DDI Program Evaluation Methodology

Josef Helbling, DDI's Director of Program Evaluation, and Ellen Schupbach, DDI's Executive Director, have incorporated the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) into DDI's evaluation methodology. The IRI (Davis, 1996) is the most widely used of the many methods for researching empathy. It assesses the complex and multi-faceted concept of empathy through measuring the following subscales: Perspective taking,  Empathic concern, Fantasy, Personal distress.

We feel that IRI is well suited to evaluate our programs for a number of reasons. First, the close connection between the four distinct components of empathy with the defined core competencies of our program provides an obvious fit. The Index has been validated within a number of cultural contexts, suggesting a potential applicability for other non-Western cultures where DDI is active.

We have custom tailored this index according to the core competencies of our program. Although we plan to use this evaluation to gage the effectiveness of our courses and the development of the students in the specified areas, we will make an additional analysis and use of the results within the framework of our own training system.

The core of Process Oriented Leadership is the idea that disturbances are meaningful. Applied to this evaluation process, this means that we need to unfold the meaning of a low score and find out what is good or right about an apparent un-empathetic aspect so that it can be used consciously and effectively. We do not think of a low score as bad. A high or low score simply provides information that we can use to enhance the system and the individual learning process.

An example is a participant that scores low on the fantasy scale: the person does not have a propensity for fantasy but tends to stay within the practical, tangible world. We would try to discover the wisdom in this process for this individual. Maybe she or he lives in a high-pressure conflict zone in which you cannot afford to day dream, you must stay alert for the sake of survival. This quality is clearly valuable and needed. We do not want to get rid of this attribute. We want to help the person become conscious of it and use it more fully in her or his life. This might also allow the space for the opposite attribute, the ability to fantasize, to be developed and used as well.For our purposes, however, the significance of this scale is to create awareness around these defined processes of empathy. Our goal is not to create more empathetic leaders but to encourage self awareness about the component experiences of empathy and reactivity.

For additional information on DDI's use of the IRI please click here

Monday, 12. January 2009

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