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Research article2009Peer reviewedOpen access

Grading systems, features of assessment and students' approaches to learning

Lars Owe, Dahlgren; Fejes, Andreas; Abrandt-Dahlgren, Madeleine; Trowald, Nils


The Bologna process aims at harmonising the higher education systems in the Europe. One of the most important tools proposed for such a purpose is the European Credit Transfer System. A significant element of this system is a common seven-step grading scale. It has previously been shown that assessment characteristics impact on students' approaches to learning. Furthermore, there is also empirical evidence that judgement criteria have an effect on students' learning. The focus of this article is on the relationships between grading systems, assessment characteristics and students' learning. Empirical evidence from a Swedish survey study indicates that multi-step grading scales may have detrimental repercussions on the nature of the assessment tasks and thereby indirectly on the students' approaches to learning. We suggest that the effects of grading systems need to be considered in the current discussion in order to support quality in learning.


ECTS; grading system; assessment; Bologna process

Published in

Teaching in Higher Education
2009, Volume: 14, number: 2, pages: 185-194

    Sustainable Development Goals

    Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

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