Experimental Analyses of Magnitude and Source of Students’ Inequitable Classroom Perceptions in Three Reward Conditions

John D. Overby, Kay A. Durden


This study indicates that students’ fairness perceptions of a classroom social exchange are affected when the students’ expectations of the classroom social exchange are violated by the instructor’s choice of the grade assignment basis. Results of this study also provide evidence that specific professorial classroom practices are associated with students’ fairness perceptions of the classroom social exchange. The present study indicates the greatest amount of change in the students’ fairness perceptions occurred within those fairness perception concepts which were most closely associated with the manipulations conducted during the study. These fairness concepts were Grade Administration, Grade Level, Grade Rules, and Instructor Fairness. The study’s analyses further indicate that students’ perceptions of an unfair social exchange condition can be overcome by the development of conditions closer to those expected by the students in a classroom social exchange. The research suggests that classroom instructors should be aware of the impact of their behavior in developing perceived instructional atmospheres that can be perceived as unfair and which may result in student behaviors which are nonconstructive with respect to the established pedagogical objectives of the course.

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