Strong emotions when students receive grades in year 4

Strong emotions when students receive grades in year 4
  • Ekot has read the research report that will form the basis for the National Agency for Education’s evaluation of the experimental activities with grades in year 4.
  • Grades arouse strong emotions in students and can lead to a focus on assessments that are about measuring results, rather than increasing knowledge.
  • A positive consequence of early grades may be that teachers talk more about the knowledge goals and what it is the students should be able to, according to the report

Now researchers have investigated how children who receive grades so early are affected.

– You have to be aware that there are children who get sad, really sad. We have several examples of this in the report on children who express that they give up, or ignore this and then you should think that this is the first grade they get and that they are 10 years old, says Håkan Löfgren who is an assistant professor at Linköping University and who led the research study.

He has previously investigated how students were affected by grades in grade 6. Does he see any difference?

– There are individual students who are very affected by the context when they receive the grades. I did not see such cases in year 6, he says.

The experimental activity with grades in year four, which 12 schools are participating in now, which began in 2017 and which ends this summer, came about after a political battle. The agreement included that the National Agency for Education should evaluate the experiment. And this research report, which Ekots has read, will form the basis for that evaluation. The researchers followed five selected schools and compared with some schools that did not introduce grades.

The selection is thus small, in addition, the schools were special, according to Håkan Löfgren. They had already had a clearly developed way of working with assessments of students. But it is still possible to point out the consequences that principals who want to introduce grades, need to prepare for.

– I also see it as a risk that you focus more on assessments that are about being able to report a result than that you should invest in assessments that will help students move forward in their learning.

The grades and others assessments may govern both teaching and students’ motivation, according to the report. It can lead to strong pressure on students, on both high-performing students and those who have more difficulty in school, says Håkan Löfgren

– If you listen to the students, it is very difficult to predict whether grades lead to increased motivation or if it leads to increased stress and anxiety. They express both and they exist as at all levels of knowledge, so to speak.

Regarding students in need of support, Håkan Löfgren could see that teachers more quickly sought help from special education staff when a student risks failing, in schools with grades in grade 4. At the same time, the teachers also expressed that they already had knowledge of the need for support even without grades. There was a concern among some special education staff that students in need of special support may be negatively affected by grades, says Håkan Löfgren

– That it becomes so very clear to them that they have problems and that other classmates in the environment also see that they have problems, he says.

But what are the benefits? That students can become more interested in what they should be able to do and that teachers become better at assessing students

– I think a really good thing is that the teachers talk more about the knowledge goals and they talk about what the students should be able to do. Then I can think that it has a downside, that you talk a lot of criteria sometimes and that there is a certain type of assessments that are prioritized in those conversations, says Håkan Löfgren

Source: ICELAND NEWS


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