Graduate Research Papers


Open Access Graduate Research Paper


Grading and marking (Students); Self-confidence; Physical sciences--Study and teaching (Secondary);


High school teachers begin each year with a plethora of content standards to teach, however, instructing students how to learn is hardly ever considered. Metacognition and learning how to learn are not present in high school science content standards. The ability to self-regulate our knowledge is essential to assumptions about learning (Cubukcu, 2009). Students are expected to use metacognitive strategies, even if they do not have them. When students work through problems, it is common to expect them to go back and recheck their work. This is a form of metacognition and self-regulation. Asking students apply metacognition can help them learn both content knowledge and gain metacognitive skills (Schwartz et al., 2009). From professional experience, students work systemically through practice problems and assessments by treating each problem the same. High achieving students are expected to show confident judgment in their knowledge, yet explicit feedback on quality of the knowledge is often not given by teachers. How to improve judgment in knowledge is taught even less often. Students are unable to express what knowledge they already possess. They also struggle to articulate to what degree they believe this knowledge to be accurate (Gahan & GardnerMedwin, 2003; Gardner-Medwin, 1995).

Measuring a student’s confidence in their knowledge can be a difficult challenge for educators. Confidence-based marking (CBM) is one approach to improve formative self-assessment and to help train students to become more objective of their answers when undergoing formative and summative evaluation. CBM is a grading scheme, commonly used for multiple choice and true or false questions, which requires the students to assess the selected answer and place a descriptor on it indicating how confident they are the answer is correct.

With a tool of this caliber at the aid of educators, a puzzle remains. Why is a well-researched, sensible, and practical strategy for objectively marked tests not employed by more teachers (Davies, 2002; Gardner-Medwin, 2006; Hassmén & Hunt, 1994)? The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of CBM in a high school physical science course. Research appears in medical colleges and similar post-secondary settings, primarily in preparation for the medical field, however, there is no clear published literature about implementation in the high school setting. There also exists ample research to show the effectiveness of the tool, but a lack of research to show if the age of the student influences its effectiveness. This study sought to determine if CBM can be effective at the secondary level in a science classroom.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Science Education Program

First Advisor

Kyle Gray

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vi, 70 pages)



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