Study Guide

Field 040: Business Education 
Sample Constructed-Response Assignment

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Test Directions for the Constructed-Response Assignment

This section of the test consists of one constructed-response assignment. You are to prepare a written response of approximately 300–600 words on the assigned topic. You should use your time to plan, write, review, and edit your response to the assignment.

Read the assignment carefully before you begin to write. Think about how you will organize your response.

As a whole, your response must demonstrate an understanding of the knowledge and skills of the field. In your response to the assignment, you are expected to demonstrate the depth of your understanding of the content area through your ability to apply your knowledge and skills rather than merely to recite factual information.

Your response to the assignment will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

 start bold PURPOSE: end bold  the extent to which the response achieves the purpose of the assignment
 start bold SUBJECT MATTER KNOWLEDGE: end bold  accuracy and appropriateness in the application of subject matter knowledge
 start bold SUPPORT: end bold  quality and relevance of supporting details
 start bold RATIONALE: end bold  soundness of argument and degree of understanding of the subject matter

The constructed-response assignment is intended to assess subject matter knowledge and skills, not writing ability. However, your response must be communicated clearly enough to permit valid judgment of the scoring criteria. Your response should be written for an audience of educators in this field. The final version of your response should conform to the conventions of edited American English. Your written response must be your original work, written in your own words, and not copied or paraphrased from some other work.

Be sure to write about the assigned topic. You may not use any reference materials during the test. Remember to review what you have written and make any changes you think will improve your response.

Sample Constructed-Response Assignment

subarea roman numeral 1 
Business Management

 start bold Read the information below; then complete the exercise that follows. end bold 

You have been hired as a consultant by a medium-size firm that produces bearings for industrial customers. The company is in the process of developing and implementing a new system to enhance information sharing between marketing and production. The purpose of the system is to improve communications so that the production facility will be able to produce items needed by marketing in a timely fashion. To coordinate the process, a project team has been set up with representatives from production, marketing, and information systems. The team has not been working well together due to a lack of understanding and trust among representatives from the different departments. You have been asked by the president of the company to facilitate team meetings and prepare a report about the proper course of action for implementing the new system.

Using your knowledge of business management, prepare a response in which you use the information above to:

Sample Strong Response to the Constructed-Response Assignment

 start bold Please note: The sample response provided below is for review purposes only and should not be used in a response on an operational exam. Use of the exact words and phrases presented in this sample response will result in a score of "U" (Unscorable) due to lack of original work. end bold 

As a consultant in the situation described, my goal would be to improve relations among project team members and help them move forward in developing a system to improve information sharing between the marketing and production departments. To address the team's problems, I would begin by considering various general managerial factors. First, I would have to understand that organizational changes of any kind can initially cause stress and conflict, especially when they involve staff from different departments who may have different perceptions and priorities and different ways of doing things. I would also need to identify current disagreements among team members and the causes of those disagreements. At the same time, I would try to identify areas of agreement that might provide a basis for future cooperation. In addition, I would need to be sure that all team members understand the team's goals and why achievement of the goals is important to the firm. The more clearly team members understand project goals, the more likely it is that they will be motivated to work together to achieve them.

One approach I would use to help the team solve its problems and accomplish its objectives is to involve team members in using a general problem-solving strategy. I would start with a brainstorming session in which I would encourage team members to generate ideas about how the team might address its issues and proceed with its work. The main goal at this stage would be to generate and record as many ideas as possible. Once many ideas have been proposed, the team would discuss and evaluate them. My main tasks at this point would be to keep the discussion focused and positive and to help the participants work toward consensus about the best strategies to use to move forward. In addition to promoting consensus and a sense of ownership among team members, participation in this process should also enhance understanding and trust among team members and improve their willingness and ability to communicate with each other. As the facilitator for this activity, I would have to be aware of the sensitivity of the situation and make sure that discussion is handled carefully in order to avoid making relationships within the team worse than they are. One way to help keep the discussion on track, for example, would be to have all group members generate and agree on ground rules for discussion before we begin and then to remind the group of its rules as needed during the activity.

A second approach I would use is to have all team members participate in developing a project management plan. I would begin by having them identify all of the major tasks that will be required for successful completion of the project and then determine how to distribute the tasks among team members. Then we would create a schedule and timeline that shows relationships among tasks and specifies when each task needs to be completed. I would also have the team members make plans for conducting regular meetings to assess team progress and address unanticipated problems. Developing a project management plan in this way should promote team members' sense of ownership regarding the project and their own roles within it. It should also ensure that all team members have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and how those responsibilities relate to overall project goals and objectives.

Use of the two approaches described above should help build trust and produce a more cooperative, focused team whose members can work together in positive, productive ways to achieve the firm's goals. In addition, because all team members would have an opportunity to participate in planning the project and defining roles and responsibilities within it, they can be expected to develop a greater sense of ownership and a greater understanding of how their own task performance is related to that of other team members and to the success of the team as a whole.

Rationale for the Sample Strong Response

Please note that the response is evaluated based upon the four performance characteristics of Purpose, Subject Matter Knowledge, Support, and Rationale. Please also note how the score point descriptions are based upon how the examinee attends to the performance characteristics. You should be very familiar with the CEOE performance characteristics and score scale and refer to them when reviewing this rationale.

The response fulfills the purpose of the assignment (refer to the instructions for the assignment): it identifies general managerial factors (i.e., understand that organizational changes can initially cause stress and conflict, identify current disagreements among team members, etc.) to consider in addressing the team's problems; it proposes two approaches (i.e., involve all team members in a general problem-solving strategy and have all team members participate in developing a project management plan) to help solve the team's problems; and it explains how the two approaches will enable the company to implement the new system. The writer uses high-quality, relevant examples when identifying four specific managerial factors in the first paragraph of the response. In addition to identifying these factors, the writer also explains the importance of each. For instance, after identifying the managerial factor of ensuring that "all team members understand the team's goals," the writer explains that this is important because "the more clearly team members understand project goals, the more likely it is that they will be motivated to work together to achieve them." The writer continues to demonstrate an appropriate application of subject matter knowledge by describing, in detail, two proposed approaches to help the team solve their problems; the reader is able to clearly see that the writer has a comprehensive understanding of why these two approaches would help with the implementation of the new system. In addition, the writer demonstrates an ably reasoned understanding of the topic, as he or she addresses the third bullet of the prompt by explaining how the two approaches will "build trust and produce a more cooperative, focused team whose members can work together in positive, productive ways to achieve the firm's goals." Overall, this response demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of the topic.

Sample Weak Response to the Constructed-Response Assignment

As a consultant for the firm that produces bearings, I would encourage the organization to implement procedures to improve communication between the marketing and production departments. The team's problems involve lack of trust and lack of team organization.

For the first approach in this project, I would encourage the team to construct a project timeline that the employees from production, marketing, and information systems would give input into. A project lead would be selected from this team, and preferably someone who has an outgoing personality and has good relationships with coworkers. This will build trust within the team.

The second approach would be for the project team leader to make sure each team member is participating with his or her input into the project goals. This can be accomplished through oral or written communication. The project team leader should make sure team members are equally participating in the project.

These approaches presented should aid the firm in having a strong start with project development for the new communication system being constructed. The result will show in a final finished product of having an enhanced information sharing system among the firm's marketing and production departments.

Rationale for the Sample Weak Response

Please note that the response is evaluated based upon the four performance characteristics of Purpose, Subject Matter Knowledge, Support, and Rationale. Please also note how the score point descriptions are based upon how the examinee attends to the performance characteristics. You should be very familiar with the CEOE performance characteristics and score scale and refer to them when reviewing this rationale.

The purpose of this assignment (refer to the instructions for the assignment) is only partially achieved. The writer has attempted to address all three bullets of the assignment; however, the writer has provided a limited response with few relevant examples. The writer attempts to address the first bullet of the prompt in the first sentence, stating, "I would encourage the organization to implement procedures to improve communication between the marketing and production departments." However, the writer does not provide any examples of what procedures he or she would implement. The writer then goes on to propose two approaches to help solve the team's problems (i.e., construct a project timeline and make sure each team member is participating). The two approaches could work for this situation; however, the writer provides a limited rationale as to why these approaches would be appropriate. The writer simply states that the two approaches "should aid the firm in having a strong start with project development." Unfortunately, the writer does not explain why or how these approaches will help solve the team's current problems. Lastly, the writer provides a limited response to the third bullet by providing limited supporting evidence to explain how the two proposed approaches will help the company implement the new system effectively. Overall, this response reflects a limited, poorly reasoned understanding of the topic.

Performance Characteristics

The following characteristics guide the scoring of responses to the constructed-response assignment.

Characteristics that guide the scoring of responses
Purpose The extent to which the response achieves the purpose of the assignment
Subject Matter Knowledge Accuracy and appropriateness in the application of subject matter knowledge
Support Quality and relevance of supporting details
Rationale Soundness of argument and degree of understanding of the subject matter

Scoring Scale

Scores will be assigned to each response to the constructed-response assignment according to the following scoring scale.

Score Scale with description for each score point.
Score Point Score Point Description
4  start bold The "4" response reflects a thorough knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. end bold 
  • The purpose of the assignment is fully achieved.
  • There is a substantial, accurate, and appropriate application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence is sound; there are high-quality, relevant examples.
  • The response reflects an ably reasoned, comprehensive understanding of the topic.
3  start bold The "3" response reflects a general knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. end bold 
  • The purpose of the assignment is largely achieved.
  • There is a generally accurate and appropriate application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence generally supports the discussion; there are some relevant examples.
  • The response reflects a general understanding of the topic.
2  start bold The "2" response reflects a partial knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. end bold 
  • The purpose of the assignment is partially achieved.
  • There is a limited, possibly inaccurate or inappropriate application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence is limited; there are few relevant examples.
  • The response reflects a limited, poorly reasoned understanding of the topic.
1  start bold The "1" response reflects little or no knowledge and understanding of the subject matter. end bold 
  • The purpose of the assignment is not achieved.
  • There is little or no appropriate or accurate application of subject matter knowledge.
  • The supporting evidence, if present, is weak; there are few or no relevant examples.
  • The response reflects little or no reasoning about or understanding of the topic.
U The response is unscorable because it is illegible, not written to the assigned topic, written in a language other than English, or lacking a sufficient amount of original work to score.
B There is no response to the assignment.