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Standards-based grading involves assessment of student development towards achieving the course objectives throughout the duration of a course. Final course grades are then determined based on students’ overall development towards achieving the course objectives. There have been no studies to date that investigate this specific system for undergraduate science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. This groundbreaking study involves the implementation of standards-based grading in a sophomore-level undergraduate course in Mechanics of Materials. The goals of this study are: 1) to obtain insight in how to best implement standards-based grading in an undergraduate STEM course, and 2) to obtain a sense of how students respond to standards-based grading. Students (N=30) were asked two questions at the end of the course: 1) if the standards-based grading system is more conducive to learning than the traditional, summative score-based grading system, and 2) if they prefer standards-based grading to the traditional grading system. The preliminary results suggest that the vast majority of the students, at a minimum, agree that standards-based grading is more conducive to learning (89.3%) and that they prefer standards-based grading (85.7%). Student comments also support the quantitive results. In addition, this study provides significant insight regarding implementation of standards-based grading for undergraduate courses in STEM.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Siniawski MT, Carberry AR, Dionisio JDN. “Standards-based grading: An alternative to score-based assessment.” In Proceedings of the 2012 ASEE PSW Section Conference; San Luis Obispo, California, April 19–21, 2012.