The sum is greater than its parts: Clinical evaluations and grade inflation in the surgery clerkship

Robert E.S. Bowen, Wendy J. Grant, Kimberly D. Schenarts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background This study examines grading component distributions to determine whether alterations in clinical grade determination reduce skew and improve predictive capability of the clinical evaluation. Methods Rotation evaluations, examination scores, and final grades were collected for third-year medical students over a 2-year period. Conditional logistic regression and ordinary least squares regression models were run using SAS 9.3. Results Conditional logistic regression demonstrated significant association between global clinical score and final grade and between average clinical evaluation score and final grade. Inclusion of shelf score into either model demonstrated increase in overall final grade. Conclusions Regressions using global and average clinical evaluation score indicate that average score is a better fit for a norm-based grading system. Arguably, the Shelf measures clinical knowledge more objectively than clinical evaluation, but both were significant. Clinical evaluation is prone to inflation because of its subjective nature; conceivably, inflation leads to the decreased correlation with shelf score.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)760-764
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Clinical evaluations
  • Grade inflation
  • Surgery clerkship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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