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Poster Number


Grading and Belonging in a STEM Discipline


Presented by:

Amanda J. Chunco, Elon University

Kelsey Bitting, Elon University

Key Statement:

We surveyed multiple sections of a standard introductory level environmental science class to discover 1) faculty belief about grading and 2) student feelings of belonging.


Student belonging is critical for recruitment and retention and grading practices may contribute to feelings of belonging. We used Likert scale surveys to assess faculty beliefs around grading and student feelings of belonging in multiple sections of an introductory environmental science class at a mid-sized liberal arts college. We found a very wide mix of beliefs about grading between professors within a single major. Students similarly had a wide range of feelings about belonging in class, although in ways that were not correlated with professor beliefs. We will refine our study to further investigate the relationship between belonging and grading.


grading practices, student belonging, environmental science

Learning Outcomes:

1.  Reflect on their own attitudes and beliefs about grading (whether conscious or unconscious)  

2.  Consider course surveys to determine how students feel about their identity and belonging in the classroom  

3.  Learn about un-grading pedagogies used in an introductory ENS classroom

We surveyed multiple sections of a standard introductory level environmental science class to discover 1) faculty belief about grading and 2) student feelings of belonging.

Hear it from the author:

Grading and Belonging in a STEM DisciplineAmanda J. Chunco, Elon University
00:00 / 01:01


Increasing recruitment and retention of a diverse group of professional environmental scientists will be important in tackling global environmental crises. However, we have struggled to attract more diverse students at our university. We were interested in whether faculty attitudes about student learning and how grades reflect student learning in the introductory ENS class could be a barrier to students continuing on in our major. We addressed this by surveying all faculty using two sets of validated survey questions – one on grades as gatekeeping and one on whether faculty held beliefs about fixed or growth mindset. We also surveyed students on their feelings of belonging in those classes. We then tested for correlations between faculty and students. Although we hypothesized that faculty with more fixed mindsets and higher gatekeeping scores would be correlated with lower feelings of belonging, we found no support for either hypothesis. This work is still preliminary though, and we welcome feedback, suggestions, and collaborations!


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     A., & Murphy, M. C. (2020). Does my professor think my ability can 

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     T., Bates, R., & Plett, M. (2015). Belonging and academic engagement 

     among undergraduate STEM students: A multi-institutional study. 

     Research in Higher Education, 56(7), 750–776.

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