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Finding Balance: Examining the Impact of Grades on Engineering Students' Well-being

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Technical Session: The Art of Education

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

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Paper Authors


Eleazar Marquez Rice University

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Eleazar Marquez is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Rice University.

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Samuel Garcia Jr. Texas State University

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Dr. Samuel García Jr. serves as a NASA Educator Professional Development Specialist at Kennedy Space Center and Assistant Professor of Practice for the LBJ Institute for Education and Research at Texas State University.

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The authors conducted a preliminary research study to understand the emotional and academic impact grades have on engineering undergraduate students. Grades in higher education have become a priority for students to secure internship opportunities, post-graduation employment, and graduate school acceptance. However, students’ desire to attain high grades in engineering disciplines may lead to negative effects such as additional anxiety and increased mental exertion, physical exhaustion, and overall lack of work-life balance. A survey was conducted with a cohort of 45 students to understand their perspective on grades before, during, and at the end of the semester, and their responses to obtaining low grades and exam scores in an engineering class. Preliminary results reveal that 60% of the student population expressed anxiety about their grades before the semester began, 64% check their grades at least twice a week via online sources, 96% expressed concern if their grades are not what they expect by mid-semester, 88% mentioned that they memorize material just to pass an assignment. Moreover, other students expressed frustration, disappointment, and high anxiety when they do not attain the grades they want. These findings are imperative and require significant attention since they may affect student learning, retention of fundamental engineering principles, persistence in engineering programs, and overall student well-being.

Marquez, E., & Garcia, S. (2020, June), Finding Balance: Examining the Impact of Grades on Engineering Students' Well-being Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34672

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