Retrospective analysis of the use of a standardized reference form in admissions to a dietetics internship program.J Am Diet Assoc. 1993 Feb; 93(2):158-62.JA
Although the letter of recommendation is the most commonly requested information relating to the personal qualities of applicants to dietetics internship programs, little research has focused on its value in selection decisions. The purpose of this study was to review how 318 letters of recommendation submitted on a standardized form related to the source of the reference and to the admission status of the applicants. The form contained 40 attributes that raters assigned to one of six categories. Nine of the 40 attributes were not rated by more than 75% of the raters, and 3 of the attributes were rated as outstanding by more than 60% of the raters. We concluded that these attributes did little to distinguish among applicants. The attribute maturity correlated 0.70 with 5 attributes and 0.99 with 2 attributes, so duplication of information existed. Raters were categorized as follows: adviser, major professor, other professor, employer, and other. The highest mean ratings were given by advisers; major professors rated students lowest. Analysis of variance supported a significant difference in rating by type of rater. Our findings suggest that fewer items should be used on a standardized form and that the type of rater should be specified if references are to distinguish among applicants.