The Instrument and Authors: Darwin B. Nelson, Ph.D. & Gary R. Low, Ph.D.

The Skills for Career And Life Effectiveness® (SCALE®) was originated and developed as the Personal Skills Map® in 1978. The authors, Darwin Nelson and Gary Low, are close personal friends who grew up together and have continued collaborating throughout their careers as consulting psychologists and educators. They originated and developed the Personal Skills Map™ as a comfortable, personal approach to work in person-centered and positive ways with teachers, leaders, psychologists, and consultants to business and industry. Along with Keith Taylor, who first implemented the Personal Skills assessment and training model in a college setting, they have continued to research and improve the Personal Skills Mapping System©. The PSM has been successfully used to teach affective skills in business and education settings for over 30 years.

Research Base

There now over 50 doctoral research studies completed using the positive assessment and personal skills development models created and published by Nelson and Low. Based on factor analysis using data collected with the Personal Skills Map™ (PSM), the Skills for Career And Life Effectiveness® (SCALE®) was created to be placed online and is a much shorter version of the original PSM instrument. For those with computer and Internet access, the online SCALE® is easier to use and the automatic computer scoring allows the respondent to concentrate on understanding and interpreting their report. By completing the online Skills for Career And Life Effectiveness® (SCALE®) process, you will gain valuable information about your current self-perceptions of life skills that are important in healthy and creative living. Personal and career effectiveness is related to the life long process of learning and practicing skills to develop your fullest potential as a person.


  • Positive Assessment for Personal and Career-Life Effectiveness
  • Instructions for How To Respond to the SCALE® Items
  • The SCALE® Questionnaire Presented One Item at a Time
  • Your SCALE® Profile
  • Understanding Your SCALE® Profile and Basic Report
  • Interpreting Your SCALE® Profile — Extended Report

How to Respond to the SCALE®

Set aside about 20 minutes without interruptions

Select the focus for your responses and stick with that through all the questions. This focus may be a current work environment, or home and family, or a group with whom you interact as a volunteer, etc.

Logging In and Getting Started
Navigate to the login page by clicking the button in the top right portion of the screen. Use the temporary login credentials supplied to you in order to gain initial access. Once logged in, provide a new UserID and Password that has personal meaning for you (avoid spaces and special characters). Provide the required demographic information and then begin the SCALE® assessment.

Responding to the Assessment Items
Respond to each question individually.
Respond to each item as you see yourself currently thinking, feeling, and behaving. Do not respond as you once thought, felt, or behaved.
Be totally objective as you decide whether each statement is Most Descriptive, Sometimes Descriptive or Least Descriptive of your current behavior.
Using your computer mouse, select the appropriate button for your response.
Once you have responded to all the items, your profile and basic report will be displayed on your computer screen. Within the basic report you will find links to .pdf files to lead you to more in-depth information about specific areas of interest. Return at any time for up to one year to review and print any of your SCALE® report or .pdf report elements.

Assessment For Personal and Career-Life Effectiveness
In the authors’ view, the results of a positive self-assessment are used to directly benefit the person completing the SCALE® by enhancing the quality and relevance of training or personal learning experience s/he receives. In essence, your SCALE® results will be used to develop personalized learning and skills training and experiences to enhance and improve your personal and professional effectiveness.

Positive Assessment
Because of the philosophy, intent, purpose, construction, and actual content of most “tests,” sometimes people leave the assessment with a feeling and keen awareness of what they did not know. Others may have some suspicion that they may not be quite the persons they “should” be. Little instrumentation has been developed to reflect what is right, healthy, and strong about a person. Even fewer attempts have actually provided any tangible or viable suggestions about what a person might actually do to facilitate his or her own growth and change toward more healthy and creative behavior. The SCALE® is an example of a positive self-assessment instrument that was designed to directly benefit the person completing the items.

Useful Data
Assessment is positive and helpful when it provides information that the person can effectively use to personally develop in more healthy and creative ways. In the SCALE® model respondents are made aware of the purpose of the assessment and told how their results will be used to practically explore ways of learning and developing life skills to enhance personal mental health and career effectiveness. The person completing a SCALE® assessment is considered a full and equal partner in the process, and s/he is asked to provide an honest and straightforward self-evaluation of current thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

If individuals want to get somewhere other than where they feel they are right now as a person, and in their career, it is helpful to know which way to proceed. If personal growth and career development and effectiveness can be viewed as a life long journey, most people can see the advantage of having accurate map that will effectively help them find their way from one point to another. This is the purpose and value of the SCALE®.

You are about to begin the process of assessing your Skills for Career And Life Effectiveness®, and create your SCALE® Map. A map is only as accurate as the person surveying the territory; so respond to the items with the attitudes of self-honesty and objectivity. Your results will be helpful and personally meaningful to the extent that your responses are accurate and objective reflections of your current thoughts, feelings, and personal behaviors.

Learning Focus
The SCALE® does not attempt to measure how you are as a person or how you should be. The process of SCALE® Mapping makes it possible to suggest and design personally meaningful training and learning experiences that will aid you in becoming more effective in your personal and career development.

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