First-year medical students’ calibration bias and accuracy across clinical reasoning activities

Timothy J. Cleary*, Abigail Konopasky, Jeffrey S. La Rochelle, Brian E. Neubauer, Steven J. Durning, Anthony R. Artino

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


To be safe and effective practitioners and learners, medical professionals must be able to accurately assess their own performance to know when they need additional help. This study explored the metacognitive judgments of 157 first-year medical students; in particular, the study examined students’ self-assessments or calibration as they engaged in a virtual-patient simulation targeting clinical reasoning practices. Examining two key subtasks of a patient encounter, history (Hx) and physical exam (PE), the authors assessed the level of variation in students’ behavioral performance (i.e., effectiveness and efficiency) and judgments of performance (i.e., calibration bias and accuracy) across the two subtasks. Paired t tests revealed that the Hx subtask was deemed to be more challenging than the PE subtask when viewed in terms of both actual and perceived performance. In addition to students performing worse on the Hx subtask than PE, they also perceived that they performed less well for Hx. Interestingly, across both subtasks, the majority of participants overestimated their performance (98% of participants for Hx and 95% for PE). Correlation analyses revealed that the participants’ overall level of accuracy in metacognitive judgments was moderately stable across the Hx and PE subtasks. Taken together, findings underscore the importance of assessing medical students’ metacognitive judgments at different points during a clinical encounter.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767-781
Number of pages15
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Calibration
  • Clinical reasoning
  • Metacognition
  • Microanalytic assessment
  • Self-assessment
  • Self-regulated learning


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