Thesis Title

The Effect of Diary-Keeping on Performance Appraisal Rating Levels


Amy Cisneros

Date of Graduation

Summer 1996


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Jeanne Phelps


The effect of diary-keeping on performance appraisal was examined. Student raters in an upperclass college course (N=72) were randomly assigned to three groups. The control group (N=24) completed weekly Likert-type scales rating the assigned text; one experimental group (N=23) completed weekly Likert-type scales rating the professor's teaching effectiveness; another experimental group (N=25) kept daily diaries in which they wre required to identify one positive and one negative teaching behavior. The professor was chosen because of his reputation as an excellent instructor. On the final class period, raters from all three groups completed a final eigh-dimension rating scale on professor performance, and a six-dimension scale rating the text. Because teaching performance was expected to be good, and because of the intense focus on performance required of the experimental groups, it was hypothesized that both experimental groups would rate the professor higher on final performance appraisal ratings than would the control group, with the diary group giving highest ratings. A consistent pattern was found supporting the hypotheses: raters who kept diaries gave the highest final ratings, followed by raters who completed weekly rating scales of teaching performance, with the control group giving the lowest final ratings. On six of the nine dimensions of teaching effectiveness (including a computed scale of the other eight dimensions), this difference achieved statistical significance despite the low statistical power in this study. Although these results could suggest that diary-keeping leads to leniency, we speculate that diaries facilitate accuracy in performance appraisals. The hypothesis that textbook raters would give higher final ratings of the text was not supported.

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© Amy Cisneros