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evaluation, grades, Heideggerian hermeneutics, phenomenology, nursing students



  1. Poorman, Susan G. PhD, RN, CNS-BC, ANEF
  2. Mastorovich, Melissa L. DNP, RN, BC


Background: Although the literature is replete with information about grades, there is a lack of empirical evidence about the meaning of grades to nursing students.


Purpose: This study sought to understand the meaning of grades for nursing students at all educational levels.


Method: Using Heideggerian hermeneutic phenomenology, 46 nursing students from 14 schools were asked to tell about a time that stood out to them when they were graded. They then reflected on their story and described what this experience meant to them.


Results: Data analysis revealed several themes. The main theme was "needing an A." It was discussed by students at every level of nursing education.


Conclusions: Students not only needed to get an A, but also they needed to get an A in every course they took, causing stress and disappointment when they were unable to achieve these grades. It seemed that what they were learning was not as important as the grade they received.