Grading Queen’s system

Queen’s changes from a percenatage based grading sytem to 4.3 GPA

All faculties at Queen’s will be changing to a 4.3 scale grade point average (GPA) system starting May 1, 2011. The new system will replace the current percentage grades displayed on student transcripts with letter grades and a numerical GPA system.

ASUS Academic Commissioner Duncan Peterson said grades will remain in percentage form for any courses completed before May 2011, but instead of a cumulative percentage average, students will have a cumulative GPA.

Currently the Faculty of Arts and Science’s website provides student with a GPA calculator that allows them to view how grades will be weighted like in the upcoming system. According to the grade conversion chart, changes will be minor and the biggest one is in regards to what constitutes a B.

Currently the Queen’s grading system accepts percentage grades of 65 per cent to 79 per cent as a B. Under the new system, a letter grade of B constitutes of at least a 70 per cent grade.

But, Peterson said there might be some broader implications.

“It changes in the paradigm of how we think about grades,” he said, adding that some students in the arts and humanities have expressed concerns that their grades will be less precise with a letter grade instead of a percentage.

This could be problematic because students whose letter grades are within the same GPA bracket may have percentage grades that are several points apart.

Peterson said the Faculty of Arts and Science is planning to use the help of their Departmental Student Council representatives as well as their monthly list serve to provide students with information regarding grading changes.

Peterson said the GPA system was presented to the faculty at a faculty board meeting.

“It’s going to take a while for teachers to shift from grading in percentages to a letter grade system,” he said, adding that Profs have to get used to giving grades within large variances

Acting Associate Dean (Studies) Hugh Horton said the Senate is trying to help ease the transition.

“How this change affects instructors, that’s something the faculty is still working with the centre of teaching and learning … we will be working to sort out what protocols need to be used for the new system,” he said, adding that since the new system won’t be implemented until the summer term of 2011, it’s still premature for professors to be trained in the new grading system.

“I don’t think this will affect students and student outcomes. Our goal in all this is to keep student outcomes reasonably the same in the future as it has been in the past,” he said.

The process for the conversion to a GPA system first began on May 2009, when Senate approved the implementation of the new grading scheme.

The Office of the University Registrar completed an extensive review of various grading scales in Summer of 2009, before five grading scale options were selected as the best-suited for Queen’s. From the five options, this person or committee chose the 4.3 scale GPA system instead of the more commonly used 4.0 system. The university choose the 4.3 scale because an analysis conducted by faculties showed that it was better suited for students at Queen’s.

In conducting the analysis for the new grading system, Horton said the Faculty of Arts and Science used 18,000 student records and translated the percentage grade to a GPA grade. This data was used to determine the ideal grading system best suited for Queen’s based on accuracy. While the university will display letter grades on official student transcripts, it has not yet been decided if professors are to provide students with either letter grades or percentage grades within their individual courses.

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