Wed, 03 Apr 2024
Seminar Series

Dr. Marilyne Stains

University of Virginia

Specifications grading in chemistry courses: Characterizations of implementations and outcomes

Wednesday, April 03, 2024
SSB 7172 @ 3:30 p.m.

Host: Dr. Nabyl Merbouh



Instructional reforms of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses in higher education have mainly focused on the teaching practices of instructors (e.g., increase use of group work). While this focus is essential to meet the goals of equitable educational outcomes in these courses, reforms and empirical investigations of other relevant aspects of teaching and learning have been lagging. One such aspect is assessment, and within this broad category, grading schemes. Alternative grading schemes (e.g., specifications grading) and movements (e.g., ungrading) have emerged in recent years to address the reported flaws of traditional grading systems. Specifications grading, in particular, has seen a gain in popularity over the last few years. While specifications grading is expected by advocates to increase grading transparency, students’ motivation to learn, and to narrow the opportunity gap, empirical investigations testing these expected outcomes are rare. In this study, we explore the extent to which the proposed student-focused outcomes of specifications grading are achieved in chemistry courses and whether there is a differential impact for these outcomes as well as for grades. Data were collected across seven chemistry courses at different institutions across the United States, which represents the largest data set to date exploring the effectiveness of specification grading.