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This article is the author’s final published version in Journal of Medical Education and Curricular Development, Volume 10, January-December 2023, Pages 1-7.

The published version is available at Copyright © The Author(s) 2023.


OBJECTIVES: Internal medicine clerkship grades are important for residency selection, but inconsistencies between evaluator ratings threaten their ability to accurately represent student performance and perceived fairness. Clerkship grading committees are recommended as best practice, but the mechanisms by which they promote accuracy and fairness are not certain. The ability of a committee to reliably assess and account for grading stringency of individual evaluators has not been previously studied.

METHODS: This is a retrospective analysis of evaluations completed by faculty considered to be stringent, lenient, or neutral graders by members of a grading committee of a single medical college. Faculty evaluations were assessed for differences in ratings on individual skills and recommendations for final grade between perceived stringency categories. Logistic regression was used to determine if actual assigned ratings varied based on perceived faculty's grading stringency category.

RESULTS: "Easy graders" consistently had the highest probability of awarding an above-average rating, and "hard graders" consistently had the lowest probability of awarding an above-average rating, though this finding only reached statistical significance only for 2 of 8 questions on the evaluation form (

CONCLUSIONS: Perceived differences in faculty grading stringency have basis in reality for clerkship evaluation elements. However, final grades recommended by faculty perceived as "stringent" or "lenient" did not differ. Perceptions of "hawks" and "doves" are not just lore but may not have implications for students' final grades. Continued research to describe the "hawk and dove effect" will be crucial to enable assessment of local grading variation and empower local educational leadership to correct, but not overcorrect, for this effect to maintain fairness in student evaluations.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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