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Abstract

This SoTL project explored sources of student anxiety and motivation across student assessment conditions of traditional numerical grading and pass/fail grading and sought to determine if pass/fail grading was helpful in lowering student anxiety while increasing student motivation to learn. Results indicated that students scored equally well on a test of student learning across pass/fail and numerical grading groups, indicating that pass/fail grading did not lead to poorer course objective mastery. Students were similar in terms of sources of anxiety and levels of anxiety. Motivation across groups was also similar, largely extrinsic in nature, and consistent pre- to post-course. Results coupled with subjective instructor reflection provide some, yet weak, support for the use of pass/fail grading in helping to ease course-related anxiety (at least for some) while still facilitating student development toward course learning goal mastery.

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