Course Outline: Applied Personnel Psychology (PSY414)

Course Information

  • Department: Psychology
  • Prepared By: Psychology Department
  • Prepared Date: Fall 2017
  • Course Title: Applied Personnel Psychology
  • Course Code: PSY 414
  • Credits: 3
  • Contact Hours: 45

Course Description

This upper level offering is designed to provide students with the tools for understanding the underlying theory, research and techniques of personnel psychology. It will provide the background for understanding the practical application of the concepts and techniques studied. This will be accomplished through a combination of lectures, group projects involving application of the principles of personnel psychology, group presentations of the projects and classroom exercise.  Prerequisite(s): PSY 331. Credits: 3 (3,0)

  • Prerequisites: PSY 331 Industrial/Organizational Psychology or permission of Department chair.
  • Required For: None
  • Elective For: All curricula with upper level social science elective.
  • Required Text: Cascio, W.F. (1991).  Applied Psychology in Personnel Management.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ., Prentice Hall. (Psy 331 textbook is recommended.  I/O Psychology Textbook, Levy.)

Course Outline

The following represents an overview of the topics to be covered in this course.  Each unit will include relevant theory and current research, and applications.

Unit 1:  The History of Industrial Psychology. 

This unit will provide a general orientation to the course and the field of Industrial Psychology.  The historical progression of the field will be presented beginning with the APA Presidential Address by Bryan in 1904 urging psychologists to research the practical application of psychology in the work world, through psychologists involvement in WWI and WWII, the impact of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and conclude with Industrial Psychology today.

Unit 2:  Industrial Psychology and the Law. 

This unit will provide a general understanding of the rights and obligations of personnel specialists under the law, and in accordance with federal regulatory agencies regarding Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Affirmative Action, the 1991 Civil Rights Act and other relevant Acts and Amendments.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will be discussed as well as particular court cases that have had a significant impact on legal issues in employment today.

Unit 3:  Human Resources Planning. 

This unit will present a systems view of Human Resources planning that suggests the integration of Human Resources issues with organizational strategic planning activities.  Human resource planning activities will be presented and include Personnel Inventories, Human Resources Forecasting, Action Planning for recruitment, selection, career management, etc., and Control and Evaluation procedures.   

Unit 4:  Job Analysis. 

This unit will discuss job analysis as a blueprint and basic building block for all subsequent personnel functions related to a particular job.  Job analysis will be approached from both worker and task-oriented orientations.  Different techniques for conducting job analyses will be presented and include:  interviews and focus groups, questionnaires, log book or diary method, critical incident method, direct observation, and subject matter expert panels.  The validity and reliability of these techniques will be presented along with alternative sources for soliciting information.  

Unit 5:  Criteria:  Definition, Design and Measurement. 

This unit will discuss the concept of criteria and explore the importance of criteria in personnel design and evaluation.  Problems of criteria development and measurement will be addressed including contamination, irrelevance, confounding and reliability.  

Unit 6:  Reliability and Validity:  Measuring and Interpreting Individual Differences. 

Test and measurement theory related to psychological traits will be presented as it applies to personnel selection.  The concepts of reliability and validity will be discussed.  Each of the different types of reliability and validity will be presented as asking different questions of the same measurement technique and each being applicable in different situations.  

Unit 7:  Recruitment and Selection. 

This unit will focus on attracting, selecting, and placing personnel in the organization.  The stages of recruitment and selection will be delineated along with relevant research on different methods of initial screening and selection mechanisms.  The focus will be on both rank and file and managerial staff.  Examples of techniques will include:  realistic job previews, interviews, drug testing, honesty testing, recommendations, and assessment centers.  

Unit 8:  Performance Appraisal:  Development and Use. 

This unit will discuss objective and subjective performance appraisals from an historical perspective.  Research and theory related to scale development, rater training, feedback, measurement, judgmental errors, and performance appraisal as a management development tool will be discussed and conclude with the present status of the field.  Different appraisal techniques will be presented along with the strengths and weaknesses of each.  

Unit 9:  Training Design, Implementation and Evaluation. 

This unit will present research and theory on employee training and suggest the growing importance of training to American corporations and society at large.  A seven-stage training development model will be presented and discussed.  Learning theory, motivation, individual issues, and program evaluation related to training will be highlighted as important for successful training.  Different training techniques will be discussed and include both on and off-site programs.  

Unit 10:  Ethical Issues in Human Resources and Industrial Psychology. 

This unit will conclude the course and focus on the ethics and responsibility of Industrial Psychologists and those in the field of Human Resources Management.  Three major issues will be explored and include employee privacy, testing and evaluation, and organizational research.

Behavioral Objectives

1. The student will demonstrate an understanding of the theory, research, and techniques of Personnel Psychology;

2. The student will demonstrate an understanding of how jobs are developed in organizations and the related personnel functions;

3. The student will demonstrate an understanding of how organizations interact with the law as related to EEO concerns, the 1992 Civil Rights Amendment, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

4. The student will design, develop and validate:

  • a job analysis
  • a performance appraisal
  • a selection procedure, and
  • a training program for an individual job

NOTE: This will be assessed through oral classroom participation, simulations and/or written examinations.