Institutions of higher education commonly employ a conjunctive standard setting strategy, which requires students to resit failed examinations until they pass all tests. An alternative strategy allows students to compensate a failing grade with other test results. This paper uses regression discontinuity design to compare the effect of first-year resits and compensations on second-year study results. We select students with a similar level of knowledge in a first-year introductory course and estimate the treatment effect of a resit on the result for a second-year intermediate course in the same subject. We find that the treatment effect is positive, but insignificantly different from zero. Additional results show that students’ overall second-year performance is insignificantly related to the number of compensated failing grades in their first year. The number of attempts that students need to complete their first year does not have a significant positive effect on second-year performance. We conclude that the evidence for a positive effect of resits on learning is weak at best.

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ERIM Top-Core Articles
Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
Erasmus School of Economics

Arnold, I. (2016). Resitting or compensating a failed examination: does it affect subsequent results?. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 1–15. doi:10.1080/02602938.2016.1233520