Deficiencies of Traditional Grading Systems and Recommendations for the Future

Jeffrey Cain, Melissa Medina, Frank Romanelli, Adam Persky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective To review the issues surrounding the use of grades in the educational process and provide evidence-based recommendations for how to re-design grading practices for optimal value.Findings Traditional, multi-tiered grading systems (ie, A, B, C, etc.) have historically been a major component of the formal educational process. The way grades are used and interpreted are typically based on some commonly held assumptions including that they are accurate measures of learning, that they motivate students to learn, and that they provide feedback to learners. However, much of the research regarding grades indicates that there are flaws in these assumptions. Grades may not always accurately measure learning, they can have adverse effects on student motivation, and they are not a good form of feedback.Summary The Academy should consider the evidence regarding the purpose, effects, and interpretation of grades in the educational process. Despite barriers and potential pushback, pharmacy educators should revise grading practices to be more accurate, interpretable, and beneficial to learner development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8850
JournalAmerican Journal of Pharmaceutical Education
StateE-pub ahead of print - Nov 23 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.


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