09 SES 07 C, Relating Student Performance to Grades, Motivation and Socio-Economic Status
Grades have several explicit functions such as to give information of student attainment, to function as an instrument of selection to the next level in the educational system, and to increase students’ motivation to learn. In many important respects, however, knowledge is limited of how well, and in what ways, these features are met. This would be one reason why the discussion of educational and grading systems seems often to be grounded in ideological conceptions and ideas, and only to a limited extent are based on results from research. For example, the effect of grades on student motivation, learning and achievement has been a controversial question since the beginning of the 1970s and research indicates diverging results (Harlen & Deakin, 2002).
Research has indicated thatexternal rewards have negative effects on student interest, motivation and learning and that students´ motivation to learn diminishes when they receive grades (Condry & Koslowski, 1977; Deci & Ryan, 1987). There are also results that indicate that students who have the ambition to receive high grades choose tasks that lie below their optimum level of learning and they also express less interest to learn and more anxiety related to schoolwork (Harter, 1981). However, there are also research that indicate that students´ level of knowledge are considerable higher in educational systems that use external examinations and this is true for all students no matter their level of performance and family background (Woessmann, 2002).
The results from two previous studies (Klapp Lekholm & Cliffordson, 2008; 2009) show that grades are multidimensional in that they measure both cognitive and non-cognitive aspects of student knowledge, skills and characteristics. The cognitive dimension is primarily measured by student achievement in different subject areas whereas the non-cognitive dimension is primarily measured by student characteristics such as motivation and interest. The results also showed that there are differences due to gender and family background on both the cognitive and non-cognitive dimensions of grades.
Against this background the main purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of grades on student motivation for learning and achievement.
Condry, J., & Koslowski, B. (1977). Can education be made intrinsically interesting to children? Clearinghouse on Early Childhood Education. Washington, D. C.: National Institute of Education. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1987). The support of autonomy and the control of behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 53, 1024-1037. Gustafsson, J.-E., & Stahl, P.-A. (2005). STREAMS 3.0 User´s Guide. Mölndal, Sweden: Multivariateware. Harlen, W., & Deakin, C. R. (2002). A systematic review of the impact of summative assessment and tests on students´ motivation for learning (EPPI-Centre Review, version 1.1). In Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education. Harter, S. (1981). A new self-report scale on intrinsic versus extrinsic orientation in the classroom: Motivational and informational components. Developmental Psychology, 17, 300-312. Klapp Lekholm, A., & Cliffordson, C. (2008). Discrepancies between school grades and test scores at individual and school level: effects of gender and family background. Educational Research and Evaluation, 14(2), 181-199. Klapp Lekholm, A., & Cliffordson, C. (2009). Effects of student characteristics on grades in compulsory school. Educational Research and Evaluation, 15(1), 1-23. Muthén, B., Kaplan, D., & Hollis, M. (1987). On structural equation modeling with data that are not missing completely at random. Psychometrica, 52(3), 431-462. Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (2008). Mplus user´s guide. Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén. Woessmann, L. (2002). How central exams affect educational achievement: International evidence from TIMSS and TIMSS-Repeat (Report PEPG/02-10) Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government.
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