published on April 10, 2021
The Two Types of Grades and Why They Matter to Ethics Education
In-course marks and final grades each have their own nature and purpose and conflating the two does a disservice to both. Final grades represent a fixed and final statement about how a student did in the course in the end. They are a communication between the professor and anyone who will pick up that student’s transcript someday. In-course marks, by contrast, are a communication between the professor and student alone, and ought to be representative of an ongoing conversation about how the student is currently doing in the course. They are subject to change with each lecture, assessment, and conversation, and should embody that dynamism and potential for progress. Building upon the pedagogical concepts of differentiated learning, growth mindset, and backward course design, this paper will examine the advantages of differentiating between the two types of grades and present three grading models that incorporate the distinction.