Standardized Reference Form: What Students Need to Know

The Fall 2015 round of applicants for internship will be greeted with a new feature that levels the playing field for everyone entering the pool: the Standardized Reference Form (SRF). Over the course of two years, a working group from the Council of Chairs of Training Councils (CCTC) collaborated to improve the process of evaluating applicants in a way that was meaningful to reviewers and equitable for students.

Instead of the sometimes vague letters students may have received in the past, this form asks for writers to speak to specific competencies that are relevant to training in a narrative format. This includes student strengths and areas for growth. We all have both, and now there won’t be a penalty for honest assessments of where students are in their skills and abilities before internship. It even allows for recommenders to indicate the years they trained you, so that the reviewers can see your developmental progression.

We don’t expect this letter to influence the match statistics, but the intention is that it results in a better fit for the intern and the site. CCTC will continue to work with The Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC) to evaluate the letter in the next year, allowing the form to evolve and improve over time. Students are welcomed to share feedback about it as well.

Most change requires adjustment and a little anxiety, but here are some “To Dos” to assist students with making this a smooth transition:

  1. Go to the AAPI and download the SRF for yourself to see how you will be evaluated. Write a letter on yourself to self-assess on the competencies being addressed.
  2. Tell all your cohort members to do the same. Spread the word.
  3. Give anyone who may be writing a letter for you a copy of the SRF well in advance, especially if they’ve written letters before. This allows them to have a heads up on the new format, in case they have not yet been introduced. Share the FAQs with them, to answer any questions.
  4. Talk with your recommenders about the SRF and how you see your strengths and areas for growth related to each competency. Make the process collaborative, especially if they have not seen the progression of your skills.

APAGS continues to work on the internship crisis and standardizing the way interns are evaluated is one piece of the larger puzzle. Check back here for any updates about the SRF along the way.

2 thoughts on “Standardized Reference Form: What Students Need to Know

  1. PGI

    This is a great way to select candidates and keep track of selection patterns in time. I’m sure it will also make evaluation more reasonable. Great initiative.

  2. Ripley

    The form is terrible – immediately stale and rule-bound. As a field, we’re homogenizing ourselves into oblivion. Yay us.

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