New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Educational Research and Methods
One student commented, “[The grading method] makes sure the student has full mastery of the course material before they are awarded the units,” another said, “Somehow I actually learned something but wasn’t super stressed all quarter”, and finally, “Having our grade in our own hands, for once, is refreshing.” The students are referring to a grading method known as “mastery” grading. Mastery grading is a combination of defining and assessing the competencies needed and creating an opportunity for learning beyond the competencies. Instead of having students do all the work and receiving a portion of the points on each assignment with the grade being a weighted average of all the assignments, the paradigm is shifted. In this mastery grading method, students are asked to demonstrate a high level of mastery on the most important concepts in the course, a subset of the learning objectives. This demonstrated mastery usually occurs through the traditional midterm and final. The difference is that students must score at a 90% level on these tests to pass the class. This can be achieved through multiple test retake attempts. This level of mastery earns the students a “C”. In order to earn a higher grade, a student must demonstrate learning beyond the mastery level. This might include a research report or project, or it might be an additional test of more advanced topics. Mastery grading draws from concepts in “Self-Determination Theory” of motivation. Students have autonomy in their own level of learning and feel much more in control of their grade. In addition, students are motivated to prove mastery of the topics. The grading method also seems to relieve some of the stress that the typical engineering student feels.
This work-in-progress paper begins with a discussion of the theoretical foundation of the method. We describe the particular implementation of this approach in several engineering courses at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and present results of both qualitative and quantitative assessments of the impact.
Schlemer, L. T., & Vanasupa, L. (2016, June), Grading for Enhanced Motivation and Learning Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27305
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