Are Grades and Effective Means of Motivation?

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Grades are an effective means of motivating students to do their best work.

Believing:
Grades are often seen to be one of, if not the most effective method of motivating a student to work to their fullest potential. For example, a student who receives an A-grade is going to be encouraged by the grade, as they see it to be an affirmation of their academic efforts. An A-student views their grade with pride, and will work very hard to maintain said grade, once achieved. An example of this is as follows. John recently received an A on his Math test. He then goes home with a sense of pride, bragging about it to all of his friends. John now realizes that he must keep up the good work and continue to work hard for school, in order to continue to feel as good as he does today. Conversely, a failing student will regard his/her grades with shame, and will be more motivated to raise their grade from the gutter as a result. An example of this is as follows. John receives an F for failing to complete an assignment on time. As a reaction to this, John decides that he will turn his life around completely and alter his studying habits so that he turns in his assignments on time in the future. In conclusion, grades are by all means the most effective way of motivating a student to excel.

Doubting:
Grades are the least effective way of motivating a student. This can be said with such certainty due to the very nature of grades themselves. They serve to rank students against each other. Personally, when I feel as though somebody is putting me up against a friend, I feel much less willing to work harder for the class than if they were to simply tell me what I needed to change in order to excel. The Whitehall Study, performed in England 1967, has shown us with certainty that humans placed in a competitive hierarchical situation over prolonged periods of time will increase their chances of gaining cardiovascular disease by 40%. This shows us that students placed under similar...
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