Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Do we need a new grading scale?

The faculty senate wants to change the grade scale here at Oshkosh.  They are holding a referendum on the question in a few weeks.

The referendum asks whether we should abandon the current scale and move to a more traditional +/- scale.  Now we have an 8-point scale, if we change, we would have a 12-point scale.

The reasons for this seems to be that the current scale does not give us enough precision in grading and that we are different than most other institutions.

Now that I have written this, I can't figure out why.  Who cares?  Who dislikes the present scale so much that we need to change it?  I can not really be against having the ability to make finer distinctions, but I don't see why this has come up as a topic now.

Does anyone have really strong feelings about this?  Are we or our students suffering because there are only 8 possible grades?


Anonymous said...

This issue has been on the back burner for more than a decade. Some professors would like to draw a disinction between a B+ and an A- (or between a B- and a C+).

It may also bring some consistency. I know some faculty who say they will bump an A- to an A because they feel an A/B does not accurately reflect A- work. others will knock a B+ down to a B for the same reason.

As for me, I would much rather give a student who does C+ work a C+ rather than a B/C

I assume the students have a say in changing the grade structure. If so, this will be a mute point as I don't see them voting for change

Cassandra said...

As a student, I loved the A/B when I knew I did B+ work but hated it when I knew I did A- work.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 11:13 are you really a college professor who thinks it is a "MUTE" point --- I sure hope it is not English you teach.

Anonymous said...

Nope, I am a college professor who did not proofread before posting. Mea culpa.

Anonymous said...

I liked the AB system because the difference between an A- and B+ (and B- and C+, etc.) are so trivial, and yet could really affect your GPA in high school. I found the AB system more fair.

Anonymous said...

"... difference between an A- and B+ are so trivial, and yet could really affect your GPA ..." Huh? Perhaps you mean "the difference in thresholds is trivial." And therein lies the reason students should be behind this idea. I would be far more receptive to an appeal to change a B+ into an A- than I currently am to change an A/B into an A.

And yes, I do feel the granularity of the current grading scale is insufficient. Heck, I feel the best course would be to just go with a numeric 0.00 to 4.00 scale and damn the stupid letters and their inherent quantizations. (And yes, I cam see the witty "maybe we need a third decimal place" comment coming up main street.)

But I really don't see why our mystery host is upset about "why this has come up as a topic now." I didn't realize there were times when we shouldn't be considering how we assess (and report) the "learning" of our students.