INVESTIGATING FACTORS INFLUENCING GRADING DECISIONS AMONG TEACHERS OF CHINESE TO SPEAKERS OF OTHER LANGUAGES
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The current study investigated teachers’ grading practices on achievement and non-achievement factors in the classroom of Teaching Chinese to Speakers of Other Languages (TCSOL). Specifically, this study investigated how teachers assigned grades in relation to students’ achievement and non-achievement factors, and further, whether this relationship between achievement and non-achievement factors and grades was different based on teachers’ past experiences. This study was a quantitative survey study. The participants were 214 TCSOL teacher candidates at Master’s level in two universities in Beijing, China. The study employed a questionnaire made up of two sections. Section One provided 32 grading scenarios that illustrated 32 students with different characteristics (achievement and non-achievement factors). Section Two included four items on teachers’ past experiences. These items were training in classroom assessment and grading, perceptions about grades previously received, teaching experience, and grading experience. Descriptive and multiple linear regression analyses were the two main statistical methods used. Results showed that teachers involved both achievement and non-achievement factors when assigning grades. Generally, sixteen students with low achievement received a mean grade higher than their achievement, and most students with high achievement received a lower grade than their achievement. Further, raw grades assigned by 214 teachers to every student demonstrated large standard deviations, indicating teachers’ decisions on grades were quite different from each other. Paired-sample t-tests found significant differences in grades among four students who presented extreme characteristics. Regression results further showed that while achievement was the main factor teachers considered when assigning grades, all of four non-achievement factors also contributed significantly to grades, with attendance being the most significant contributor, followed by effort, progress and ability. This relationship between the mean grades and all five factors did not change when teachers had different experiences in assessment training, perceptions in the grades they previously received, teaching and grading experiences. This study expands upon the limited research evidence regarding TCSOL teachers’ grading practices. It confirms the hodgepodge nature of grades in this context. It also provides teacher educators with insights and understanding in teachers’ grading practices, and has implications for preparing future teachers to assign grades appropriately.