Halo effect

The Halo Effect: Prevent grading errors in open-ended questions

You know that feeling when you evaluate a candidate and find that you are positively influenced by your overall impression of that person? This phenomenon is known as the halo effect. In this article, we will discuss what the halo effect is, why it is important to recognize it and how to avoid it when grading open-ended questions.

What is the halo effect?

The halo effect is a cognitive bias in which your general impression of someone influences your assessment of specific traits, skills or performance. In the case of a test assessment, this means that a positive impression of an exam candidate can lead to a higher score than is objectively justified. This can happen without your awareness, making it essential to train yourself to recognize and avoid the halo effect.

Did you know that the Horn effect is the counterpart of the Halo effect?

Recognize the halo effect

Fair and objective assessment is incredibly important in ensuring the reliability and validity of tests. The halo effect can undermine this objectivity and lead to unfair opportunities for exam candidates. So it is important to be aware of this effect and take measures to minimize it. Also read more about assessing open-ended questions objectively.

Avoiding the halo effect when grading open-ended questions

Fair and objective assessment is incredibly important within (digital) assessment. Therefore, use the following tips to account for the halo effect:

Tip 1: Be aware of your own biases

The first thing you can do to avoid the halo effect is to be aware of your own biases and assumptions. Ask yourself: does my overall impression of this candidate influence my assessment of his or her answers? If so, take a step back and try to look at the answers objectively.

Tip 2: Use clear assessment criteria

An effective way to combat the halo effect is to have clear and objective assessment criteria. This helps you focus on the candidate’s actual performance, rather than being guided by your general impression.

Tip 3: Divide the assessment among multiple reviewers

Involving multiple reviewers can help reduce the influence of the halo effect. Including multiple perspectives in the assessment process reduces the likelihood that one assessor will impose his or her subjective impressions on the final judgment.

Tip 4: Make use of digital assessment software

Digital assessment software can help reduce the halo effect. It can help you work consistently and systematically, and often provides opportunities to clearly define assessment criteria and scoring guidelines. This helps to minimize subjectivity and bias.

In conclusion

The halo effect is a common phenomenon that can undermine the objectivity of test assessments. By being aware of this effect and applying the strategies above, you can ensure fairer and more objective assessments. Remember, recognizing and addressing the halo effect contributes not only to the reliability and validity of tests, but also to a fair opportunity for all exam candidates to demonstrate their knowledge and skills! Learn more about digital assessment in our knowledge base.

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