Eastern Oregon University > Academics > Colloquium opens season with introspective look at grading practices

Colloquium opens season with introspective look at grading practices

Colloquium opens season with introspective look at grading practices

Gary Keller
Gary Keller

Oct. 21, 2021 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Colloquium, Eastern Oregon University’s scholarly presentation series, has been hosting unique academic work from numerous disciplines for over 30 years and has its first 2021 presentation on Oct. 28. 

College of Business professor Gary Keller will present his findings from a multi-year study of grading practices in EOU courses he taught. Keller looked specifically at potential bias by gender, modality (face-to-face versus online) and grade level  of courses he taught  from 2018 to 2020. 

“I wanted to find out, does grading bias exist in courses I have taught not only in terms of gender, but in terms of modality, face-to-face versus online, graduate, undergraduate, and so forth,” Keller said.     

The study grew out of Keller’s previous research on determining if relationships existed between student grades and the amount of time students spent on assignments, and in a second study  if correlations existed between the diversity of student grades and the amount of time a professor spent reviewing and grading student assignments.

Keller noted that his grading bias study was unique in its focus on a smaller batch of data and more personal level as compared to similar, larger projects.  

“It’s a personal study. And the reason I use that term, personal study, is because many of the studies that have been done, and this was as a result of the search of scholarly literature, were mega type projects. Those research studies  were very, very big, and some had recommendations that smaller studies  should be done on an individual basis to determine if grading bias exists,” he said.

To avoid bias during the final analysis, Keller collaborated with a colleague from a small liberal arts college in southeast Wisconsin. This colleague had one of his statistics classes analyze and generate the final data analysis.

“The findings were very interesting. I gathered the data but I did not analyze it. I didn’t want to have any role in the data analysis so that someone could claim I was making interpretations that could have skewed the results toward my benefit,” Keller said. 

No grading bias was found in Keller’s courses, barring a small discrepancy between the grades of female undergraduate students in-person versus online due to very small enrollments

However, Keller hopes that the end of his study won’t be the end of his research, and encourages listeners, particularly EOU faculty, to build on his work and conduct similar research under a broader scope. Keller noted that future, consistent efforts by EOU to study and if clear trends exist, stop grading bias. This effort could be beneficial to the university in attracting and retaining students. 

“However, regardless of the reason, determining the causes of grading bias is simply the right thing to do,” he said. “I realize this study alone is not going to initiate a major change unless others start to think ‘let me take what he did, his methodology … and let me try it,’ and that could motivate others to try it as well.” 

Keller’s talk will take place from 4 to 5 p.m., on Oct. 28 over Zoom. This event is free and open to the public. In addition, he has been invited to present his work at an international conference for the Institute for Business and Finance Research in January 2022. 

Written by PR Intern Garrett Christensen.