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What's New in Research on Teaching and Learning: Motivation and Learning in the Context of Grades

  • Center for Teaching Excellence Herring 129 Houston, TX 77005 (map)

The Elephant in the Classroom: Motivation and Learning in the Context of Grades

Betsy Barre
Associate Director
Center for Teaching Excellence

Like their peers at other elite institutions, Rice undergraduates are under incredible pressure to earn high grades. And whether that pressure is social, familial, or self-imposed, the effects are similar and far reaching. From a faculty perspective, the most evident consequence of this pressure is that our students often respond quite negatively when they earn less-than-ideal grades. And we sometimes worry that our collective response to these reactions threatens the integrity of the traditional grading system. 

But the consequences of our students' anxiety about grades, as well as our reaction to that anxiety, extend far beyond grade inflation. They also have important implications for how our students approach our courses and, by extension, how much they are able to learn. In this talk, CTE Associate Director Betsy Barre will summarize what we know about the relationship between grade expectations, grading practices, and the motivation to learn.  She will then suggest strategies to minimize the negative consequences of our students' sensitivity to grades.

This lecture is open to all within the Rice community. Pizza will be served.