Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > The promise and pitfalls of gradeless learning

Electronic data

  • promise-and-pitfalls-of-gradeless-learning (accepted)

    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Further and Higher Education on 26/06/2020, available online: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0309877X.2019.1619073

    Accepted author manuscript, 320 KB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 26/12/21

    Available under license: CC BY-NC: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Links

Text available via DOI:

View graph of relations

The promise and pitfalls of gradeless learning: responses to an alternative approach to grading

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/08/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Further and Higher Education
Issue number7
Volume44
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)925–938
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date26/06/19
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

This paper examines an alternative approach to grading at a public university in Singapore. Beginning in 2014, all incoming students were given a ‘grade-free’ period of assessment. This was designed to give new students time to adjust to university life and to inspire students to approach their learning free from the worry of grades. Similar to pass/ fail systems elsewhere around the world, this example of what we call ‘gradeless learning’ reflects long-term national aims of reducing society’s emphasis on the letter- and number-based grades and developing a country of lifelong learners. This paper shares student and faculty reaction to the alternative approach to grading, through four surveys conducted during the 18 months following its implementation. Over 3000 responses from students and nearly 500 responses from faculty reveal both groups recognise the potential of gradeless learning to positively impact student learning and well-being, by helping students adjust to university life and encouraging them to take more academic risks without worrying about grades. However, both groups cite problems with gradeless learning, namely poor learning attitudes and behaviours,
which arise when grades can no longer be relied on to motivate learning. Faculty members, in particular, feel frustrated by their lack of an active role in this alternative approach to grading, which was designed exclusively to benefit students. This study suggests that the success of gradeless learning anywhere requires the support of faculty partners, who must be integral in developing pedagogical innovations that can help de-emphasise grades as a way to motivate and measure learning.

Bibliographic note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Further and Higher Education on 26/06/2020, available online: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0309877X.2019.1619073