Issues of Grade Inflation In Nursing Education

Nurses Educator 2

Grade Inflation In Nursing Education

Issues of Grade Inflation In Nursing Education

 What Is Grade Inflation,Implementation of Grade Inflation,Outcomes of Grade Inflation In Nursing Education.

What Is Grade Inflation

    Scholars define grade inflation as an increase in student grades without a concomitant increase in ability (Cacamese, Elnicki, & Speer, 2007; Donaldson & Gray, 2012; Fazio, Papp, Torre, & Defer, 2013, Scanlan & Care, 2004, 2008 ). Although the issue of grade inflation has been a concern in academia for more than four decades, grade inflation is still rampant across disciplines and universities (O'Flynn-McGee & Clauson, 2013; Scanlan & Care, 2004, 2008; Weaver, Humbert, Besinger, Graber, & Brizendine, 2007).

Implementation of Grade Inflation

    The issue of grade inflation is important to nurse educators as gatekeepers to a practice profession (Fazio et al. 2013; O'Flynn-McGee & Clauson, 2013; Roman & Trevino, 2006; Scanlan & Care, 2008; Sowbel, 2011). According to these authors, the purpose of grades is to provide the student with information regarding the ability to master knowledge of nursing, as well as the application of knowledge to practice. If students have over-inflated perceptions of their knowledge and competence as a nurse, the concern for safe practice is real.Furthermore, in a consumer-driven era, students may focus on attaining high grades, rather than learning (Duane & Satre, 2014; O'Flynn McGee & Clauson, 2013; Scanlan & Care, 2004). 

    Nurse educators experience uneasy feelings when a marginal student graduates. The question faced is "What will be the long-term impact on patient care for a student whose practice was, at best, marginal?"In universities, student evaluations of teaching performance and course delivery are integral factors considered in promotion and tenure decisions; there is widespread belief that higher grades lead to better teaching evaluations (Fazio et al., 2013; Germain & Scandura, 2005; O'Flynn McGee & Clauson, 2013; Scanlan & Care, 2004, 2008). 

    Faculty question the validity and reliability of standardized evaluation tools (Donaldson & Gray, 2012: Germain & Scandura, 2005), an issue that is particularly critical when clinical practice is graded. For example, if tools designed to evaluate classroom teaching are mandated for use by students in clinical practice courses, student feedback may not be useful. Nevertheless, fear of poor student evaluations may underlie faculty practices to assign higher clinical grades in the belief that these higher grades will lead to better student evaluations of teaching effectiveness.

    Another factor related to grade inflation is the use of part-time faculty as preceptors for students in clinical practice (Bickes & Schim, 2010; Roman & Trevino, 2006; Scanlan & Care, 2008). These nurses, while skillful practitioners, are not familiar with the nursing curriculum, intended clinical outcomes, nor the theoretical underpinnings of evaluation. 

    In addition, the relationship with the student can interfere with the preceptor's ability to make a reasoned judgment (Bickes & Schim, 2010; Donaldson & Gray, 2012; O'Flynn McGee & Clauson, 2013; Scanlan & Care, 2008; Sowbel , 2011). More importantly, these part-time faculty lack experience and the confidence to make a determination that the student does not have the requisite knowledge and understanding to pass the course (Heaslip & Scammell, 2012)

Outcomes of Grade Inflation In Nursing Education

    In reviewing the literature, there are consistent themes regarding the reasons for grade inflation that include rising consumerism among students, institutional policies such as mandatory teaching evaluations and threat of appeal, use of part-time faculty, lack of faculty understanding regarding evaluation practices, and completion of assigning a grade-to-clinical practice (Bickes & Schim, 2010; Germain & Scandura, 2005; O'Flynn McGee & Clauson, 2013; Scanlan & Care, 2004, 2008 Schneider, 2013; Weaver et al., 2007 ). Although there are some empirical studies (Bickes & Schim, 2010; Donaldson & Gray, 2012; O'Flynn McGee & Clauson, 2013, Scanlan & Care, 2004, 2008), there is no sustained body of empirical evidence that addresses grade inflation in nursing, particularly in clinical practice.

    Grade inflation in clinical practice is particularly important to nurse educators as gatekeepers of the profession. The under- lying factors of use of part-time clinical teachers, lack of understanding of evaluation practices, and university policies contribute to grade inflation and allow marginal students to graduate.There is a reluctance to fail students clinically, especially in the first year of clinical practice because faculty may believe it is important to give students a second chance (Heaslip & Scammell, 2012, Scanlan & Care, 2004, 2008). 

    Clinical evaluations are further compromised when one considers the complexity of professional values and the impact of regulatory requirements inherent in nursing practice (O'Flynn-McGee & Clauson, 2013). Without genuine feedback, students may proceed with the program without addressing underperforming issues.University policies contribute to the potential for grade inflation (Donaldson & Gray, 2012; Fazio et al., 2013; Scanlan & Care, 2004, 2008). Students who perform poorly in a course may voluntarily withdraw late in the term. 

    More trouble is the threat that a student may appeal to a low grade. Students view themselves as consumers and believe that hard work equals a high grade (Germain & Scandura, 2005; Scanlan & Care, 2004). When the grade desired is not forthcoming. students can appeal the grade. Rather than face the prospects of an appeal, faculty find it easier to assign a higher grade in keeping with the grade the student expects (Bickes & Schim, 2010; Fazio et al, 2013; Scanlan & Care, 2004, 2008). 

    An unintended consequence of assigning higher grades when not warranted is that the grade scale becomes compressed and truly good work and effort are not rewarded (O'Flynn-McGee & Clauson, 2013; Scanlan & Care, 2004, 2008). Students quickly learn that minimal effort is all that is required for a "good" grade.There are few solutions to grade inflation that have not been discussed in the discourse concerning grade inflation, including faculty development regarding evaluation practices, use of valid and reliable evaluation tools, and review of university policies (Cacamese et al., 2007; Heaslip & Scammell , 2012; O'Flynn-McGee & Clauson, 2013; Scanlan & Care, 2004, 2008). 

    Clear criteria that address clinical practice outcomes could ameliorate grade inflation in clinical practice courses. In an effort to address grade inflation in clinical grades, nurse educators have moved to a pass/fail in clinical courses. However, as Heaslip and Scammell (2012) contend, even pass/fail clinical evaluations are subjective and not value free. The evaluations depend on an assessment by the evaluator.Conceptually, the definition of grade inflation as described is the accepted definition in the literature across a wide range of university disciplines. 

    However, is there conceptual clarity regarding grade inflation? Are the studies in the current literature studying the same phenomenon? A rigorous concept analysis of grade inflation would add clarity to the literature.Nurse educators teach the nurses of tomorrow. As the entry point to the profession, it is incumbent upon nurse educators to ensure that feedback to students is genuine and reflects nursing practice abilities. Ongoing research addresses the issues necessary to ensure that graduates of nursing programs are clearly able to provide safe and competent nursing care.

Post a Comment


Give your opinion if have any.

Post a Comment (0)

#buttons=(Ok, Go it!) #days=(20)

Our website uses cookies to enhance your experience. Check Now
Ok, Go it!