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Exploring differences in individual and group judgements in standard setting

Yeates, P., Cope, N., Luksaite, E., Hassell, A., Dikomitis, Lisa (2019) Exploring differences in individual and group judgements in standard setting. Medical Education, 53 (9). pp. 941-952. ISSN 0308-0110. (doi:10.1111/medu.13915) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:98467)

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Context: Standard setting is critically important to assessment decisions in medical education. Recent research has demonstrated variations between medical schools in the standards set for shared items. Despite the centrality of judgement to criterion-referenced standard setting methods, little is known about the individual or group processes that underpin them. This study aimed to explore the operation and interaction of these processes in order to illuminate potential sources of variability. Methods: Using qualitative research, we purposively sampled across UK medical schools that set a low, medium or high standard on nationally shared items, collecting data by observation of graduation-level standard-setting meetings and semi-structured interviews with standard-setting judges. Data were analysed using thematic analysis based on the principles of grounded theory. Results: Standard setting occurred through the complex interaction of institutional context, judges’ individual perspectives and group interactions. Schools’ procedures, panel members and atmosphere produced unique contexts. Individual judges formed varied understandings of the clinical and technical features of each question, relating these to their differing (sometimes contradictory) conceptions of minimally competent students, by balancing information and making suppositions. Conceptions of minimal competence variously comprised: limited attendance; limited knowledge; poor knowledge application; emotional responses to questions; ‘test-savviness’, or a strategic focus on safety. Judges experienced tensions trying to situate these abstract conceptions in reality, revealing uncertainty. Groups constructively revised scores through debate, sharing information and often constructing detailed clinical representations of cases. Groups frequently displayed conformity, illustrating a belief that outlying judges were likely to be incorrect. Less frequently, judges resisted change, using emphatic language, bargaining or, rarely, ‘polarisation’ to influence colleagues. Conclusions: Despite careful conduct through well-established procedures, standard setting is judgementally complex and involves uncertainty. Understanding whether or how these varied processes produce the previously observed variations in outcomes may offer routes to enhance equivalence of criterion-referenced standards. © 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd and The Association for the Study of Medical Education

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/medu.13915
Uncontrolled keywords: article, atmosphere, conception, decision making, grounded theory, group dynamics, human, human experiment, language, medical school, polarization, qualitative research, semi structured interview, student, tension, thematic analysis, uncertainty, attitude to health, clinical competence, clinical trial, decision making, education, group process, medical education, multicenter study, procedures, standard, United Kingdom, Clinical Competence, Decision Making, Education, Medical, Undergraduate, Educational Measurement, Group Processes, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Humans, Judgment, Reference Standards, Schools, Medical, United Kingdom
Subjects: R Medicine
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Kent and Medway Medical School
Depositing User: Manfred Gschwandtner
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2022 17:37 UTC
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2022 11:20 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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