John Charles Ritzler
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Teaching, Learning and Leadership
Title: An investigation on the impact of the structure
of summative student evaluation on self-regulated learning
Dr. Jianping Shen, Chair
Dr. Sue Poppink
Dr. William Waters
August 6, 2003, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
3209 Sangren Hall
Many hypotheses have been offered regarding the
impact on learning caused by the most traditional practice of summative
student evaluation, namely that of assigning marks to students. Sufficient
evidence exists to suggest this practice often has detrimental effects.
This study was designed to investigate the following three questions:
1. How does the method of summative student evaluation impact self-regulated
learning in low-achieving high school mathematics students?
2. How does the cognitive level of the task mediate the relationship
between method of summative student evaluation and self-regulated learning?
3. How does the length of time students are exposed to a method of summative
student evaluation impact self-regulated learning?
The study was conducted in the context of three high school summer school
mathematics classrooms. In one classroom, quizzes were given and traditional
letter grades were assigned. In a second classroom, quizzes were given,
however they were only graded with a mark of credit or no-credit. In
the third classroom no quizzes were given. Four lessons were taught
in each classroom.
Data was collected through the videotaping of each class, the collection
of artifacts of student work, and the interviewing of four students
from each classroom. A qualitative analysis of the data revealed evidences
of self-regulated learning in each classroom, across levels of cognitive
difficulty and across time. This led to the conclusion that the traditional
practice of assigning letter grades to students was likely neither a
required prerequisite to self-regulated learning nor a deterrent.
Although the impact of the instructional methodology was not a question
this study was designed to address, the qualitative nature of the data
allowed for the discovery that a constructivist methodology may have
a positive impact on self-regulated learning within the structure of
any of the three summative evaluation conditions. In addition, a limited
amount of evidence was found to suggest self-regulated learning may
increase given a longer exposure to a classroom in which no marks were
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