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Does Rank-Order Grading Improve Student Performance: Evidence from a Classroom Experiment


  • Todd L. Cherry
  • Larry Ellis


This paper reports results from a unique classroom experiment that explored the potential of using rank-order grading to improve student performance and learning. Findings suggest that student performance is significantly improved when facing a grading system based on student ranking (norm-reference grading) rather than performance standards (criterion-reference grading). The improved outcomes from rank-order grading largely arise among the high performers, but not at the expense of low performers. Results indicate rank-ordering may eliminate the incentive for high performing students to "stop" once they achieve a stated objective, while not diminishing the incentive for lower performing students.
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  • Todd L. Cherry & Larry Ellis, 2004. "Does Rank-Order Grading Improve Student Performance: Evidence from a Classroom Experiment," Working Papers 04-03, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:apl:wpaper:04-03

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lester Hadsell & Raymond MacDermott, 2012. "Faculty Perceptions of Grades: Results from a National Survey of Economics Faculty," International Review of Economic Education, Economics Network, University of Bristol, vol. 11(1), pages 16-35.

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