Purdue Today

May 19, 2008

Banner gives faculty +/- grading option

Plus/minus grading, approved by the University Senate in 1997,  will finally become a reality at Purdue beginning this fall after the new Banner student systems go online in July.

This has been something that much of the faculty has wanted for several years, according to Registrar Bob Kubat. But it would have required too many changes to the Purdue's "legacy" computing systems for it to be practical.

"The amount of time, money and energy that would have had to be invested in this was simply deemed to be too great," Kubat said. "But Banner can implement it with no trouble at all.

"This is not an enhancement to Banner, but part of its standard grading functionality."

James McGlothlin, associate professor of health sciences and director of the occupational and environmental health sciences graduate program, said, "Plus/minus grading will give the faculty more opportunities to grade on a continuum. Some faculty will want to stick with whole grades, while others may prefer the plus/minus option.

"The most important thing the faculty should remember for this fall semester (and beyond) is to make sure they describe their grading schemes very clearly in each class syllabus. The students need know how they are being evaluated and how their grades were derived."

Kubat said that grades will remain on a 4.0 scale.

"An A+ and an A will still be a 4.0, while an A- will be weighted as 3.7 when calculating total index points for each class," he said. "Index points will be computed by Banner, so faculty will only need to select a grade from a drop-down menu when entering them online."

The new grading policy, which will include a chart showing the weight of each possible grade, will be included in the upcoming version of the University Regulations.

Graduate faculty will have the same option and ability to issue plus/minus grades as those teaching undergraduate courses.

Both Kubat and McGlothlin agree that some "consistency" issues still need to be resolved.

Kubat said, "Will each faculty member use plus/minus grading, or will departments, schools and colleges make their own individual policies? This is something the Senate and deans will need to decide."

Kubat emphasized that the faculty won't be required to give plus and minus grades.

"This will just be another option for them," he said.