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Schmidt To Be Honored for Pioneering Test Research

Frank L. Schmidt, a University of Iowa business professor whose pioneering work in the development of employee aptitude tests led to a revolution in standardized testing practices, will be honored with the Career Achievement Award by the Association of Test Publishers in February.

Schmidt, the Ralph Sheets Professor of Human Resources in the Tippie College of Business, was the co-developer of two data analysis methods in the 1970s that changed the way people thought about standardized tests, particularly as they related to businesses hiring and developing employees.

Schmidt's first major contribution is validity generalization (VG), which uses data analysis methods to test whether conflicting employment test findings are real or simply the result of statistical and measurement artifacts. For years, employers used tests to determine whom to hire, promote, or assign tasks, but the results often varied so widely they were seen as unreliable. Schmidt, however, discovered that if certain variables were accounted for, the test results did not vary widely and were extremely reliable.

Over the years, tests that appeared to produce conflicting conclusions in individual studies were reinterpreted using Schmidt's VG technique and found to be consistently accurate predictors of job performance, changing the way human resources professionals think about selection methods. This has led to changes in employment selection practices in many industries, corporations and government agencies. Through validity generalization, Schmidt and his colleague, the late John Hunter of Michigan State University, have shown that, no matter what the job, general intelligence is the single best predictor of both performance and occupational level attained.

Schmidt's second major contribution to the testing field is his development of meta-analytic methods, which clarify and reveal the meaning of research results that appear, at first, to conflict. These methods have been applied to most major Human Resource research areas. Examples include the relationship between measures of employee attitudes and financial outcomes, as well as a variety of relationships such as employee job satisfaction and job performance, determinants of organizational citizenship behavior and the relationship between work-family conflict and job satisfaction.

During his career, Schmidt has received the highest research awards given by the American Psychological Association, the Society for Industrial/Organizational Psychology and the HR Division of the Academy of Management.

The Association of Test Publishers is a non-profit organization that represents providers of tests and assessment tools and services related to education, employment, certification/licensing or clinical uses. The group will honor Schmidt at its annual conference February 5-7 in Palm Springs, CA.

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