Grades are a high motivator for students, but are often valued more as contributors to GPA than as reflections of what is truly learned within a course. Standards-based grading (SBG) is an alternative and revolutionary approach to assessing students at the undergraduate level. SBG directly measures the quality of students’ development towards achieving well-defined course objectives. This approach addresses the need in higher education to assess actual student learning. SBG has been implemented in K-12 learning environments (research-based), but no formal studies outside our pilot studies have been conducted to date that evaluate this new grading system in higher education (research-generating) - our proposed project is the first of its kind that specifically targets engineering education.
The goals of this educational research effort are to: (1) formally establish the structure and components of a SBG system for engineering project courses, (2) assess the effects of SBG in engineering project courses, and (3) establish a collaborative network of scholars committed to implementing and advancing SBG within engineering education. These goals will be accomplished by providing effective design and implementation strategies for SBG, building an understanding of the impact SBG can have on instructors and students, and commencing widespread dissemination of SBG through multiple outlets.