We found some interesting results when we explored the influence of grades in this study.
Although grades provided a level of superficial reassurance that students were “on track” to graduate as a doctor, failure to provide grades appeared ultimately more helpful to students. Although left feeling initially uncertain, the lack of grade labels in time enabled students to appreciate the finer nuances of individual strengths and weakness, both in them and among their peers. This links to recent work which demonstrated the complex relationship students have with grades in a workplace setting. In that study, the majority of students wanted to receive grades on their assessments as they provided calibration about their progress towards graduation. However, in some students, satisfactory grades appeared to induce a degree of complacency, and nearly a quarter of students expressed a preference for feedback without grades.
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