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How to Write a Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS)

Updated on August 6, 2017
Carolyn M Fields profile image

Lifelong learner, musician, author, world traveler, truth enthusiast, and all around bon vivant.


What Kind of Scale, Exactly?

What, you might ask, is a Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scale (BARS), and why should I care? Have you ever needed to tell someone that they were “not very good” at something, but when pressed, you weren’t able to explain what the person should be doing differently? Then you will definitely be interested in this method of performance evaluation. It takes some planning and effort, but it’s well worth it, if you are ever accused of bias in your performance evaluations. There are several different approaches you can use. I am going to explain the simplest and most direct method (in my opinion).

First Things First

First, you need to determine what behavior you are going to measure. For illustration, let’s take public speaking. You will need several people (different points of view) to gather data on what good, moderate, and poor performance looks like. For example, one specific behavior of a “good” speaker would be to involve the audience by asking questions and citing relevant examples. A “poor” speaker will do little or none of this.

Set Up the Scale

Once you have gathered all the behaviors you want to measure, you will need to construct a “Likert” scale (strongly agree to strongly disagree), and create an “item” for each of the behaviors you are going to observe. It might look something like this:

Public Speaking Skill

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Before you are finished, you will need to get together your panel of experts, and have them review your findings. Keep all the items where there is a high level of agreement, and discard the rest. Then you are pretty much ready to use your new BARS. Go forth and evaluate!


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  • DreamerMeg profile image

    DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

    I haven't heard of this before, very useful