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Peg Hendershot and Kevin
Field, of CareerVision
Civic Caucus, 8301
Creekside Circle #920, Bloomington, MN 55437
May 13, 2010
Verne Johnson (chairman),
David Broden (phone),
Janise Clay, Brittany Gilje (phone), Paul Gilje, Ted Kolderie, Dan Loritz,
Welcome and introductions.
is director of CareerVision, an Illinois-based organization that promotes
a theory of Career Literacy and provides consulting services for
clients of varied ages by providing assessments and guidance on career and
educational decisions. CareerVision is a division of the not for profit
Ball Foundation, established in 1975 to research and develop aptitudes as
they relate to human potential.
Peg has a 20-year track record in workforce issues and community
involvement. These responsibilities included board positions with DuPage
County Workforce Development, the
and Education-to-Careers. Her prior work experience includes program
development and management, training, and career development for
educational districts, consortiums and graduate student education. She has
a Masters degree in Adult Education with a concentration in Career
Development from National-Louis University and a BA from Northern Illinois
is the assessment systems manager for Career Vision. Kevin has had a
leadership role in the development of the computerized version of the Ball
Aptitude Battery and Career Vision's other online assessments. Kevin
contributes to the organization's research efforts, presenting results at
national conferences and a co-author of several professional publications.
His professional experience prior to obtaining his doctorate included 6
years in commercial banking. He obtained his Ph.D. in psychology from the
his MBA from DePaul University, and his BS in Business at Indiana
are connected to the Ball foundation, which drives work on aptitude, a
participant said. And if there's anything the capitol in
stands for, it's human capital. We're concerned about the investment in
human capital. Today we are interested in an idea that has come to our
attention-an organization that has been working very much on human
capital, and how to help people make good choices about how we develop
Peg Hendershot and
Kevin Field are in town for a couple of days for a series of meetings,
including legislators, a former president of the Minneapolis Federation of
Teachers appearance Mid Morning program of Minnesota Public Radio has been
scheduled for May 31st.
people understand their strengths in order to realize their potential
You said at the beginning that the Civic Caucus is interested in Minnesota
being a leading state like you used to be. I'd say you still are. Things
like the forums you're hosting, that we have been invited to over the past
two days-forums that enable you to share ideas without saying you are
either right or wrong. We aren't here to say what's right, but to share
what we're interested in and what we believe.
The Ball Foundation is
an operating foundation interested in helping people define which
environments people are comfortable in, and what they operate well in
where they can experience both success and satisfaction.
The origins of the
foundation go back to 1972. When I got involved in 1992 we were primarily
a research organization. It was a giant think tank. When I came in I
asked, So what are we going to do with this?
Right now our model is
to work with families to help them make good decisions about the student's
next step for post-secondary. There is a pervasive misconception that
we're supposed to be good at everything. Many parents are unaware about
how to help their students with post secondary planning. Career Literacy
model by tapping in to their inherent talents and interests.
At the Ball Foundation
we are dealing with high school aged people and up-my oldest client is 72.
We identified that about the beginning of high school is when the
differences in aptitude begin to mature.
Aptitudes are our
talents and natural abilities. If you have a talent for music but don't
play and instrument, you only have potential. An aptitude is a predictor
of potential. If I have potential in something and I hide it under the
bush, nothing happens. So we want to help students to identify it, and
then enable them to pursue it.
We usually see them
beginning to show up in young adults around grade 8-this is when
differentiation begins to appear in ways that are instructive for
providing a sense about future interests and abilities.
you test for aptitudes?
Aptitude tests are
constructed as work samples-simple tests that everyone is familiar with or
that are somewhat novel. People perform tasks, and they are timed. The
test assesses how quickly the person can learn the basic task. How we
learn, perform, and respond are indicators of aptitude. They are
predictors of potential.
Unlike in school, when
we perform aptitude tests we don't look at a '61' to be a bad grade-but to
be mid-way. If something registers mid-way for a person, it suggests that
it will take them about the same amount of time and energy as most people
to learn to perform tasks that use those aptitudes it may not be their
strongest aptitude-but they do have potential there to be good.
We will give the
students a range of 10 occupations that fit at least aptitude and
interests, often including personality and values. There is a range from
associate's degree to PhD if that's appropriate. We don't care if you pick
one of those, but we say that these fit. The goal is self knowledge and
informed decisions about time and effort to succeed and enjoy the path
Assessments like these
are more utilitarian. They inform choice. In this case - education and
career fit. We also engage in an explanatory and validating discussion
that teaches how and why different careers/ performance environments work.
If we just gave a list of jobs that says this is what you are supposed to
be, the students won't do anything with it-nor will families see it. What
you want to look at when you do an aptitude assessment is what are the
best performance environments, not to limit, but to understand how to make
choices and adapt.
problem is that most people do not have a clear self-perception
What is the problem? Legislators are going to ask first, what's the
problem? Then, what's the goal? And if we know that we can work on 'How'
to get it done.
There are many, many students that do not fit in into the traditional
model-particularly poor students and highly, highly gifted students, but
there are people in the middle that say "I'm nobody, I'm not good at
anything." We try to fit everyone into a production system. The starting
point is understanding potential and fit- for students and staff.
Many students don't
know what they should do. In a large school they may not have had the
chance to be in leadership roles. Or in small schools, they may not have
had full exposure to other talented students- so their self-perception is
influenced by the school they attend and its environment.
Key psychological traits to cultivate are resilience, and the ability to
make informed choices.
Today's workplace has changed more than many people see
Today's workplace is
invisible. We are in an age of "knowledge" work, and when you do knowledge
work students don't realize what's all going on-it all looks the same to
them. Things look boring. They say, "I don't want to work at a desk all
day." But careers that may indeed fascinate them are subject to this
If people know better
who they are, they can develop awareness of their aptitudes through
How do you get "access" to work with students?
We arrived at working
with students because we started working with adults. But we found that
many folks were in poor fit situations, it was hard for someone with a
family and mortgage to do a career shift or start over, even if they
wanted to. They all claimed a desire to have had this aptitude information
earlier. Now we are starting to work with families, to in turn work with
Plumbers use more math than accountants
Plumbers in fact use
more math than do accountants. Accountants use arithmetic, and use
formulas. More and more those formulas are built into computer programs.
Plumbers come upon
unexpected situations. They have to solve problems. Some of these involve
distinct, some angles, some flow-capacity. So plumbers have to be both
resourceful and creative in their application. It would be interesting to
see the kind of test required for a journeyman to become a plumber.
Testing is used as a predictor, not development
Prior to the 1980 the idea of preparing for the ACT and
tests was foreign. As those tests became more important a billion dollar
industry developed. Test prep used to be individualized and expensive, but
has been scaled in such a way that it's now low-cost.
The testing we use
today is designed to predict or measure performance-not to develop
potential. These are two fundamentally different-but related objectives.
Both important. In fact, we'd say that testing without using the
information to inform development doesn't make sense.
When surveys or tests
are conducted to tell a student what career they should pursue, there is
no context, no process to discuss or individually explain, no commitment,
no understanding-and so students see a disconnect.
There are structural
difficulties with a testing-as-development approach-mostly time, staff
capacity and experience. Back in the mid to late 1990's we underwrote
testing of many high schools in our community. I brought high school
counselors up to speed on how to do it. We didn't execute it to the depth
that we do on an individual basis, but the essence was there.
I was skeptical the
counselors would be able to do it-but they really stepped up. They did a
fantastic job. And they liked it. But they came to me at the end of the
year they said they couldn't do it the following year because they don't
have the capacity-they have 15 minutes per student per year to work out
the student's schedules, and that's it. With all the other personal
issues, that's the scope of their duties.
structure of education often suppresses intrinsic motivation
Some students are programmed to do just enough to get into college, then
they go off to college believing that all they need is a college degree to
succeed, so they pursue the easiest college degree. We have lots of
students graduating from college without the skills in technology or
Also, there has been
something called credential inflation. We have in our employer mentality
the ability to put in so many requirements for credentials just to be able
to screen people out.
Identifying aptitudes enables planning-is not tracking
Seems the problem is a serious misallocation of human capital. There would
be both a personal dimension and a professional one.
Right on. Someone brought up last night concern for tracking. But a study
found 50-60 percent of students had a very misaligned perception of their
position or trajectory in the world. Goals are misaligned with their
aptitudes, and even if they're aligned they lack knowledge of the steps
required to get there.
There's no conception of backward planning like a business would do. They
are not acquiring the self-management skills to understand how they should
act and work, and where to allocate their time, energy, and interest.
test needs context to be effective
Would it be possible to put the test online and have it self-administered?
We have a test that is online, but we won't issue a report that has to be
read without assistance. If it is read without someone to provide context,
the general public doesn't have the knowledge or skills to understand it
and apply it to career exploration .The taker and provider need to spend
the time talking about the results. It's the process and the
understanding; talking it through; and mentoring in combination with
excellent assessments that can really improve the opportunity for informed
What abut the Myers Briggs test?
I love any of those tests that start conversation and encourage thinking
about differences in people and environments. But if they are
administered and not given context, it's not seriously considered by the
test taker. To do the Myers Briggs correctly they require sitting down and
walking through it and asking, "does this make sense to you?" No- this is
who you are.
The goal is to get them to consider the information so that they can
pursue additional information on their own.
Systems measure the wrong things
Systems measure the wrong things.
They measure the
systems performance. Ultimately the question is not whether someone
graduates from college (or in how many years or with what debt). Instead
what we need to measure is how successfully our students have transitioned
through the "bigger system " into an independent life. Ask different
questions and you change the process and what is focused on.
Our society places
such importance on college-there are many paths. We need to look at what
type of knowledge and skills prepare for jobs. Clearly science and math
are strong. I have had clients spend over $100K on college
education-spending sometimes 6 years-and not have a clue or be
realistically suited for a career. Partly because they did little
realistic career exploration and partly because we mistakenly see college
as a career goal.
These tremendous inefficiencies have an outlet-student debt. We have a
problem with no advocate, and a solution that has been subsidized by the
government. If you see a chart of student loans you will see a chart that
looks like a classic bubble. This whole thing is built up over 10, 15, 20
years with everyone saying there is no problem, the family of these kids
will take care of it.
Any leadership from the college admissions officers?
We started out with conversations with high school counselors and college
admissions-they resist because it takes time and is not scalable, but also
because they think they're already doing it well. There really is a
science and art to career exploration and planning. It requires learning
and effort. People put more time into planning family vacations than
their career aspirations.
If your only measurement as a college is whether students are employed,
which is principal for many colleges, then you won't spend much attention
on whether the jobs fit the students' aptitudes.
to apply an aptitude-perspective in policy
Stipulate that need to spend more time working on aptitudes. How are we
going to bring that to scale? One example could be to put incentives into
the system, so that people do it. Another could be to tell them to do it,
and pay them to do it. If the aptitudes start showing up around 8th
grade, would you say we stay on the standards up to grade 8, then move to
You're asking the heart of the question that is at why Ted asked us to
come up to Minnesota. At the foundation we're advocating a highly
individualized process, while the school system is often highly
What I'm advocating
for is that schools need to see itself as part of a bigger process. Our
schools at present are isolated, as are boards and policy makers. We need
to take a look at what the purpose is for education, and if the purpose is
to develop ourselves as people, then we need to take time to develop our
potential and who we are as people.
In the way the system
is presently structured there isn't room to do the ideal. Schools need to
be structured in a way so that they're more personalized.
We are working at present with families that are proactive, use their
money wisely and want their kids to be successful and happy. That includes
private and home school, and referral s from other organizations that work
with families-and will work increasingly with schools in the open sector
that encourage self-management. We are convinced that if you can tap the
individual it is more efficient.
Thanks to everyone
for a great meeting.