More on the 4 vs. 6 Point Grade Scale

A few days ago I wrote about shifting from a 4 point, GPA-based, grading scale to a 6 point scale, still based on the GPA scale but with some weight added to the bottom end, to make non-submissions weigh more heavily. In the graph below I compare the grade distribution on the 4 point scale vs. what it would have been on a 6 point scale. The blue columns are the grades on the 4 point scale I used this term, and the red is what the grades would be on a 6 point scale.

As you may notice, there’s a general shifting of the distribution to the left, toward lower grades. The number of Fs may seem excessive, but each of those students had multiple missed assignments/quizzes/tests. Out of 9 of those things, the student who would have Fs under the 6 point scale missed, respectively 6, 5, 5, 5 (with a plagiarized paper), 4, 3, 3, and 2 (with a plagiarized paper). The plagiarized papers received scores of 0, so they are effectively also missed assignments, so each of the students who would have received an F missed at least 1/3 of the assignments/quizzes/tests. And under the 4 point scale none of those students actually receive an F, which surely is wrong.

So with the problems of the 4 point scale, why do colleges use it? Well, the graduation requirements at my college specify that you must have a cumulative GPA, and a GPA in the major of, of 2.0. So effectively the college has bumped the standard up by 2 points also, because the 0 grade points of an F don’t weigh heavily enough in the calculation.

So all in all, I feel as though I’m on the right track. We’ll see.

About J@m3z Aitch

J@m3z Aitch is a two-bit college professor who'd rather be canoeing.
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1 Response to More on the 4 vs. 6 Point Grade Scale

  1. Plagiarized papers should result in failure for the course, not just for the assignment—otherwise the expected value of plagiarizing is higher than of not turning in the paper. Either that or make a plagiarized paper be a score of –4 or worse, so that the expected value of plagiarizing drops below zero (assuming you have about a 40% chance of catching and enforcing a plagiarized paper).

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