Factors Associated with Grade Appeals: A Survey of Psychiatry Clerkship Directors

Lia A. Thomas, Nathaniel Milburn, Abigail Kay, Erica Hatch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: In an effort to provide medical students with opportunities for accurate grading, some psychiatry clerkship directors allow for grade appeals. The authors examined the appeals process from the clerkship directors’ perspective. Methods: A 23-item survey, consisting of multiple choice and narrative questions, was sent to allopathic and osteopathic accredited schools in North America. Questions included information about the medical school, the clerkship director, and the grade appeal processes. StatPlus sorted and analyzed the data, and grade challenge rates were compared between schools. The narrative responses were independently sorted by the authors. Results: Sixty-one responses were received (35% of programs). A grade challenge rate was calculated for each response, using the number of appeals/students per year, allowing for further comparison of grade challenges. Clerkships with an honors/pass/fail grading schema had a higher grade challenge rate (p = 0.002) when compared to all other reported grading schemas. Clerkships where the grade appeal could result in a lower grade had a smaller grade challenge rate (p = 0.026) as compared to programs where a grade appeal could not result in a lower grade. The authors observed three common pathways for the processing of grade appeals and four common themes among clerkship directors as contributors to grade appeals. Conclusion: A grade appeal is often the final step in the grading process for medical students. By identifying factors that contribute to grade appeals, areas for targeted interventions in the evaluation process are potentially identified. Future study of grade appeals, including from the medical students’ perspective, is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-356
Number of pages3
JournalAcademic Psychiatry
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Clerkships
  • Grade appeals
  • Medical school

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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