Earn PDCs as a Test-Development Volunteer

Write and review exam items, and rack up professional development credits!

By Nancy A. Woolever, MAIS, SHRM-SCP Jan 25, 2018
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​BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front): The SHRM Certification team needs you! I'm not bluffing when I say that certified HR professionals are the most dedicated, passionate group of volunteers I've ever encountered in my decades-long career. Are you looking for a way to give back to the HR community and move the profession forward? Does the chance to contribute your expertise and do something new and challenging resonate with you? Is the idea of expanding your professional network while earning recertification credits intriguing? Do it all at the same time—just get involved! 

We are actively seeking SHRM-certified professionals to volunteer as subject matter experts (SMEs) in a wide variety of test-development activities. When you help develop test items for future SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams, you're helping future generations of test-takers. Through your efforts, they'll be able to demonstrate on their exams that they know HR and how to use their HR knowledge—just as you do on the job every day. E-mail me for more information on how you can volunteer

It's worth repeating: We need you as a SHRM-certified volunteer test-development SME. And you can earn up to half of the professional development credits (PDCs) required to recertify your credential! 

Why Is Test Development So Important? 

Test development—writing and editing potential exam questions and answers, situations, and responses—is one of the most important volunteer endeavors you can participate in as an HR professional. SHRM already relies on literally hundreds of experts to create and review new items for field-testing on future SHRM-CP and SHRM-SCP exams. Our volunteers tell us how much they value this opportunity and enjoy being a part of it. 

Increasing the number of SHRM-certified SMEs involved in each step of the test-development process helps increase the quality and reliability of the exams. The more eyes, ears and brains that are involved and the more feedback that is provided for each test item, the better that test item becomes. Greater expert involvement means greater test integrity and rigor—exactly what SHRM's accrediting body seeks in assessing how well SHRM's processes align with industrywide test-development standards. 

What Makes Your Viewpoint Valuable? 

SHRM certification strives to more accurately represent and reflect the globally diverse composition of the HR profession—its millions of practitioners' diversity of thought, as well as their demographics. Toward that goal, we are looking for volunteers with diverse viewpoints. Who can add value by participating? SHRM-CPs and SHRM-SCPs who work in HR every day in the U.S. and around the globe, in various industries, with various job titles, at various levels of experience. 

Test-development volunteers provide information about workplace situations they witness or are involved in—the critical incidents that constitute the "stuff happens" element of HR—in order to develop realistic test items based on these accounts. Test-takers who encounter these test items have to do the same thing you do when you encounter a situation that requires action: make a judgment; make a decision; implement it; observe the outcome. 

What Are the Nuts and Bolts of This Gig? 

  • SHRM conducts nine in-person and 20 virtual test-development activities per year:
    • One set of activities focuses on developing standalone knowledge items (KI) and foundational knowledge items (FKI).
    • Another set of activities focuses on developing situational judgment items (SJI)—how HR professionals experience, manage, decide on or judge situations every day on the job.
    • Of the in-person activities, one takes place in conjunction with the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition, and the rest take place throughout the year. 
  • KI and FKI test-development activities include writing test items; conducting technical reviews by editing items in virtual small groups; reviewing items for bias and cultural sensitivity issues; suggesting language to fix any anomalies; and validating the content of each item to ensure that it is testing what it is intended to test. 
  • SJI test-development activities include writing critical incidents (an in-person activity conducted at the Annual Conference); editing test items related to scenarios based on these critical incidents; editing possible responses to items; writing additional responses; reviewing items for bias and cultural sensitivity issues; suggesting language to fix any anomalies; and rating the effectiveness of the response options for each item. 
  • Earning PDCs toward recertification:
    • PDCs are awarded upon completion of the work at the end of each project.
    • More credits are awarded for longer projects. The range of credits available is 1 to 10 PDCs, depending on the activity.
    • You can earn a maximum of 30 PDCs under the Advance My Profession category in one three-year recertification period. That's half of the total 60 PDCs required! 

Ready to Take Action? 

I hope so! If you're interested, e-mail me directly at Nancy.Woolever@shrm.org. I'll respond with what you need to get started: a mini "job description" for each test-development activity and information on the potential number of PDCs you can earn as a member of the volunteer test-development team. We'll train you, we'll coach you, and we'll provide whatever support you need to be successful as a SHRM-certified volunteer. The PDCs are an added bonus! 

Nancy A. Woolever, MAIS, SHRM-SCP, is director of exam development for SHRM.

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