Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2012

Publication Title

Active Learning in Higher Education

Volume

13

Issue

1

First Page

51

Last Page

61

DOI

10.1177/1469787411429187

Keywords

academic achievement, academic grading, academic orientation, effort, personality traits, student attitudes

Abstract

Factors influencing student perceptions of academic grading were examined, with an emphasis on furthering understanding of the relevance of effort to students’ conceptualization of grading. Students demonstrated a conceptualization of grading where effort should be weighted comparably to actual performance in importance to the composition of a grade, with the expectation that grade allocation should reflect this perception. Students suggested a compensatory effect of effort in grade assignment, where a subjectively perceived high level of effort was expected to supplement low performance on a task. Furthermore, students perceived professors as less fair and less competent when they were perceived to not be able to adequately account for students’ subjective perception of effort. In addition, student perceptions of grading were examined in relation to student-possessed learning orientation (LO), grade orientation (GO), and aspects of personality. Prototypically, individuals high in LO tend to be motivated by the acquisition of knowledge, while those high in GO tend to be driven by the acquisition of high grades. Conscientiousness, openness and age contributed significantly to and positively predicted LO. Inversely, conscientiousness, openness and age contributed significantly to and negatively predicted GO while neuroticism positively predicted this orientation. Students appear to place a heavy amount of importance on professor consideration of effort, despite recognizing the realistic difficulties in determining effort. The potential for an emerging student mentality is discussed, where students’ perception of grading is distorted by a subjective appraisal of their own effort.

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