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Treating students like adults - can they manage their own grading scheme?

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2019 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting


California State University, Los Angeles , California

Publication Date

April 4, 2019

Start Date

April 4, 2019

End Date

April 6, 2019

Conference Session

PSW Section Meeting Papers - Disregard start and end time - for online paper access only

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Pacific Southwest Section Meeting Paper Submissions

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Durul Ulutan California State University, Northridge

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Durul Ulutan has been an Assistant Professor at California State University - Northridge (CSUN) since 2017. He received his BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering from Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey, and his PhD in Industrial & Systems Engineering from Rutgers University (New Jersey). He worked as a Post-Doctoral Researcher in Automotive Engineering at Clemson University, (South Carolina) for 2 years prior to becoming an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering at Bucknell University (Pennsylvania), where he worked for 2 years before moving to CSUN. His main research field is Machining of Metals, and he is also interested in implementing new techniques in classroom to improve student learning.

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This is a preliminary study where it is proposed that giving the students the opportunity to manage their own grading scheme can help with their learning. Conventionally, each instructor creates a grading scheme for their class, assigning certain percentages to each type of assessment they use. Each class has different types of assessment, which can include homework assignments, quizzes, mid-term exams, final exams, projects, and attendance / participation. An instructor may choose to eliminate some of these whereas using and prioritizing others based on class content. However, what is usually not considered is the lack of understanding and consideration of student psychology and characteristics that is associated with standardized assessments. Test anxiety is a known issue, and it is particularly salient with minorities. Similarly, it was also shown that specific minority groups have lower turnout rate with homework submission. Therefore, allowing the students to modify their grading scheme can improve their overall grade in class. In addition, letting the students have more control on their assessment can improve their self-respect and confidence in their capabilities, eventually increasing their determination towards succeeding in the class and college experience as a whole, as described by the self-determination theory and its effects on self-motivation. The main disadvantages of giving students control of their grade are (1) they may not have a correct self-assessment of their abilities, (2) grading and assigning letter grades at the end of the semester becomes an increased load for the instructor, particularly in larger classroom sizes, and (3) students can be inclined towards changing their grading scheme too much and ultimately undermining the purpose of some assessment types. In this preliminary study, a graduate-level class (17 students) was selected for implementation of the method, and the effectiveness of the method was assessed by comparing the performance of students who modified the default grading scheme based on their preferences. After analyzing the preliminary results, methods of overcoming the three major challenges of giving students control over their grade are presented.

Ulutan, D. (2019, April), Treating students like adults - can they manage their own grading scheme? Paper presented at 2019 Pacific Southwest Section Meeting, California State University, Los Angeles , California. 10.18260/1-2--31848

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