Striving for Competence in the Assessment of Competence: Psychology's Professional Education and Credentialing Journey of Public Accountability

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Abstract

The history of psychology's development as a licensed profession is traced over the past 60 years through the evolution of the profession's quality control practices in education and credentialing. These two essential features of a profession began at about the same time, but evolved quite independent of one another for the first 30 years. Shaped by events of the 1970s and 1980s, however, there has been a gradual convergence of focus by those responsible for professional education and credentialing on how best to assess the quality of professional education programs and their graduates who apply for licensure. Although at first this focus was predominantly on the content of curriculum taught and the knowledge examined, increasingly over the past decade there has been a shift of emphasis to the broader, more complex construct of competence to practice for which examination of knowledge is a necessary but insufficient assessment. The article describes the events and structures that led to this outcome and concludes with comments about the future.

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