Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Effects of Grades, Praise, and Source of Information

I remember reading something several months ago that talked about how grades actually hurt students. Of course I am a "Throwing Out Grades" information junkie, and I tend to read a lot of information and forget where I read it. This is one reason I have decided to start writing these posts in this blog.

So, I started looking for that article again a few weeks ago, and I think I found it (or at least I found something like it). Here is the link to the article:

Response to Assessment Feedback: The Effects of Grades, Praise, and Source of Information

Of course with most research articles I don't read the whole thing. I usually will jump to the conclusion and just read that so that I can find out their findings. One of the greatest parts that I read was:

Detailed, specific, descriptive feedback, which focuses students’ attention on their work rather than the self, is the most advantageous kind of information that should be provided to students. The benefit of such feedback occurs at all levels of performance. Evaluative feedback in the form of grades may be helpful if no other options are available and can beneficially be accompanied by some form of encouragement. At the same time, grades were shown to decrease the effect of detailed feedback. It appears that this occurs because it reduces a sense of self-efficacy and elicits negative affect around the assessment task.
So, what I am gathering from this article is that detailed feedback is the BEST thing we can do for students. Even if we give feedback to students, once we slap a letter or number grade on the assignment, the feedback is totally lost.

I shared this with a few friends as well. One friend mentioned the following quote from the article:

Overall, detailed, descriptive feedback was found to be most effective when given alone, unaccompanied by grades or praise.
So, even giving praise can diminish the feedback. Interesting.

Another friend did point out that this research was done with college students. This then begs the question: "Does this same thing happen with high school, middle school, or elementary school students?" I personally don't know, but I would guess that it does.

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