UMD Researchers Create Tool to Track Regional Experience, Language Skills, and More

UMD Researchers Create Tool to Track Regional Experience, Language Skills, and More

Researchers from the University of Maryland are in the final stages of creating a tool to assist in the assessment of regional proficiency for the Defense Language and National Security Education Office within the Department of Defense (DoD).

This tool is designed to provide DoD planners and staff with the ability to more effectively shape the workforce, direct training, and be more responsive to regional threats and natural disasters occurring around the globe.

The Regional Proficiency Assessment Tool (RPAT), developed by researchers from the University of Maryland Center for Advanced Study of Language (CASL), provides an analysis of regional proficiency through the collection of self-reported life experience (personal and professional), acquired knowledge, learned skills, and international experience.

The RPAT works by collecting respondents’ answers via a questionnaire, analyzing those responses, and assigning a regional proficiency rating for each of the regions identified by the DoD.

The RPAT is complex and a substantial amount of work has gone into developing the algorithm used to determine an individual’s regional proficiency.

Once data are collected, a complex set of algorithms weights the responses and organizes the data into five clusters or dimensions of information. These five clusters include: study of the geographical region, travel to the region, relevant language proficiency, analytical and critical thinking, and additional international/domestic experience. The respondent gets a regional proficiency assessment for each cluster and an overall rating for each region on a six-point scale.

The RPAT was developed because there was no existing method for assessing or tracking regional proficiency within the DoD. The DoD Manpower Data Center is implementing a web-based version to be deployed in 2016 allowing the military workforce access to the RPAT independent of their location.

There are ongoing discussions about the intent to extend the use of the RPAT to assess civilian employees within the DoD.

Among the many CASL researchers who worked on RPAT are: Senior Research Scientist Michael Bunting, Associate Research Scientists Claudia Brugman and Susannah Paletz, Senior Faculty Research Assistant Meredith Mislevy Hughes, Research Assistant Arlouwe Sumer, and Director of IT John Romano. Additional collaborators include: Assistant Research Scientists Michelle Morrison and Brook Hefright, Associate Research Scientist Amber Bloomfield, Web Services Developers Katrina Hussain and Michael McGrath, retired Senior Research Scientist George Reinhart. Andrew Mathis, currently a Lead Scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton, Ivica Pavisic, a Ph.D. student at Bowling Green State University, and former Assistant Research Scientist Shawn Maloney were previously involved in the project as team contributors.

September 21, 2015


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