Evaluating students in the classroom and clinical practice provides the basis for assigning a grade for the course. The grade is a symbol reflecting the achievement of students in that course. In addition to grading the course as a whole, grades are given for individual assignments, quizzes, tests, and other learning activities completed by students throughout the course. This chapter examines the uses of grades in nursing programs, problems with grading, grading frameworks, and how to compute grades for nursing courses.
In earlier chapters there was extensive discussion about formative and summative evaluation. Through formative evaluation the teacher provides feedback to the learner on a continuous basis. In contrast, summative evaluation is conducted periodically to indicate the student’s achievement at the end of the course or at a point within the course. Summative evaluation provides the basis for arriving at grades in the course. Grading, or marking, is defined as the use of symbols, for instance, the letters A through F, for reporting student achievement. Grading is for summative purposes, indicating through the use of symbols how well the student performed in the clinical setting and the course as a whole.
To reflect valid judgments about student achievement, grades need to be based on careful evaluation practices, reliable test results, and multiple evaluation measures. No grade should be determined on one evaluation method or one assignment completed by the students; grades reflect instead a combination of various tests and other evaluation methods. Along a similar line, students may complete assignments that are not included in their grade, particularly if the emphasis is on formative evaluation. Not all of the students’ activities in a