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ERIC Number: EJ1146678
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jul
Pages: 19
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1931-4744
The Impact of Grading on the Curve: A Simulation Analysis
Kulick, George; Wright, Ronald
International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, v2 n2 Article 5 Jul 2008
Grading on the curve is a common practice in higher education. While there are many critics of the practice it still finds wide spread acceptance particularly in science classes. Advocates believe that in large classes student ability is likely to be normally distributed. If test scores are also normally distributed instructors and students tend to believe that the test reasonably measures learning and that the grades are assigned fairly. Beyond an intuitive reaction, is there evidence that normally distributed test scores appropriately distinguish among student performance? Can we be sure that there is a significant correlation between test scores and student knowledge? Testing these assumptions would be difficult using actual subjects. In this paper we use mathematical models and Monte Carlo simulation to test the assumption that normally distributed grades assign the highest grades to the students who were best prepared for an exam.
Centers for Teaching & Technology at Georgia Southern University. IJ-SoTL, Georgia Southern University, Henderson Library 1301, Statesboro, GA 30460. e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A