Rethinking assessment? Research into the affective impact of higher education grading

Neil Currant, Liz Bunting, Vikki Hill, Emily Salines

Abstract


Assessment plays a central role in learning in higher education (HE), but often the impact of grading assessment on student motivation, behaviour and wellbeing is insufficiently considered in policy and practice. With the growing concern in the HE sector about student mental health, a consideration of the affective dimension of grading is timely.

The discussion in this paper on the affective dimension of grading is based on research conducted during the pandemic on the ‘no-detriment’ implementation of pass/fail assessment at the University of the Arts London (UAL). Qualitative research was undertaken with first-and second-year undergraduate students in the fields of creative arts, design and communication to investigate the effects of the switch from letter grading to pass/fail and student views on grading more generally. Our findings suggest that grading affects student stress, anxiety, learner identity, motivation, student self-expression, creativity, and peer relationships.

In the light of our findings, we bring together discourses about assessment, grading and student wellbeing to consider the longer-term implications for assessment practices in a post-pandemic world.


Keywords


Grading, pass/fail, emotion, wellbeing.

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.21100/compass.v17i1.1496

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