Kinds of Grading System

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  • Topic: Grade, Criterion-referenced test, Pattern grading
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  • Published : January 5, 2013
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Grading Systems
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* Norm-Referenced Systems
* Criterion-Referenced Systems
* Other Systems
* Characteristics of a Good Grading System

The two most common types of grading systems used at the University of Minnesota are norm-referenced and criterion-referenced. Many professors combine elements of each of these systems for determining student grades by using a system of anchoring or by presetting grading criteria which are later adjusted based on actual student performance. Norm-Referenced Systems

Definition
In norm-referenced systems, students are evaluated in relationship to one another (e.g., the top 10% of students receive an A, the next 30% a B). This grading system rests on the assumption that the level of student performance will not vary much from class to class. In this system, the instructor usually determines the percentage of students assigned each grade, although it may be determined (or at least influenced) by departmental policy. Advantages

Norm-referenced systems are very easy for instructors to use. They work well in situations requiring rigid differentiation among students, where, for example, due to program size restrictions, only a certain percentage of the students can advance to higher level courses. They are generally appropriate in large courses which do not encourage cooperation among students. Disadvantages

One objection to norm-referenced systems is that an individual's grade is determined not only by his/her achievements, but also by the achievements of others. In a large, non-selective lecture class, you can be fairly confident that the class is representative of the student population; however,in small classes (under 40) the group may not be a representative sample. One student may get an A in a low-achieving section while a fellow student with the same score in a higher-achieving section recieves a B. A second objection to norm-referenced grading is that it promotes competition rather than cooperation. When students are pitted against each other for the few As to be given out, they're less likely to be helpful to each other. Possible Modification

When using a norm-referenced system in a small class, you need to modify the allocation of grades based on the caliber of students in the class. One method of modifying a norm-referenced system is anchoring. Jacobs and Chase in Developing and Using Tests Effectively: A Guide for Faculty (1992), describe the following ways to use an anchor: "If instructors have taught a class several times and have used the same or an equivalent exam, then the distribution of test scores accumulated over many classes can serve as the anchor. The present class is compared with this cumulative distribution to judge the ability level of the group and the appropriate allocation of grades. Anchoring also works well in multi-section courses where the same text, same syllabus, and same examinations are used. The common examination can be used to reveal whether and how the class groups differ in achievement, and the grade in the individual sections can be adjusted accordingly.... If an instructor is teaching a class for the first time and has no other scores for comparison, a relevant and well-constructed teacher-made pretest may be used as an anchor." Modifying the norm-referenced system by anchoring also helps mitigate feelings of competition among students since they may feel they are not directly in competition with each other. Before deciding on a norm-referenced system, consider:

* What is your expected class size? If your class size is smaller than 40, do not use a norm-referenced system unless you use anchoring to modify it. * Is it important for students to work cooperatively in this class (e.g., form study groups or work on team projects)? If the answer is yes, a norm-referenced system is not appropriate for your class. Criterion-Referenced Systems

Definition
Norm-referenced tests measure students relative to each other....
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