Psychology 3610G-001

Using Psychology to Manage and Measure Employee Work Performance

If there is a discrepancy between the outline posted below and the outline posted on the OWL course website, the latter shall prevail.


A look at the management and measurement of employee work performance through a psychological lens. Topics include the emotionally-charged nature of the social context surrounding work performance; work performance as viewed by the self, versus peers and supervisors; using psychological expertise to improve the fairness and accuracy of performance feedback.


Antirequisite:  Psychology 3690F if taken in 2012/13 or Psychology 4690G if taken in 2013/14.


Antirequisites are courses that overlap sufficiently in content that only one can be taken for credit. So if you take a course that is an antirequisite to a course previously taken, you will lose credit for the earlier course, regardless of the grade achieved in the most recent course.


Prerequisites: Psychology 2820E or both Psychology 2800E and 2810

            3 seminar hours, 0.5 course


Unless you have either the prerequisites for this course or written special permission from your Dean to enrol in it, you may be removed from this course and it will be deleted from your record.  This decision may not be appealed.  You will receive no adjustment to your fees in the event that you are dropped from a course for failing to have the necessary prerequisites.


Instructor:                                    Richard Goffin, Ph.D.;

Office and Phone Number:          Rm. SSC8406; 519-661-2111, Ext.84641

Office Hours:                               By appointment --I try to be as flexible as possible, just email

                                                         me to set up an appointment.

T.A.:                                             Kabir Daljeet, Ph.D. Candidate,, SSC8434

Office Hours:                             Just email to arrange a meeting.

Time and Location of Classes:  Thursdays 12:30 to 3:30 in SSC-2036

If you or someone you know is experiencing distress, there are several resources here at Western to assist you.  Please visit: for more information on these resources and on mental health.

Please contact the course instructor if you require material in an alternate format or if you require any other arrangements to make this course more accessible to you. You may also wish to contact Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) at 519-661-2111 ext 82147 for any specific question regarding an accommodation.


No specific textbook is required but readings will be assigned on a weekly basis in accordance with the lecture schedule in this document 


This course will cover the application of psychological theory and methods for the purpose of appropriately assessing and managing employee job performance in work settings. Obtaining an accurate assessment of each employee’s work performance is essential to a variety of vital purposes such as employee motivation and feedback, as well as the appropriate administration of rewards such as salary increases. However, work performance measurement typically amounts to a simple judgmental rating carried out by a supervisor who may or may not be well-acquainted with the employee’s performance. Moreover, there are a variety of issues, stemming from the social and political context within which job performance ratings occur, that make the process prone to bias and an intriguing subject for the application of psychological theory and research. A variety of approaches to assessing employee performance will be discussed in detail and some of the more prominent topics will be the nature and psychological antecedents of work performance, the evaluation of performance appraisals, and attempts to improve the validity and motivational impact of work performance assessments. This course will improve skills in evaluating research, in the assessment of individual differences, and in developing research ideas.


After successfully completing this course, students should be able to:

  • describe and explain important measurement issues relevant to the management and measurement of employee work performance
  • generate new testable hypotheses relevant to the management and measurement of employee work performance
  • design research to test hypotheses relevant to the management and measurement of employee work performance
  • identify and describe important dimensions of work performance that are common to a wide variety of jobs
  • apply concepts and theories from the management and measurement of employee work performance to real world problems



PLEASE NOTE:  Because this is an essay course, as per Senate Regulations (, you must pass the essay component to pass the course. That is, the average mark for your written assignments must be at least 50%.


An essay of 2500 words (not counting references) will be due on April 6 by 4:00 pm. More details on the content and structure of the essay and late penalties will be provided early in the semester. The essay will account for 40% of the final grade. The essay will be submitted to Turnitin via the course OWL site (discussed in section 8.0 of this outline).


There will be one two-hour test consisting of questions varying in length from short answer or multiple-choice, to essay. The test will be held on Thursday March 15 (during the regular class time slot) and will cover all the reading, lecture and other material covered up to that point. The test will be worth 30% of the final course grade and it will be a “closed book” test (no books, notes, electronic devices, or aids of any type will be allowed).


A written assignment on the topic of multi-source (e.g., peer, supervisor, self, subordinate) ratings of job performance will be due on February 27 by 4:00pm. Details on the assignment, and late penalties, will be provided during the February 8 class. The assignment will account for 15% of the final grade. The assignment will be submitted to Turnitin via the course OWL site (discussed in section 8.0 of this outline).


Class Participation

It is expected that students will become actively involved in discussions and will prepare for class by doing the assigned readings and reflecting upon them. Class participation will account for 15% of the final grade.

Although the Psychology Department does not require instructors to adjust their course grades to conform to specific targets, the expectation is that course marks will be distributed around the following averages:

70%     1000-level and 2000-level courses
72%     2190-2990 level courses
75%     3000-level courses
80%     4000-level courses
The Psychology Department follows the University of Western Ontario grading guidelines, which are as follows (see ):

A+  90-100      One could scarcely expect better from a student at this level
A    80-89        Superior work that is clearly above average
B    70-79        Good work, meeting all requirements, and eminently satisfactory
C    60-69        Competent work, meeting requirements
D    50-59        Fair work, minimally acceptable
F    below 50    Fail



There will be one two-hour test consisting of questions varying in length from short answer or multiple-choice, to essay. The test will be held on Thursday March 15 (during the regular class time slot) and will cover all the reading, lecture and other material covered up to that point. The test will be worth 30% of the final course grade and it will be a “closed book” test (no books, notes, electronic devices, or aids of any type will be allowed).


(Note: CR=Reading is available through Course Readings in OWL; R=Reading is available through Resources/Uploaded Readings in OWL).


Jan 11; Week 1: Using Psychology in the Workplace: Evaluating and Managing Employee Work Performance, Introduction


Jan 18; Week 2: Why Study Employee Work Performance? Overview of Work Performance Measurement and the Criterion Problem.


Rotundo, M. (2009) Conduct performance appraisals to improve individual and firm performance. In E.A. Locke (ed.). Handbook of Principles of Organizational Behavior (2nd Ed.). West Sussex, UK: Wiley. R.

Cleveland, J.N., Murphy, K.R., & Williams, R.E. (1989). Multiple uses of performance appraisal: Prevalence and correlates. Journal of Applied Psychology, 74, 130-135. R.


Jan 25; Week 3: Basic Measurement Principles Relevant to the Understanding of Work Performance.

Murphy, K.R., & Davidshofer, C. O. (2005, 6th ed.). Psychological testing: Principles and Applications. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. pp. 116-140 and 153 to the top of 170. CR


Feb 1; Week 4: What is Work Performance and How/Where Do We Obtain Information About It?

Catano, V.M., Wiesner, W.H., Hackett, R.D., & Methot, L.L. (2016). Recruitment and selection in           Canada (6th Ed.). Toronto, ON: Thomson Nelson. pp. 181 to top of 195. CR


Spector, P.E., Fox, S., Penney, L.M., Bruursema, K., Goh, A., & Kessler, S. (2006).  The Dimensionality of counterproductivity: Are all counterproductive behaviors created equal? Journal of Vocational Behavior, 68, 446-460. R          


Feb 8; Week  5: Multi-source (e.g., Self, Peer, Supervisor, Subordinate) Ratings of Work Performance. Note: You will learn about the assignment during this class.

Balzer, W.K., Greguras, G.J., & Raymark, P.H. (2004). Multisource feedback. In J. C. Thomas (Ed.), Comprehensive handbook of psychological assessment: Industrial and organizational assessment (Vol. 4). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. (pp. 390-411). CR


Harris, M. M., & Schaubroeck, J. (1988). A meta-analysis of self-supervisor, self-peer, and peer-   supervisor ratings. Personnel Psychology, 41, 43-62. R


Nowack, K.M., & Mashihi, S. (2012). Evidence-based answers to 15 questions about leveraging 360-degree feedback. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 64, 157-182. R


Feb 15; Week 6: Evaluating Performance Appraisal

Part I:

Bernardin, H. J., & Villanova, P. (1986). Performance appraisal. In E. Locke (Ed.), Generalizing from     laboratory to field settings. Boston: Heath/Lexington. (pp. 43-62). CR


Murphy, K. R., & Cleveland, J. N. (1995). Understanding performance appraisal. Thousand Oaks,          CA: Sage. (pp. 267-298). CR


Part II:

Economist (Sept. 10, 2009). Big Brother Bosses. R.


McNall, L. A., & Roch, S. G. (2007). Effects of electronic monitoring types on perceptions of procedural justice, interpersonal justice, and privacy. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 37, 658–682. R.


Young, K. (2010). Policies and procedures to manage employee internet abuse. Computers in

       Human Behavior, 26, 1467-1471. R.



Feb 19-23: Family Day and Reading week.


March 1: Week 7: Improving Work Performance Measurement and Management

Catano, V. M.,  Wiesner, W. H., Hackett, R. D., & Methot, L. L. (2016). Recruitment and Selection in Canada, (6th ed.). pp. 203 to 209. CR.


Goffin, R.D., & Olson, J.M. (2011). Is it all relative? Comparative judgments and the possible improvement of self-ratings and ratings of others. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 48-60. R.


Woehr, D. J., & Huffcutt, A. I. (1994). Rater training for performance appraisal: A quantitative review.   Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 67, 189-205. R


March 8: Week 8: Conclusion of Improving Work Performance Measurement and Management and Review for Midterm Test.


March 15; Week 9: Midterm Test.


March 22; Week 10: Developing your Essay – Using Multiple Regression, PsychInfo, and Other Resources.


March 29; Week 11: Developing a Behavioral Performance Rating Scale.


April 5; Week 12: Careers in Industrial-Organizational Psychology


Students are responsible for understanding the nature and avoiding the occurrence of plagiarism and other scholastic offenses. Plagiarism and cheating are considered very serious offenses because they undermine the integrity of research and education. Actions constituting a scholastic offense are described at the following link:

As of Sept. 1, 2009, the Department of Psychology will take the following steps to detect scholastic offenses. All multiple-choice tests and exams will be checked for similarities in the pattern of responses using reliable software, and records will be made of student seating locations in all tests and exams. All written assignments will be submitted to TurnItIn, a service designed to detect and deter plagiarism by comparing written material to over 5 billion pages of content located on the Internet or in TurnItIn’s databases. All papers submitted for such checking will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between Western and

Possible penalties for a scholastic offense include failure of the assignment, failure of the course, suspension from the University, and expulsion from the University.


Western’s policy on Accommodation for Medical Illness can be found at: 

Students must see the Academic Counsellor and submit all required documentation in order to be approved for certain accommodation:


Office of the Registrar web site:

Student Development Services web site:

Please see the Psychology Undergraduate web site for information on the following:

- Policy on Cheating and Academic Misconduct
- Procedures for Appealing Academic Evaluations
- Policy on Attendance
- Policy Regarding Makeup Exams and Extensions of Deadlines
- Policy for Assignments
- Short Absences
- Extended Absences
- Documentation
- Academic Concerns
- 2017 Calendar References

No electronic devices, including cell phones and smart watches, will be allowed during exams.

Maintaining a Complete Set of Notes is Your Responsibility

I understand that, through no fault of your own, you may, occasionally, be forced to miss a class. However, it is very likely that each and every class will be covered to some extent in the test. In order to avoid having an incomplete set of notes when it’s time to study for the test, I recommend finding two or three classmates early on in the year whom you are comfortable sharing notes with in the event that one of you should miss a lecture. Remember to get contact information from these classmates so that you can get in touch with them on short notice if need be. If you miss a lecture, be sure to contact these colleagues ASAP so that you can get caught up and not be confused by later lectures that may well presume that you are already familiar with the material that was covered in the lecture that you missed. Please be advised that I do not make my lecture notes or powerpoint slides available, and it is simply not feasible for me to repeat entire lectures for individual students, even if the test is the next day!


Learn and Study Productively

If you feel that your progress in this course, or at Western in general, is not what it should be as a result of your study skills, habits, or other issues (e.g., personal problems), you may wish to take advantage of the Student Development Centre  (SDC): A wide range of helpful services are offered at the SDC including psychological services/counselling and learning skills services. Additionally, the academic counsellors in your Dean’s office may be able to help you with a variety of issues.

“Turnaround Time” for Grading

Test results will ordinarily be provided to you two weeks after the test date.


*The dates mentioned in this course outline could be changed by the instructor. Any such changes will be announced in class and sufficient notice will be given.