ERIC Number: ED446143
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2000-Oct
A Study of the Effect of the Implementation of the Plus/Minus Grading System on Graduate Student Grades.
Malone, Bobby G.; Nelson, Jacquelyn S.; Nelson, C. Van
The implementation of a plus/minus system of grading to replace the traditional A through F grading system for graduate students was studied at a midsize Midwestern university. Decimal equivalents were established to enable the computation of grade point averages (GPAs) that reflected the dispersion of grades through the plus/minus system. A survey was administered to graduate faculty to assess their perceptions of the effect of the plus/minus system on graduate grades, and the analysis was based on 250 responses. Then an analysis of the graduate GPA in the first three graduate courses for 4,944 master's level students who were enrolled under the A-F system was compared to that for 3,144 students enrolled after the implementation of the plus/minus system. Students perceptions before the implementation of the system held a measure of truth in that GPAs did decline, especially in some academic areas. The most conspicuous decline was in the number of "A" grades awarded. Faculty perceptions of the effects of the plus/minus system varied by academic area, with sharp differences among faculty in different disciplines. Faculty members did not tend to think that the plus/minus grading system helped the weaker students, but they did think that the stronger students got higher grades as a result of the new system. Implementing the new system was expensive in terms of dollars and work hours. Overall, data point to clear differences in grading philosophies among the academic disciplines. An appendix contains three tables of average cumulative graduate GPAs. (Contains 8 tables, 4 figures, and 27 references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Educational Research Association (Chicago, IL, October 25-28, 2000).