“Success was Actually Having Learned:” University Student Perceptions of Ungrading





ungrading, assessment, alternative assessment, survey, higher education


A large body of evidence shows that many ungrading practices are as good or better than conventional approaches at supporting learning outcomes. Much of the research on student perceptions of ungrading, however, is based on individual case studies which, although informative, are often anecdotal, not systematically implemented, and tend to emphasize the instructor’s perspectives. Building on this literature, we offer a systematic study that asks: how do students perceive pedagogical practices designed by instructors to support an ungrading strategy? To answer this question, we conducted a survey of students across a range of disciplines and a variety of ungrading approaches to assess how they perceive their learning experiences in these courses as compared to others. Findings indicate that students generally perceive that ungrading practices improve their relationship with their instructor; enhance their engagement, agency, enjoyment, and interest; foster their intrinsic motivation and focus on learning; and facilitate their creativity. While many students reported reduced stress, others reported that the unfamiliarity and uncertainty of ungrading increased their stress. Gaining a better understanding of how students react to these pedagogical techniques can help instructors improve their practices.


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Author Biographies

Amy A. Hasinoff, University of Colorado Denver

Amy A. Hasinoff is an associate professor of communication at the University of Colorado Denver (USA).

Wendy Bolyard, University of Colorado Denver

Wendy Bolyard is a clinical associate professor in the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver (USA).

Dennis DeBay, University of Colorado Denver

Dennis DeBay is a clinical assistant professor of STEM education at the University of Colorado Denver (USA).

Joanna C. Dunlap, University of Colorado Denver

Joanna C. Dunlap is a professor of learning design and technology at the University of Colorado Denver (USA).

Annika C. Mosier, University of Colorado Denver

Annika C. Mosier is an associate professor of integrative biology at the University of Colorado Denver (USA).

Elizabeth Pugliano, University of Colorado Denver

Elizabeth Pugliano is a senior instructor of art history at the University of Colorado Denver (USA).


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A watercolor image showing a group of 6 students gathered around a table looking at a document.




How to Cite

Hasinoff, Amy A., Wendy Bolyard, Dennis DeBay, Joanna C. Dunlap, Annika C. Mosier, and Elizabeth Pugliano. 2024. “‘Success Was Actually Having Learned:’ University Student Perceptions of Ungrading”. Teaching and Learning Inquiry 12 (January). https://doi.org/10.20343/teachlearninqu.12.5.