Measuring Clinical Judgement in Novice Psychology Students | An Exercise in Educational Research With Implications for Clinical Research

Dauphin, V. Barry, Kelly Bass, Leena Hadied, Grant Heller, Jennifer Mohrovic, Amanda Peake, Matt Ventimiglia, Joseph Wheeler, and Jay Witherell

Much of the field of clinical work in psychology involves gathering information and making clinical judgments about this information. Research into clinical judgment is important in order to improve the validity of assessment processes and to help clinicians make more accurate judgments (Garb, 1998). The field needs to develop models of how clinicians organize information and come to diagnostic conclusions on the basis of case material, as some research into clinical judgment (e.g., Dawes, 1994) has suggested that clinicians are not as reliable and accurate as would be expected.

This class project involved creating an instrument to review assessment material to enable comparisons of clinical judgment over time. The Assessment III class (PYC 673) created an instrument, gathered testing data from the Rorschach Inkblot Method (RIM) from 2 assessments and analyzed the clinical ratings made be a 1st yr. assessment class to the material. We studied the reliability of the instrument (inter-rater reliability of advanced students who were blind to the test data) and the comparison of beginner‟s ratings with the ratings or more experienced students. Next we compare whether the 1st yr. students‟ ratings change after having had more exposure to the instrument being studied (i. e., learning the Rorschach during the assessment course). It would be expected that as students learn about a psychological testing process such as the RIM in more detail, they should be able to make more subtle distinctions in applying findings to the data. We also analyzed whether two protocols with different kinds of diagnoses are differentiated by novice students, i.e., different Rorschach being given different kinds of ratings on the clinical judgment instrument.