Original Research

Discourses regarding ethical challenges in assessments - Insights through a novel approach

Madia M. Levin, Anne Buckett
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 37, No 1 | a949 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v37i1.949 | © 2011 Madia M. Levin, Anne Buckett | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 December 2010 | Published: 16 November 2011

About the author(s)

Madia M. Levin, University of South Africa, South Africa
Anne Buckett, University of South Africa, South Africa


Orientation: From a pragmatic approach, a novel method called ‘the town hall focus group’ was utilised to provide insight into discourse regarding ethical issues in psychological assessments. This article contributes to the understanding of the practice of ethics in assessments and suggests the use of this particular method to facilitate discourse regarding ethical issues.

Research purpose: To illustrate a forum where ethical discourse can occur in a practical fashion in order to deal with the diversity of situations, questions, demands and responsibilities experienced by psychologists.

Motivation for the study: Although codes and guidelines on assessment exist, many psychologists feel that despite the existence of ethical beacons, they are often faced with challenges for which no obvious solution is evident. A need exists for ethical discourse by which psychologists grapple with unique situations through an active dialectical process.

Research design, approach and method: A qualitative research approach was employed using the town hall focus group. The study was conducted with a convenience sample of 108 psychologists and practitioners.

Main findings: The town hall focus group method provided an opportunity and platform for ethical discourse regarding the ethical challenges experienced by psychologists.

Practical/managerial implications: This article contributes to the understanding of the practice of ethics in assessments by illustrating a platform for ethical discourse regarding ethical issues experienced in assessments. The town hall method appears to be valuable as it provides a forum to discuss ethical challenges where members are allowed to share their experiences and thus gain access to peer support, insight and shared resources.

Contribution/value-add: Although the focus group results are not transferable, this article proposes it as a useful method contributing to the understanding of the ethical issues and challenges experienced in assessments. The novel method applied and described facilitates peer discourse regarding ethical challenges. This method could be replicated and applied in other contexts as a means of contending with ethical challenges within a supportive environment.


ethical challenges; town hall focus group; discourse; pragmatic approach


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Crossref Citations

1. Ethical challenges in assessment centres in South Africa
Vuyani R. Muleya, Linda Fourie, Sandra Schlebusch
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology  vol: 43  year: 2017  
doi: 10.4102/sajip.v43i0.1324