CASPer: Who Marks the Examinations?

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The reason for CASPer results taking up to three weeks to process is that the papers are still marked by humans. In an age of neural language processing, and with the team behind CASPer having a desire to be at the forefront of situational judgement testing, one might have thought that they would see an AI system as either more efficient or more objective – yet that is not the case. Instead, they use a team of assessors that they call ‘raters.’ Here, we will look into who marks the tests, in order that you can best understand who is on the other end of your paper.

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How is the CASPer test marked?

Firstly, we should consider how the tests are marked. Each rater will be blinded, and receive only one type of scenario. They then work through anonymised responses, and provide a rating for each on a ‘modified Likert scale of 1-9.’ What exactly constitutes this scale is unknown – a normal Likert scale would be 1-5. The idea behind the anonymised rating, raters only rating one section each, and single system throughout, is that the process be as objective as possible.

Who assesses the CASPer test’s raters?

The raters themselves are assessed as they score the papers. They will be monitored in real-time, every day. The CASPer team will check that the rater is providing scores that use the full breadth of the system (i.e. some scored 1, some scored 9, others around the rest of the extremities, rather than all scoring between 4 and 7). Their average scores should be in line with the expected number. Additionally, they should be reading answers at a rate that seems possible, and should not be flagging responses as being especially poor or worrying unless it is appropriate. Due to their standards for raters, around 60 raters might be removed from the platform in any given year.

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Who are the CASPer test’s raters?

Raters are recruited from a variety of sources – these might be conferences, online job boards like Indeed, universities, professional associations, and email campaigns. Each applicant to become a rater must submit their CV, and the CASPer team will look to see if they have relevant experience, solid knowledge of the healthcare field, good general work experience, and no connections to current applicants to medical school (or other CASPer specific programs). Then, a shortened version of the CASPer that has been specifically designed for raters is provided to them, in order to both help them become more familiar with the format, and to check that their way of thinking tallies with that of the CASPer team. They are then provided with an online video training course, and a set of practice responses to rate (that have already been benchmarked) – this allows them to further understand what will constitute a high or low scoring response.

All raters will be drawn from the same country as the tests being rated – e.g. American raters will rate applications to an American college. The rating pool is designed to be diverse, in order to best represent the broader population that the applicants sitting the test will one day work on behalf of. All raters should additionally have some form of interest in the future of the profession for which they are rating – be it healthcare or teaching. From the last publicly available information, there were 200 active raters in the US. The vast majority (87%) are in possession of a degree, and in fact more of this group have a Master’s or Doctorate than a Bachelor’s, making the general population of raters very well educated. They generally would sit in the middle class in terms of their earnings, and 26% work in healthcare itself. The other 74% are often retired, although will also work in other professions like teaching. The majority of raters are female – 76%. This perhaps does not tally with the idea of having a ‘diverse’ or ‘representative’ sample of the population. 78% of raters are white, and Latino raters are very underrepresented, as are Asian raters.

As it stands, Altus Assessments (the company behind CASPer) is looking to conduct targeted outreach programs to bring about true diversity within its rating pool, as well as improve its re-training processes for raters that are not performing as well as they might.

Overall, you should see this peek into who raters are as something to give you confidence. They are not subject specialists, and are often everyday people. They are trained to look for a certain kind of response – and you should be able to learn how to provide that type of response.

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