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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Student perceptions of report cards : how gender and age interact with curiosity Marlyn, Sean Charles


This study examined how feelings about report cards, motivation (interest in doing well in school) and depth curiosity (interest in learning beyond what is required to achieve a grade) were affected by achievement and the importance placed on report cards by students. Ninety-seven students (Grade 4 & Grade 7) in a multicultural elementary school in western Canada were surveyed to determine their attitudes towards report cards. Data were examined using descriptive and inferential statistics in SPSS. Assertions were developed using the qualitative data. High-achieving female students reported being less curious and high-achieving male students more curious than their lower-achieving peers of the same gender. These effects cancelled each other out in the whole population, and were possibly caused by gender-based differences in anxiety about reports, but more likely due to different approaches to learning. A similar, but weaker, gender-based relationship between importance indicators and curiosity indicators was found. Motivation (wanting to make an effort after seeing report card grades) was uncorrelated with importance and achievement for all groups. Possible causes included differences in expectations, home attitudes, and the circumstances of ESL (English as second language) learners. The open-ended questions were used to develop three assertions about students’ reactions to report cards. Grade 7 students were much more aware of the social context of reports than Grade 4 students. Grade 7 boys were much more likely to report severe parental reactions and to evaluate themselves negatively than Grade 7 girls. Finally, feelings were largely independent of the actual grades obtained. Suggested directions for future research include a longitudinal study, taking grade-expectations into account. Repeating the current study at schools with different demographics is also suggested. An ethnographic study looking at different social cohorts could also be informative. A large-scale study to confirm the methods used to measure curiosity is also recommended. Recommendations for teachers, parents, and policy makers were developed. These focus on mitigating the harmful effects of letter grades, and approaching change in a thoughtful way. Suggestions for improving dialogue between parents and teachers on the topics of curiosity, gender, and letter grades were also developed.

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