Relationship between Learning and Grading

To understand the relationship between evaluation and learning, we need to understand the evaluation pattern currently in use. Level 1, shows superficial concern on the work done by students. It takes for granted that the work done by students must be graded. Level 2 asks if traditional assessment or ‘authentic’ evaluation, which would delve deeper into students achievements? Level 3 enquires the need of evaluating students. The idea of wanting to know about the student performance itself is objectionable.
Labeling students on the basis of performance often misjudges them. Student performance does not show any improvement on strict assessment. On the other hand, when it is easier to score, the learners do not put inferior work. Often the same teacher may put different grades to the same work when assessed at two different times. Thus the variation in score indicates subjective assessment .It makes learning incompatible.
Motivation is an important aspect of assessment. If the motivation is inherent, then the student learns for his own sake, on the other hand, when the motivation is external, learning is for a purpose, the purpose being escaping a punishment or expecting a reward. Both are conflicting in nature. The findings reveal that student’s performance suffers and they exhibit lesser interest and focus on the task, if they know that they will be graded. Rote learning falls apart when the students know that they will be graded. Japanese students exhibit less interest in the subject and willingness to answer difficult questions, when they know they would be examined. Thus using grades to evaluate students made them lower interest, instill the fear of failure and disheartened their learning and creativity. (Butler and Nissan 1986, P.215).

Some educators believe that providing feedback in form of grades is inadequate. It does not tell the student, where he or she went wrong, and the scope for improvement. Eric Schaps (1993) designed the ‘demand’ and ‘support’ models. The demand model highlights the student’s performance as ‘chosen’ and ‘earned’ making education an investment and preparation of a future worker. The ‘support ‘model is learner oriented making students responsible in the tasks they have chosen. It teaches that supportive and engaging environment is wanted more than improvement.
The 5 main principles of assessment are – 1.In no way should evaluation stop curiosity or instill fear. 2. Interest sparked in students can be read by observation by experienced teachers. 3. School can become a caring place, making students feel free to discuss problems and seek help. 4. Assessment should be directly related to quality of curriculum. It is important to know if the student has received anything worthwhile from the curriculum.5 Students to play a decisive role in evaluation, to know that it is a learning experience.
In case Grades are a must, it is important that they are supplemented by adequate comments. Gradation should not be done, while the students are still learning. A teacher should not mark students on a curve, saying only few are eligible for top marks. It is destructive to the self esteem of the student. Grades should never be given for effort, for it creates an opposite effect. Teachers need to keep an eye on the interest level of the curriculum too.

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