About My Dissertation Study

The social demands of the workplace, where employees must be aware of the need for shifts in style and manner that are person and context dependent, can present challenges for young adults on the autism spectrum. The concept of soft skills refers to the interpersonal skill set necessary for success in the workplace.  Leadership/people/relationship skills, communication skills, management and organizational skills, and cognitive skills and knowledge are examples. Importantly, a recent effort to identify predictors of post-school success for transition-age, high school students with disabilities identified soft skills instruction and assessments of soft skill development as critical in the area of vocational development.

For the educators who support these young adults to overcome such challenges, assessment plays a critical role. A reliable and valid assessment of soft skill development for employees with ASD should be sensitive to a range of ability levels, and must be designed thoughtfully, with an eye toward systematically controlling for both the sources and types of factors hypothesized to impact social complexity.

The intent of my dissertation is to validate just such an assessment, the Social Evaluative Reasoning (SER) in the workplace instrument.  SER is defined as context-specific critical thinking involving appraisal of the effectiveness and appropriateness of employee behavior as it occurs in response to a variety of customer social cues in entry-level employment heavy in soft skill demand. An innovative feature of the SER instrument is that it utilizes comic strips to depict workplace scenarios!

Currently, I'm seeking  participants to take part in my study. Details about what participation entails can be found in the comic strip below--by clicking on the "SER INSTRUMENT LINK" directly above the comic strip, you will be directed to the online version of the assessment.  If you have any questions, or would like paper copies of the assessment mailed to you, feel free to contact me