Spotlight on O*NET Users: Dr. Harley Baker

Dr. Harley Baker

Professor, California State University Channel Islands Self-titled: Developmentalist

Dr. Harley Baker is Psychology Department Chair at California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI), the newest of California State’s 23 campuses. He has helped build it from its start in 2002, which is exciting because not many people get to help launch a college. As he built his psychology department, Dr. Baker also helped to re-configure the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) Career Exploration Program (CEP), an essential career exploration tool that uses the power of O*NET to help adolescents develop their career skill sets.

“I like to create things, to build things. It is SO exciting,” enthuses Dr. Baker. Harley is excited when he recalls the sense of hope, purpose and freedom that people feel when founding a college and a psychology department. He still displays that excitement telling the story of recreating the ASVAB CEP, which is often credited as being one of the best adolescent career exploration programs in the world for high school students. Harley oversaw its complete retooling in 2002, configured with O*NET powering many of its essential functions. Introduced in 1968, the ASVAB testing program has lived through the “internet-ing” of the world, in its original form. “We knew the ASVAB test was the best measure of aptitudes—reliable and valid— but the ASVAB CEP needed to transform to be the best resource it could be for high school students who soon would be facing college and/or the world of work,” Harley explains. “For three reasons, the time was right, in 2001, for making the new ASVAB CEP”:

  • In addition to re-creating the ASVAB as a career exploration tool, the new ASVAB CEP needed to include new occupations that had emerged since its inception. The ASVAB had 202 occupations. The O*NET database has hundreds more. It was the perfect time to develop a program that would project a real sense of opportunity. Harley “wanted a program that was about the students, one that captured their interests. Now the ASVAB CEP empowers young people to make a plan. It has a huge impact in reducing career indecision. ”
  • The goal of “capturing interests” is exactly where O*NET fit in. With a well-thought-out and tested set of KSAs (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities) linked to about one thousand occupations, as well as interests mapped to all of the O*NET occupational information, it was apparent that O*NET was the needed resource. But first, O*NET had to undergo close scrutiny. “I’m a statistics geek,” Harley shares. I established that I could trust the KSAs in O*NET and how they mapped to the occupations. And the RIASEC scores of the O*NET Interest Profiler linked in ways that made sense and were reliable and valid.”
  • It remained for Harley to “establish that there was a fit between all that we knew about those occupations and everything O*NET knew about KSAs and occupations.” For Harley and his partner in development, Dr. Jane Styer, 30 occupation experts across the county rendered a judgment that the ASVAB test content maps nicely to the KSAs, which are related to the occupations. As an invaluable bonus, Harley also established that the KSA competency level and importance ratings for the occupations fit perfectly, too!

Harley confirmed that in every measure, statistically and psychometrically, linking the ASVAB with O*NET resources was not only valid and reliable, but also tremendously useful. He went on to satisfy two groups that had to agree that retooling the ASVAB CEP with O*NET in it was the best development plan. A panel of career specialists gathered in August of ’01 and endorsed the plan. “Defense Advisory Committee for Military Personnel Testing left no pebble unturned in making us substantiate what we were doing,” Harley remembers. Harley and Jane managed to turn vision into reality very quickly; the new ASVAB was released in mid 2002. [Check it out-- ] Then Harley immediately moved to help create a whole new institution—CSUCI. “I‘m a developmentalist!” he chuckles.

When not developing people or institutions, our intrepid creator enjoys collecting comic books and being a (Star) “Trekky.”