Gradeless Learning in Higher Education: Implications for Student Learning and Well-being

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Grades have been criticized for decreasing intrinsic motivation in education, creating a focus on performance rather than learning and increasing stress and anxiety in students. This critique of grading in assessment has spurred an interest in gradeless alternatives. In this study, we substitute all grades with pass/fail and feedback in the first year of a BSc in Business and Psychology (n=150) to investigate effects on students’ learning approach, well-being and later academic performance. To assess the impact of the gradeless program, we employ a quasi-experimental approach to compare differences between students who receive graded assessment or gradeless assessment (pass/fail). Contrary to previous research, we find no effect on perceived stress-levels, loneliness, or drop-out rates. However, we find that students receiving gradeless learning are less likely to use strategic-surface learning approaches, have higher academic self-efficacy and perform better in some later exams compared to students in the control group.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2022
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventEARLI SIG 1 & 4 Joint Conference 2022 - University of Cádiz, Cadiz, Spain
Duration: 27 Jun 202230 Jun 2022


ConferenceEARLI SIG 1 & 4 Joint Conference 2022
LocationUniversity of Cádiz
Internet address


  • Achievement
  • Assessment methods and tools
  • Higher education
  • Quasi-experimental research

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