Bridging the Grade Gap: Reducing Assessment Bias in a Multi-Grader Class

Sean Kates, Tine Paulsen, Sidak Yntiso, Joshua A. Tucker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Many large survey courses rely on multiple professors or teaching assistants to judge student responses to open-ended questions. Even following best practices, students with similar levels of conceptual understanding can receive widely varying assessments from different graders. We detail how this can occur and argue that it is an example of differential item functioning (or interpersonal incomparability), where graders interpret the same possible grading range differently. Using both actual assessment data from a large survey course in Comparative Politics and simulation methods, we show that the bias can be corrected by a small number of bridging observations across graders. We conclude by offering best practices for fair assessment in large survey courses.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)642-650
    Number of pages9
    JournalPolitical Analysis
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Oct 14 2023


    • Bayesian Aldrich-McKelvey scaling
    • assessment bias
    • differential item functioning

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations


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