Grading methods

I use several different types of grading in my courses. This post explains what they are and how they work.

A+ through F (Grade Point)

This is the traditional grading system used at North American Universities. I use this system primarily for grading summative exercises (i.e. exercises that are designed to assess retrospectively how well you have learned something) and for the submission of final grades to the registrar.

When I submit grades to the University, I use the following table of equivalences:

University description Excellent Good Satisfactory Poor Minimal pass Failing
Letter A+ A A- B+ B B- C+ C C- D+ D F
Percent range 100-94 93-90 89-86 85-82 81-78 77-74 73-70 69-66 65-62 61-58 57-50 49-0
Conventional value 100 92 88 84 80 76 72 68 64 60 56 49-0
Grade point 4.0 3.7 3.3 3.0 2.7 2.3 2.0 1.7 1.3 1.0 0

In order to calculate your grades, I convert all scores you have received in the year to percentages. How I do this depends on the nature of the work.

  • Tests of specific skills or knowledge (such as identification questions in literature classes, or fact-oriented tests in my grammar and language classes) are usually graded using a numeric score which is easily converted to a percentage.
  • Essays, presentations, and other qualitative forms of assessment are usually graded either by letter, Pass/Fail, or Appropriate/Inappropriate/Fail.
    • Assignments that are graded by letter: I convert letter grades to percentages by taking the median value in each grade-range, and rounding up to the nearest whole percent. The only exceptions are A+ (which is converted to 100%), and F (which is converted to an arbitrary percentage between 0% and 49% based on my estimation of the work’s quality). In the above table, these median values can be found in the conventional value row.
    • Pass/Fail: A pass is equivalent to 100%; a fail equivalent to 0.
    • Appropriate/Inappropriate/Fail: See below.

Pass/Fail

I grade some formative and participation exercises “Pass/Fail.” A pass means that you received 100% on the exercise; a fail means that you received 0. Work graded pass/fail cannot be made up.

Appropriate/Inappropriate/Fail

I grade some formative exercises “Appropriate/Inappropriate/Fail.” This method is derived from Specifications-Based Grading approaches.

  • Appropriate. A grade of “appropriate” means that the work achieves the recommended learning goals and receives a grade of 100%. Appropriate work that is of exceptional high quality may be awarded an additional “Distinction” or “Great Distinction” Badge.
  • Inappropriate. Work that is “inappropriate” represents a good-faith effort that does not achieve the learning goals for the exercise. Such work receives a conditional grade of 0. Students may normally resubmit one “inappropriate” exercise for regrading per class, with a cover letter explaining the steps they have taken to address the original work’s problems. If the revisions are successful, the exericise receives a grade of 100%, although additional penalties may apply.
  • Fail. Work that fails receives a grade of 0 and may not be resubmitted. This grade is reserved for work that has not been submitted or does not represent a good-faith attempts at achieving the goals of the exercise.

Badges

Badges are used in my classes to reward exceptional formative work. In most classes, two levels of badges are available:

  • Distinction. The work exceeds the requirements of the exercise and shows greater than normal merit.
  • Great Distinction. The work greatly exceeds the requirements of the exercise and is of exceptional merit.

Badges may or may not have an impact on grades. The course syllabus will tell you what badges are available.

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