in order to gauge potential in the program.
A personal one-on-one interview can be able to reveal many important
characteristics and talents, which cannot be identified otherwise or very
clearly on a Scantron answer sheet filled out for a standardized test. The
interviews would have to be used as a supplement as the results of the
interviews would be difficult to determine and compare. Using and
testing other methods could prove or at least put into comparison what
standardized tests are already attempting to produce and how other tests
could potentially assist in providing more validity and reliability.
School Committee
Another potential option I propose is to form a committee at the
beginning of the student’s high school career that would be made up of
three teachers of his or her choice and three teachers chosen by the
school. This committee would meet once a year with the student and
evaluate his or her performance in school as well as extracurricular
activities. The committee would work with the student in developing a
portfolio with the student that could potentially be comprised of
examples of his or her best pieces of work. Some of these pieces could
be based on the students’ talents, expertise, and interests and include
music or art compositions, sport achievements, debate tournament
results, speeches, awards, etc. The portfolio would also include his
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academic summary, citizenship marks, as well as feedback from
teachers. This would motivate students to perform to the best of their
ability as well as to work more cohesively with teachers instead of
fearing or being intimidated by them. This would increase attendance
and promptness in schools since the attendance and timeliness would be
reported in their portfolio. This method would also give the student
something to work on his or her entire high school career. Using this
method would also have potential of preparing students for college and
their future. In the real world, people must provide a resume and
references, both of which students would be equipped with at the end of
high school with their portfolio. Students would also be required to
write a research paper by the end of their senior year, which would be
supervised by a teacher on their committee. Since college work is more
writing intensive, it would be important for students to get some
applicable experience while they are in high school so that they can have
some idea of what to expect. The portfolio would be given a score as
well as an analysis as to provide not only a quantitative measure, but
also a qualitative. This method would get the teachers more involved in
the student’s learning experience instead of having machines and
teachers, who do not even know the students on an individual and
personal basis ultimately decide the students’ educational fate.
In order to increase the two factors that bring the greatest concern,
validity and reliability, there will need to be a way of testing (a pilot)
these alternatives in order to see if another method could prove a more
valid or reliable outcome. In 1990, Vermont focused on performance
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assessments with the focus on student portfolios. They were only used
on a local school or district level and were found to “serve as an
excellent means for teachers and parents to review student progress
especially in areas where tests fall short, however, their use has not yet
been structured enough to become a true accountability measure”
(Hymes, 1991, p. 29).
Conclusion
It can easily be observed from all of the aforementioned options that
there are certainly alternatives to standardized tests. Based on the
research, the following three criteria are the most important and
reasonable when considering alternatives to standardized tests: 1) cost-
effectiveness, 2) minimal student and teacher pressures, and 3) sufficient
assessment of skills and potential. These criteria may judge the
plausibility of the alternative’s application. Among the alternatives, the
committee method meets all of these criteria. It would be cost-effective
in that the teachers on the committee would already be familiar with the
school for ease of implementation. Teachers would be able to contribute
their expertise and individual teaching skills, and the program would be
customized for each student. The committee method would have to be
tested as a pilot program as it would create the most validity and
reliability, one of the largest concerns of standardized test
administrators. The committee method would be valid in serving its
purpose to predict future college grades, as they would be based on their
previous work. It would also exemplify great reliability in that the
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assessment would be performed over a long period of time in order to
perform consistent results. Instead of the funding that is going toward
college preparation classes, testing, and scoring, it can go toward
implementing the committee method in high schools. With the evidence
given about the administering and grading process of standardized tests,
it can be observed and concluded that high school students are being
misled to believe that their intelligence is being identified and quantified
by a number that will be a factor in deciding and determining their
future pursuits in education. Despite the cost-effectiveness of
standardized tests, it is worth pulling money from other areas being
allotted for standardized tests to appropriate for other more effective
options. Alternatives ensure that students could spend more time
thinking about ideas and playing a more active role in learning. “In such
an environment, they’re not only more likely to be engaged with what
they’re doing but also to do it better and provide the schools our
children deserve” (Kohn, 1999, p. 19).
88
References
Cizek, G., Bunch, M. (2007). Standard setting: A guide to establishing
and evaluating performance standards on tests. California: Sage
Publications, Inc.
Goslin, D.(1963). The Search for Ability. Pennsylvania: Russell Sage
Foundation.
Cropf, R. A. (2008). American public administration: Public service for
the 21st century. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.
Germain, B. (1999). Standardized testing: Undermining equity in
education. Ontario: Canadian Teachers’ Federation.
Hanley, D. (2006). The Darwinian Roots of Standardized Testing.
Retrieved from
http://gottsegnet.blogspot.com/2006/07/darwinian-roots-of-
standardized.html
Hymes, D. (1991). The changing face of testing and assessment:
Problems and solutions American. Virginia: Association of
School Administrators.
Kohn, A. (1999). The schools our children deserve: Moving beyond
traditional classrooms and tougher standards. Massachusetts:
Houghton Mifflin Company.
Kohn, A. (2000). The case against standardized testing: Raising the
scores, ruining the school. New York: Heinemann.
Kohn, A. (2004). What does it mean to be well educated: And more
essays on standards, grading, and other follies. Massachusetts:
Beacon Press.
Lei, P., Bassiri, D., Schultz, M. (2001). Alternatives to the grade point
average as a measure of academic achievement in college. Utah:
University of Utah.
Moriarty, F. (2002). The History of Standardized Testing. Retrieved
from http://www.essortment.com/all/standardizedtes_riyw.htm
Phelps, R. (2005). Defending standardized testing. New Jersey:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Pollard, J. (2002). Measuring what matters least. Retrieved from
http://www.standardizedtesting.net/
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Rees, J. (2003). A crisis over Consensus: Standardized testing in
American history and student learning. Retrieved from
http://radicalpedagogy.icaap.org/content/issue5_2/03_rees.html
Watkins, W. (1952). An appraisal of the standardized testing programs
in Utah’s school districts. Utah: University of Utah.
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