Clayton State University Associate Professor of Management Dr. Gary May recently received the award for Outstanding Article in Business Communication Quarterly, as presented by the Association for Business Communication.
The article is titled, “The Effect of Rater Training on Reducing Social Style Bias in Peer Evaluation.” The article is third in a series, following a published literature review and an empirical study that established that bias related to social styles does influence ratings. May received a plaque, a monetary award of $500, and a one-year extension of his membership in the Association as part of his award.
“The research tested the effect of a rater-training program on reducing social style bias in project team peer evaluations,” May explains. “The test groups that received the rater-training program exhibited significantly less ratings bias when compared to the control groups who did not receive training.
"Like many college instructors, I use peer evaluation as part of the grading system in collaborative team projects to control `social loafing’ and evaluate student contributions to both process and task. Based on my research, I now include in all my classes a training program on how to complete a peer evaluation. My research indicates that the training reduces bias and improves the validity and reliability of the ratings. Improving objectivity is particularly important when peer evaluations are used for grading purposes."
May points out that, since teams are an integral part of the workplace, his research also has application for business leaders.
“We want team members to evaluate peer behaviors based on contribution to task and process in their team projects, not based on personality, race, gender, or other factors,” he says. “Everyone needs to be taught how to accurately assess the performance of others. Based on my research, I believe all businesses should include rater-training as part of the support system for teams when peer evaluations are required.”
May’s research was encouraged by his natural curiosity regarding the reliability and validity of peer evaluations used for grading purposes.
“Many instructors I’ve talked with expressed dissatisfaction with the outcomes of their current peer evaluation process,” he says. “Social style is a behavioral personality construct that describes our pattern of behaviors with others – our assertiveness and expression of feelings.
“There are four basic styles: Analytical, Driver, Expressive, and Amiable. We tend to like those who are most like us. Students with the same social styles tended to rate each other higher than team members with opposite or conflicting social styles. I wanted to know if we could reduce the bias by making students more aware of the social style issue and providing some tips on how to evaluate behavior objectively.”