Rethinking How We Assess GME Students

MBA Roundtable Winners Amanda Convery, Mandi Bullough and Mark Serva

The MBA Roundtable, an association of graduate business schools, selected a project led by University of Delaware Professors Mark Serva, Amanda Convery and Amanda Bullough at the Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics as one of two 2021 Innovator Award winners. The other project selected was from the Carey Business School at John Hopkins University.

Serva, Convery and Bullough, with support from Senior Associate Dean of Academic Programs Jack Baroudi, redesigned how the Lerner College assesses graduate management students (GME) by creating an innovative motivational tiered assessment (MTA). Under MTA, students can achieve higher grades only when they exhibit higher levels of intrinsic motivation, because students choose the amount (and difficulty) of work they complete. This new assessment model is changing assumptions about grading in the Lerner MBA program, MTA’s relative advantages, data that support these advantages and how MTA will be integrated into Lerner GME programs in the future.

“The challenge that we address is improving the meaning of graduate management education (GME) grades, and—by extension—differentiating different levels of GME student performance,” said Mark Serva, associate professor of management information systems (MIS) at UD. “My colleagues and I started by questioning the assumptions surrounding grading. After some background research and significant development work and refinement, the result was motivational tiered assessment (MTA), an approach that changes not only how we grade, but also tightly ties grades to the student’s level of intrinsic motivation to learn.”

The MBA Roundtable Innovator Award was created in 2011 to promote educational initiatives that advance innovation in graduate management education and acknowledge the institutions that drive change in the field. The Innovator Award raises awareness of ongoing curricular and co-curricular improvements and educates employers, business school leaders, and faculty about innovative practices of best-in-class MBA and Specialized Masters programs.

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