Conducting a Shared Mental Model of Student Evaluation: Implications for Nurse Educators

Dorie Fritz, St. Catherine University


Subjective evaluation of student performance, by its definition, is open to bias, the possibility of being inequitable, and of being unfair. One faculty member may consider a student performance passing, while the next faculty member may not. Grading criteria may not have the same meaning to all evaluators, which compounds the issue. In search of narrowing the variables, faculty may develop a shared mental model, where faculty reach agreement on the terms and criteria used for subjective evaluation. The use of a shared mental model should decrease subjectivity, and result in student evaluations that are more fair and equitable. This is based on faculty use of more specific, objective criteria for subjective evaluations. The benefits to faculty are that a shared mental model of conducting evaluations promotes best practices in evaluation, and may provide defensible evaluations in high-stakes situations if students grieve the evaluation or decide to pursue legal action.