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Physical Review Physics Education Research
written by David J. Webb, Cassandra A. Paul, and Mary K. Chessey
In deciding on a student's grade in a class, an instructor generally needs to combine many individual grading judgments into one overall judgment. Two relatively common numerical scales used to specify individual grades are the 4-point scale (where each whole number 0–4 corresponds to a letter grade) and the percent scale (where letter grades A through D are uniformly distributed in the top 40% of the scale). This paper uses grading data from a single series of courses offered over a period of 10 years to show that the grade distributions emerging from these two grade scales differed in many ways from each other. Evidence suggests that the differences are due more to the grade scale than to either the students or the instructors. One major difference is that the fraction of students given grades less than C- was over 5 times larger when instructors used the percent scale. The fact that each instructor who used both grade scales gave more than 4 times as many of these low grades under percent scale grading suggests that the effect is due to the grade scale rather than the instructor. When the percent scale was first introduced in these courses in 2006, one of the authors of this paper, who is also one of the instructors in this dataset, had confidently predicted that any changes in course grading would be negligible. They were not negligible, even for this instructor.
Physical Review Physics Education Research: Volume 16, Issue 2, Pages 020114
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Classical Mechanics
- General
Education - Basic Research
- Assessment
= Summative Assessment
- Research Design & Methodology
= Evaluation
= Statistics
- Sample Population
General Physics
- Physics Education Research
= Reform Sustainability
- Lower Undergraduate
- High School
- Reference Material
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License:
This material is released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.
Rights Holder:
American Physical Society
DOI:
10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.020114
Keywords:
10-point Percent Scale, 4-point grading scale, Grading scale comparison, Percent grading scale
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created May 12, 2021 by Bruce Mason
Record Updated:
June 23, 2022 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
August 27, 2020
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AIP Format
D. Webb, C. Paul, and M. Chessey, Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 16 (2), 020114 (2020), WWW Document, (https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.020114).
AJP/PRST-PER
D. Webb, C. Paul, and M. Chessey, Relative impacts of different grade scales on student success in introductory physics, Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 16 (2), 020114 (2020), <https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.020114>.
APA Format
Webb, D., Paul, C., & Chessey, M. (2020, August 27). Relative impacts of different grade scales on student success in introductory physics. Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res., 16(2), 020114. Retrieved July 4, 2022, from https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.020114
Chicago Format
Webb, D, C. Paul, and M. Chessey. "Relative impacts of different grade scales on student success in introductory physics." Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 16, no. 2, (August 27, 2020): 020114, https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.020114 (accessed 4 July 2022).
MLA Format
Webb, David, Cassandra Paul, and Mary K. Chessey. "Relative impacts of different grade scales on student success in introductory physics." Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. 16.2 (2020): 020114. 4 July 2022 <https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.020114>.
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@article{ Author = "David Webb and Cassandra Paul and Mary K. Chessey", Title = {Relative impacts of different grade scales on student success in introductory physics}, Journal = {Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res.}, Volume = {16}, Number = {2}, Pages = {020114}, Month = {August}, Year = {2020} }
Refer Export Format

%A David Webb %A Cassandra Paul %A Mary K. Chessey %T Relative impacts of different grade scales on student success in introductory physics %J Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. %V 16 %N 2 %D August 27, 2020 %P 020114 %U https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.020114 %O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Journal Article %A Webb, David %A Paul, Cassandra %A Chessey, Mary K. %D August 27, 2020 %T Relative impacts of different grade scales on student success in introductory physics %J Phys. Rev. Phys. Educ. Res. %V 16 %N 2 %P 020114 %8 August 27, 2020 %U https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevPhysEducRes.16.020114


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