Volume 9 Issue 1 (2020)

Why are There Different Grading Practices Based on Students’ Choice of Business Major?

pp. 43-57  |  Published Online: March 2020  |  DOI: 10.22521/edupij.2020.91.3

Leiv Opstad

Abstract

There is a considerable amount of focus on the grading systems applied in higher education, as it is an important tool for ranking undergraduate students’ in terms of their academic success. Several studies have suggested that different grading practices exist among various colleges. This is also the case in Norway, even though the intention is to ensure that the same score is awarded independent of the individual institution. This study will explore the grading practices within a business school in Norway. Since the students can choose different pathways in their third year of undergraduate study, the academic composition of students can vary. Students with good grades mostly prefer Accounting or Finance, whilst those performing below average tend to select Marketing or Management. This composition variance causes differences in the grading pattern, as it is relative easier to achieve a good grade where the peer students are less qualified. This also has a gender effect, since females generally opt to study Marketing or Management, hence the average female student may benefit from a less rigorous grade assessment within these fields.

Keywords: Grading practice, higher education, business school, business courses, gender.

References

Aggarwal, P., Vaidyanathan, R., & Rochford, L. (2007). The wretched refuse of a teeming shore? A critical examination of the quality of undergraduate marketing students. Journal of Marketing Education, 29(3), 223-233. https://doi.org/10.1177/0273475307306888

Aiken, L. R., Jr. (1963). The grading behavior of a college faculty. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 23(2), 319-322. https://doi.org/10.1177/001316446302300209

Ahn, T., Arcidiacono, P., Hopson, A., & Thomas, J. R. (2018). Equilibrium Grade Inflation With Implications for Female Interest in STEM Majors. NBER Working Paper Series 26556, National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from http://public.econ.duke.edu/~psarcidi/aahtmasterdocfinal.pdf

Barth, M. M., Liu, J., & Wells, W. H. (2009). A comparative analysis of grading practices by discipline within a college of business. Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, 13(4), 93-108. Retrieved from https://www.abacademies.org/articles/aeljvol13no42009.pdf

Bonesrønning, H. (1999). The variation in teachers’ grading practices: Causes and consequences. Economics of Education Review, 18(1), 89-106. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0272-7757(98)00012-0

Bonesrønning, H. (2004). Do the teachers’ grading practices affect student achievement? Education Economics, 12(2), 151-167. https://doi.org/10.1080/0964529042000239168

Bonesrønning, H., & Opstad, L. (2015). Can student effort be manipulated? Does it matter? Applied Economics, 47(15), 1511-1524. https://doi.org/10.1080/00036846.2014.997923

Clayson, D. E., Frost, T. F., & Sheffet, M. J. (2006). Grades and the student evaluation of instruction: A test of the reciprocity effect. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 5(1), 52-65. https://doi.org/10.5465/amle.2006.20388384

Eiszler, C. F. (2002). College students’ evaluations of teaching and grade inflation. Research in Higher Education, 43, 483-501. https://doi.org/10.1023/a:1015579817194

Fairchild, C., & Hahn, W. (2019). Accounting and finance majors outperform other majors on the major field test in business and the Comprehensive Business Exam: An analysis of exam performance drivers. Journal of Education for Business. Advance Online Publication. https://doi.org/10.1080/08832323.2019.1653249

Friday, E., Friday-Stroud, S. S., Green, A. L., & Hill, A. Y. (2006). A multi-semester comparison of student performance between multiple traditional and online sections of two management courses. Journal of Behavioral & Applied Management, 8(1), 66-81. https://doi.org/10.1108/00251740510589742

Hahn, W. (2018). Assurance of Learning: An Evaluation of How Grade Inflation and Course Pedagogy Impacts Students’ Learning Sustainability in Business Core Courses. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 18(2), 128-137. https://doi.org/10.33423/jhetp.v18i2.552

Hoefer, P., Yurkiewicz, J., & Byrne, J. C. (2012). The association between students’ evaluation of teaching and grades. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 10(3), 447-459. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4609.2012.00345

Hu, S. (2005). Beyond grade inflation: Grading problems in higher education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Johnson, M., Robson, D., & Taengnoi, S. (2014). A meta-analysis of the gender gap in performance in collegiate economics courses. Review of Social Economy, 72(4), 436-459. https://doi.org/10.1080/00346764.2014.958902

Keiser, H. N., Sackett, P. R., Kuncel, N. R., & Brothen, T. (2016). Why women perform better in college than admission scores would predict: Exploring the roles of conscientiousness and course-taking patterns. Journal of Applied Psychology, 101(4), 569-581. https://doi.org/10.1037/apl0000069

Kezim, B., Pariseau, S. E., & Quinn, F. (2005). Is grade inflation related to faculty status? Journal of Education for Business, 80(6), 358-364. https://doi.org/10.3200/joeb.80.6.358-364

Mavruk, T. (2019). Do men outperform women in finance classes? Journal of International Business Education, 14, 75-98. Retrieved from https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3499690

Marini, J., Shaw, E., Young, L., & Ewing, M. (2018). Getting to Know Your Criterion: Examining College Course Grades and GPAs over Time. The College Board. Retrieved from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED582569.pdf

Mattern, K., Sanchez, E., & Ndum, E. (2017). Why do achievement measures underpredict female academic performance? Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, 36(1), 47-57. https://doi.org/10.1111/emip.12138

Møen, J., & Tjelta, M. (2010). Grading standards, student ability and errors in college admission. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 54(3), 221-237. https://doi.org/10.1080/00313831003764503

Opstad, L., & Årethun, T. (2020). Skills, gender and performance matter when undergraduate business students choose specialization within business courses. Working paper, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway.

Rojstaczer, S., & Healy, C. (2012). Where A is ordinary: The evolution of American college and university grading, 1940-2009. Teachers College Record, 114(7), Article 070306.

Sabot, R., & Wakeman-Linn, J. (1991). Grade inflation and course choice. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 5(1), 159-170. https://doi.org/10.1257/jep.5.1.159

Sadler, D. R. (2005). Interpretations of criteria‐based assessment and grading in higher education. Assessment & evaluation in higher education, 30(2), 175-194. https://doi.org/10.1080/0260293042000264262

Sadler, D. R. (2009). Grade integrity and the representation of academic achievement. Studies in Higher Education, 34(7), 807-826. https://doi.org/10.1080/0260293042000264262

Sonner, B. S. (2000). A is for “adjunct”: Examining grade inflation in higher education. Journal of Education for Business, 76(1), 5-8. https://doi.org/10.1080/08832320009599042

Strøm, B., Falch, T., Gunnes, T., & Haraldsvik, M. (2013) Karakterbruk og kvalitet i høyere utdanning. M. SØF-rapport nr. 03/13. Retrieved from https://www.regjeringen.no/globalassets/upload/kd/karakterbruk_og_kvalitet_i_hoyere_utdanning.pdf (In Norwegian only)

Walstad, W. B., & Miller, L. A. (2016). What’s in a grade? Grading policies and practices in principles of economics. The Journal of Economic Education, 47(4), 338-350. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220485.2016.1213683

Zölitz, U., & Feld, J. (2019). The Effect of Peer Gender on Major Choice in Business School. University of Zurich, Department of Economics. Working Paper 270. https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3071681

Announcement

COPE Membership

Educational Process: International Journal is a member of and subscribes to the principles of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).