What is the purpose of education / schooling? Let’s say that school is for the purpose of facilitating student learning in ways that will make them successful citizens.
With that foundation:
- Why do we utilize grades in school?
- Have you thought about it?
- Do grades facilitate student learning?
The theory, I believe, is that grades:
- Provides the student an incentive to learn
- Provide the student feedback to allow them to identify and correct their deficiencies
- Communicate student achievement to parents, school administrators and the government
Does it work?
From a metaanalysis by Jeffrey Schinske and Kimberly Tanner
“Grades do seem to encourage an emphasis on quantitative aspects of learning. However, they also depress creativity, foster fear of failure, and undermine student interest in the very topics that we are hoping they will learn.”
“Grading does not appear to provide effective feedback that constructively informs students’ future efforts. This is particularly true for tasks involving problem solving or creativity.”
“In summary, grades often fail to provide reliable information about student learning. Grades awarded can be inconsistent both for a single instructor and among different instructors for reasons that have little to do with a students’ content knowledge or learning advances.”
Of course, it has not always been this way. Grading students did not gain popularity until the 1940s. Even as late as 1971, only 67% of schools used grading as a technique.
With this evidence, I hope that you, like me, are starting to reconsider whether continuing this tradition is the right way to accomplish the goals of education. Let’s start a debate and find a more profitable path forward.
Just my opinion. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
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