The purpose of this study was to explore Chinese university professors’ decisions about ethical issues in classroom assessment. A survey with fifteen scenarios that describe professors’ thoughts about ethics in assessment practices was administrated to 555 professors from 143 colleges and universities in 29 provinces in China. The results of the quantitative analysis indicated that professors’ interest in professional development related to classroom assessment, and their dispositions were significantly associated with their agreement with experts in the field of classroom assessment. Professors’ gender, highest degree, professional rank, and years of teaching experience did not significantly predict their agreement. The qualitative analysis revealed that maintaining fair assessment vs being caring to students and asserting professors’ rights vs abiding by university policy were the crucial aspects for professors to consider in classroom assessment. Findings of the study could help educators identify ethical issues in assessment, develop guidelines to ensure fair assessment, and incorporate differentiated strategies in professional development workshops in higher education.
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Appendix: Scenarios and percent of respondents who agreed with experts
Appendix: Scenarios and percent of respondents who agreed with experts
|1. To enhance self-esteem, a professor addresses only students' strengths when giving feedback to her students’ assignments since she believes that positive feedback is good for students’ growth||48.0|
|10. A professor who knows a student had a bad week because of problems at home bumps the student's participation grade up a few points to compensate for his bad score on a quiz||63.3|
|Communication about grading|
|5. For the class-level final exam, a professor uses a few surprise items about additional topics that were covered in class but were not listed in the study guide||9.4|
|7. When assigning a team project to work on collaboratively, a professor does not provide rubrics on how it will be graded, stating instead that he will assign a score based on students’ overall performance on the project||31.4|
|11. At the beginning of the semester, a professor shares with students the rubrics for each task. The professor leads students in a discussion about the rubrics, makes changes to the rubrics according to students’ feedback, and gives students the final versions to guide their completion of the course tasks||92.5|
|2. A professor does not grade all class-level quizzes. Instead, he lets students grade each other’s paper and then share the results in groups||19.9|
|9. At the beginning of the class, when a student requests to see her grade of a final exam, her professor shows the student the whole score sheet that includes all students’ final scores||73.2|
|4. As a professor finalizes grades, she notices the grade of a student is in between B+ and A−. She gave the student an A− because tests and papers showed the student had mastered the course objectives even though he had not completed some of his homework assignments||80.8|
|8. In grading a final exam, a professor always reads the student’s name and considers effort in assigning grades||65.0|
|12. A professor is concerned that most students did not perform well on the class-level mid-term test. Based on the results, it has become mathematically impossible for about 70% of students to earn a passing grade. Thus, the professor adds 20 points to each student’s mid-term score to make sure most students still have a chance to pass at the end of the semester||63.9|
|15. A college professor counts students’ attendance as 20% of their final grades||17.8|
|Multiple assessment opportunities|
|3. A professor uses observational checklists, anecdotal notes, and interviews in assessing students||87.2|
|14. An instructor uses only multiple-choice questions in the end-of-course exam. She justifies this practice by stating multiple-choice questions can be graded objectively and efficiently||71.7|
|6. While administering a final exam, a professor notices that a student has skipped a problem and is recording all of her answers out of sequence on the answer sheet. The professor shows the student where to record the answer she is working on, and instructs the student to put the answer to each question with the same number on the answer sheet||34.0|
|13. While administering a class-level mid-term test, a professor notices that most students missed the same question. The professor reminds all students to check their answers to that question one more time||80.2|
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Fan, X., Liu, X. & Johnson, R.L. A mixed method study of ethical issues in classroom assessment in Chinese higher education. Asia Pacific Educ. Rev. 21, 183–195 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12564-019-09623-y
- Classroom assessment
- Higher education
- Ethical issues
- Mixed method