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College Grades: An Exploratory Study of Policies and Practices

Ekstrom, Ruth B.; Villegas, Ana Maria
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Report
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
College Faculty, Colleges, Grading, Surveys, Trend Analysis


This study examined policies and practices related to grading at 14 colleges and universities and how they had changed between 1980 and 1990. It also examined the grading orientation and practices of over 500 faculty members in the business, chemistry, education, English, history, mathematics, and psychology departments of these institutions. The study sought information to answer four questions: (1) What are the current institutional and/or departmental grading policies and practices?; (2) Were there changes in these policies and practices between 1980 and 1990 and, if so, what was the nature of the changes?; (3) What are the current grading orientation and practices of faculty who teach undergraduate courses? Have these changed over time?; and (4) Do faculty grading orientation and practices differ across departments and, if so, how? Institutional changes between 1980 and 1990 that may have affected grades included greater prescription of the curriculum, greater differentiation in grading systems, and increased use of student evaluations of faculty members. (38pp.)

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