Rubric-based holistic review: a promising route to equitable graduate admissions in physics

8 Oct 2021  ·  Nicholas T. Young, K. Tollefson, Remco G. T. Zegers, Marcos D. Caballero ·

As systematic inequities in higher education and society have been brought to the forefront, graduate programs are interested in increasing the diversity of their applicants and enrollees. Yet, structures in place to evaluate applicants may not support such aims... One potential solution to support those aims is rubric-based holistic review. Starting in 2018, our physics department implemented a rubric-based holistic review process for all applicants to our graduate program. The rubric assessed applicants on 18 metrics covering their grades, test scores, research experiences, noncognitive competencies, and fit with the program. We then compared faculty's ratings of applicants by admission status, sex, and undergraduate program over a three-year period. We find that the rubric scores show statistically significant differences between admitted and non-admitted students as hoped and that statistically significant differences based on sex or undergraduate program aligned with known disparities in GRE scores and service work expectations. Our results then suggest rubric-based holistic review as a possible route to making graduate admissions in physics more equitable. read more

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Physics Education