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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Uncovering Rater's Cognitive Processing and Focus Using Think-Aloud Protocols

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This article summarizes the findings of a series of studies that attempt to document cognitive differences between raters who rate essays in psychometric, large-scale direct writing assessment settings. The findings from these studies reveal differences in both what information the rater considers as well as how that information is processed. Examining raters according to their ability to agree on identical scores for the same papers, this article demonstrates that raters who exhibit different levels of agreement in a psychometric scoring system approach the decision-making task differently and consider different aspects of the essay when making that decision. The research summarized here is an initial step in understanding the relationship between rater cognition and performance. It is possible that future research will enable us to better understand how these differences in rater cognition come about so that those who administer rating projects will be better equipped to plan, manage, and improve the processes of rater selection, training, and evaluation.

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