The black box of grading

B. P. Godor, published on September 5, 2016, Erasmus University Rotterdam. One of the most important things that students get from university is their grades. This quote from Aiken from the 1960’s still seems very valid today. But questioning the black box that surrounds grading and assessment almost amounts to colleagues heresy.

This study examined the grading standards among 11 faculties using students’ pre-entry grades as an indicator for academic strength. The initial analysis revealed that equally strong students would receive significantly different grades if they enrolled in an other faculty. This is evidence of differential grading standards. Subsequent analysis revealed that faculties that had the strongest academic students enrolled had the most stringent grading standards. Equally, faculties that had the weakest academic students has the least stringent grading standards. This is evidence of adaptation theory. In other words, teachers appear to take into consideration the normal academic level of the enrolled students when assessing students work instead of judging students work on it true merits.

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