The effect of standards based grading on the developing growth mindset in a high school physics classroom
Davis, Sarah Elizabeth
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This Action Research project investigated the impact of standards-based grading (SBG) on developing a growth mindset for students in a high school physics classroom. Originally termed by Carol Dweck, those with a growth mindset have the innate ability to constantly improve through effort and a willingness to take on challenges. Having this type of mindset should set students up for success regardless of their future profession. However, many students do not possess this mindset. Often students avoid challenges and seek the easiest path towards the highest grade possible, even if this path results in little to no lasting understanding. It is difficult to foster a growth mindset in a classroom using a traditional grading system because students quickly adapt to game the system and receive the best grade possible with the least amount of effort. Instead, the SBG system focuses on understanding and streamlines the gradebook to only reflect student mastery of the content. To succeed in this grading system, students must work on skills such as seeking out feedback and being aware of their own academic misconceptions. At the conclusion of the research process, students became more receptive to feedback and improved their perception of making mistakes. Students reported that SBG gave a better picture of their understanding compared to a traditional gradebook. They also noted that the frequent assessments associated with SBG helped them become more aware of their understanding. Finally, students saw a substantial decrease in test anxiety as their final letter grade was strongly deemphasized and as they gained a better awareness of what their grade truly represented.