Calculus I courses have traditionally used a Points-Based Grading (PBG) system to assign student grades. In PBG, student work on tests, quizzes, and homework is assigned a numerical score based on correctness, and a weighted average of these scores is translated to a course percentage or letter grade. However, PBG has a number of undesirable features as a grading system. First, a student’s percentage grade does not necessarily match their actual understanding of course content. Second, tests and quizzes and a PBG system measure student performance at certain time points, without opportunities to show later growth. Finally, different instructors may assign different amounts of points to the same work, creating opportunities for bias within the grading system.
In Standards-Based Grading (SBG), by contrast, grades are assigned based on student mastery of certain learning outcomes. Each attempt to demonstrate mastery of a learning outcome is graded pass/fail, but students have ample opportunities to reassess. SBG improves on the issues with PBG discussed above and has been shown to improve student experiences in lower-division math courses.
This project will implement SBG in multiple sections of Calculus I at California State University, Monterey Bay and at Hartnell College. During the Fall semester, faculty from both campuses will collaborate to develop SBG grading schemes, curricular materials, syllabi, and assessments. Then in the Spring semester, faculty will use the developed materials in their Calculus I courses. To assess the impact of SBG on Calculus I students, data will be collected (in both SBG and PBG sections) on student work on common assessment problems, student grades, and student perceptions of the course. The project will include 8-10 faculty members and will impact approximately 500 Calculus I students.