Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
New Engineering Educators
While grading and assessment has long been a discussion point among educational researchers, there has been a recent resurgence in concern over the efficacy of traditional point-based grading systems. Amidst this discussion, standards- or outcomes-based assessment, first proposed in the 1940s and now widely used across K12 education, has seen a renaissance in higher education circles. With this rise has been a surge of methodologies and summation schemes, proposing different approaches to implementing standards-based assessment. This work seeks to explore some of those approaches through a series of case-studies, examining the impacts of various schemes on the overall course grade of several hypothetical students in an introductory engineering course.
Standards-based grading centers around the idea that student scores are tied directly to their performance against pre-defined standards, in turn tied to the stated course learning objectives. Students are assessed repeatedly on their achievement of these objectives while also being provided with clear, meaningful feedback on their progress. Additionally, standards-based assessment has been proposed as having a positive impact on perceived fairness and transparency of the assessment experience as well as benefits for program assessment. As this approach has gained in popularity, there has been a parallel proliferation of approaches by which to translate objective-based assessment scores to a traditional course letter grade. Methods are wide ranging in approach and there is little research as to the comparative impacts of the various translation schemes.
In this paper, we examine the literature and identify a few key trends in these translation approaches. A framework built around four key dimensions (type, approach, weighting, and scope) is presented to categorize potential standards-based assessment methods. To better illustrate how the framework may be applied, hypothetical student profiles for a high-, mid-, and low-achieving student were generated for an introduction to engineering course and a total of nineteen different methods were developed in various permutations of these dimensions and applied to the hypothetical student scores. The results of these exemplars was examined and trends and insights were discussed, along with areas in need to future study.
While there is clearly no single right answer to this challenge, some general conclusions are drawn about the impacts of various standards-based grading approaches. Ultimately, this work seeks to provide aspiring adopters of a standards-based assessment scheme with the necessary information to design the approach best suited to their course and their students.
Hylton, J. B., & Walker, M. (2018, June), A B or not a B? A Proposed Framework for Discussing Grade Aggregation in Standards-Based Assessment Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/29655
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