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post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
As a side line to Nolo's dynamic [img]smile.gif[/img] ethics thread, I was discussing another ethical issue this past weekend.

I was out in Long Beach Ca., training to become a Master Trainer for a new aerobic technique, developed by Gin Miller, of "Step" fame. This would involve giving training and certifications at clubs in my area.

By coincidence, the owner of the company teaches snowboarding at Copper. I bought up the issue of testing people who work at the same facility as I do, and compared it to the PSIA exams.

Is there any level of discomfort when you are testing someone from your home mountain?
post #2 of 20

The last exam I did was the last exam I did because I relaxed my rule about not examining people from my home team. When the fellow from my ski school did not pass (all examiners, by the way) he blamed me for it, yelling and then screaming at me during the results interview, which caused us to ask him to leave. I was extremely upset by that experience and vowed never to subject myself to that kind of abuse ever again.

To his credit, the next time the guy saw me, he apologized profusely for his conduct and allowed that he had been responsible for the outcome of the exam, not me. I still never want to do another exam.
post #3 of 20
Many years ago when I was an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Vermont, I was directed on more than one occassion to prepare an "Opinion of the Attorney General". That was an opinion as to the law on a particular subject, and the opinion had no legal standing such as a judge's decision would have, but it carried some weight with the public.

Since parties sometimes agreed to comply with the opinion in advance, it could have a very practical impact on people's lives and work. I remember a particular case in which my opinion was published and I got very nasty phone calls and hate mail. Those people didn't know me, they were just angry at the outcome. They blamed me for that. I explained that, even if I disagreed with a law, it was my duty to report it accurately. Of course, that had absolutely no ameliorative affect.

Notwithstanding the unpleasantness that all caused, I would not stop doing it due to the conduct of some abusive person. Of course, others might - but I would say what I could to dissuade people from being influenced in their professional conduct by one person who throws a hissy fit.
post #4 of 20
I've found it's not the angry words of strangers that can hurt you, but those of friends and colleagues. Over the years I have come to the conclusion that it's a good policy to avoid situations where one sits in judgment of a fellow employee, particularly when the outcome could mean a raise in pay and increased responsibilities and recognition.
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Good point! What my new "snowboarder boss" advised was this. They have a 100 question multiple choice exam, which is returned to the main office for computerized grading. We are to simply collect the exams, and not give any feedback, even if asked.

Luckily, this particular technique does not require any complex movement skills, since one of its purposes is to draw in novice exercisers. So I now my colleagues will not have any problem with the practical.

As far as mountains go, how often do PSIA examiners have to give the exam to their own co workers?
post #6 of 20
I would say it does not happen very often. Even if folks are from the same resort I don't see an issue. Some of the resorts are big enough that folks may barely know one and other.

Folks who have trained together is a different issue, however it could work in both directions in terms of being good or bad.
post #7 of 20
Ultimately, ethics are exercized by individuals, in which case we call it integrity. Sometimes positions of power make us forget the importance of integrity as the source of influence over others, rather than one's position in a hierarchy, which is an immediate (and lousy) source of influence over others.

Such situations can be avoided by reassignment of the coworker to another group, which would resolve any doubts about the examiner's integrity.

The system LisaMarie describes also would remove any doubts about local bias toward the candidate.
post #8 of 20
Board certification in my specialty (anesthesiology) requires passing both a 6 hour (I think it was that long- it seemed like days at the time!!) written exam, followed about a year later by an oral exam. The oral involves several high anxiety 1/2 hour sessions before different panels of 2-3 examiners, who are required to recuse themselves if they know the examinee. There is ongoing speculation that the new simulation technology, which has become incresingly sophisticated, will eventually be employed in the future as part of the exam, and will lend not only a degree of reality but also a means of objective assessment.
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
The system LisaMarie describes also would remove any doubts about local bias toward the candidate.
Probably the fact that the owner of the fitness cert company is also a snowsports professional was instrumental in helping him gain a bit of perspective on a touchy issue1

The Stott Pilates people do something interesting. Your practical exam is actually videoed, and the examiner sends the video to the main office in Toronto for final grading.
post #10 of 20
Jerry Berg, our cert-ed vp, in PSIA-RM has done a whole bunch of work this summer (along with his great committee) to start revamping our exam.

Two important parts:
More sets of "eyes" on the performance, so one examiner can't be the fail guy.

Avoid assigning candidates from home area to an examiner's group.

Very cool.

On the other hand, I have never had a problem failing people from my home area (or passing them!). I think that the reason is that I prep them well at the start of the exam. I really clarify what my job is: that they have hired me to give my opinion THAT day on their performance THAT day. I further explain that some days (just like all of us) they will perform higher and other days they will perform lower. This is the nature of testing (and competing). My hope is that they are well enough prepared to achieve the standard on their worst day.

In this manner, I give them ownership of their results from the beginning. I just promise to do the best I can. Furthermore, I tell them that I am sympathetic and appreciative of their professionalism and expertise for even attempting this. Lastly, I tell them that think examining is not such a good role to play for a teacher BUT I do it because I think it serves the customers, the instructors, the division, my own school, and the industry.

But yeah, Nolo. It can get very brutal. Fortunately, so many of the irate ones end up like your colleague did and take responsibility for their response, even if not for their performance.

The worst time I ever had was when I had to examine my wife (at the time). The night between the two days of the exam was very strange. (No, I didn't get lucky!)
post #11 of 20
I have to tell a short Weems story. After two long days at my level III exam the candidates are left sitting in a room for two hours awaiting their results. Folks are to say the least a little.....on edge.

Weems was not my examiner, however, he was the first to walk into the room from a nearby area where examiners were sequestered scoring. As he made his way through a group of about thirty people, he made eye contact with me, winked, and gave a thumbs up.

I knew then I was "OK" and felt like the weight of the world had just been lifted off my shoulders.

It was a nice gesture.
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
That's a cool story! One other point. Those of us who teach ANYTHING, especially "recreational" activities, realize that we would be doing a potential teacher a disservice by passing them if they are not qualified, no matter how well we know them.
Students can be a bit "unkind" when faced with an incompetant instructor!
post #13 of 20
I did my exams 20 years ago, and I thought they were great. I got tons out of prepping for them. I thought the examiners were fantastic people, especially one guy we all kind of worshipped because he was exceptionally cool. He shall remain nameless for the purpose of my story. Well, one of the candidates was so tight with this guy, he was staying at his house. I thought that was kind of shabby for the rest of us. I'm sure it had no effect whatever on our exam results, but it seemed like a breach of professionalism or decorum or something.

I think that sort of stuff hurts the credibility of the PSIA and that standards of professionalism by examiners are as important as standards of performance by candidates.
post #14 of 20
I believe that folks have issues or concerns with the examination process (from both sides). At the same time, I humbly disagree with the statement of "Ethics" being THE concern.

Ultimately, I don't see how "who the evaluator is" or "what relationship the examiner has to the candidate" is an ethical issue.

*IF* the examiner uses subjective criteria for passing or failing candidates, then that is an ethical problem.

PSIA is a professional organization. The examiner has a clear cut set of guidelines regarding the passing and failing of candidates. ANY instructor who is preparing for an exam knows precisely which criteria will be included in the exam.

At the same time, I question the professionalism of any examiner who does not feel comfortable examining ANYONE. Further, how professional is an instructor who cannot accept being examined by someone they know?

It's more than professionalism - it's personal confidence and the ability to separate the ability to work from personal feelings for people.

Rather than creating/continuing a process which enables people to be unconfident or unprofessional in their duties... I wish this discussion was solution-centered. Why not implement additional coaching on "professionalism" for instructors and examiners with particular attention to this topic?

Ok... I will get off my soapbox now!
(my "day job" is Organizational Development Consulting - so I tend to get stuck on these kind of issues!)

post #15 of 20
Originally posted by kieli:
ANY instructor who is preparing for an exam knows precisely which criteria will be included in the exam.
not so. A fair # of ski schools have directors of trainers who 'disagree with the 'PSIA way' and actively coach/train people against 'it.' (our way is better and PSIA just doesn't get it).

So these folks get "trained" in this fashion - "we don't do it the PSIA way but here's what it is so you can pass the exam." And the training generally cosists of "here's what to look out fors" and "here's what to say whens" and here's what they're looking fors" that come solely out of these "'trainers'" own experiences

People who train instructors from this angle usually misunderstand the information etc. by a long shot. "Their" instructors get to the exam and are blown away because they had no idea what to expect etc. etc.

So a bit of a tangent, but it does point the ethics issue toward trainers/directors and how they treat their 'profession' and fellow pros.

Aside from that issue, an fair number of instructors show up without any knowledge of the criteria for a few other reasons as well.

Though all of them COULD know the criteria for certain.
post #16 of 20

What about the required clinic prior to the exam?
post #17 of 20
Yah, there's a reason they put that in. But it's one clinic. C'mon man. ONE clinic?
post #18 of 20
Hey guys... I posted because I was thinking that this subject is not really one of ETHICS.

From reading these posts I see the following:
- people don't feel properly prepared for PSIA exams
- people feel uncomfortable being examined by their "peers"
- people feel uncomfortable examining their "peers"
- on-hill instruction varies from PSIA standards

anything else?

I bet a new, great thread can come out of this!
post #19 of 20
Originally posted by kieli:
Hey guys... I posted because I was thinking that this subject is not really one of ETHICS.

- on-hill instruction varies.

anything else?
post #20 of 20
HOLEY you know what! [img]tongue.gif[/img]

If we get started discussing how and why "on hill instruction varies" we will be here all day!

Can we specify that "mountain-led instructor clinics vary from PSIA-led clinics"?

Now - I am not sure what the precise issue is... why do you feel that this is a problem?

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