By Kaitlynn Zygmont
With a new semester comes a new grading system at Laurentian, and, as has been made clear on campus and on social media, there have been many questions and much confusion surrounding the new system.
The grading scheme, which was implemented at Laurentian University in September 2014, is not new to Canadian schools: many universities, such as the University of Ottawa, no longer use a 100 point scale, but now use letter grades.
For calculating averages for academic steps such as graduation, these letter grades are then converted into a point scale.
Registrar and Secretary of Senate, Serge Demers, explained that those applying for scholarships at Laurentian and other grad schools will not be negatively affected because the scholarship structure has been adjusted for next year (95%, 90%, 85%, and 80%) in order to reflect the new GPA calculations which are based on the letter grade and the 10 point GPA.
“During the transition period (where students have letter and number grades) we will be manually verifying borderline cases for graduation purposes that involve the overall GPA (cum. laude, honours, C grade to graduate, etc.),” said Demers. “My office wants to ensure that the conversion from old cumulative GPA to new GPA does not negatively impact students. Students in their first year at Laurentian will not see any difference.”
Given the new grading scheme, professors now have the option to enter grades as a letter or as a number from 0-100. The new system then converts that value into a letter grade, which appears on the official transcript and on Webadvisor.
For returning students in the transition period, the transcript and Webadvisor will show a combination of numbers (before Sept. 2014) and the new letter grades.
First years and future incoming students will only have the letter grades.
With the new system in place, students will see a difference in terms of failed courses because failures did not count in the overall GPA in the previous years, although, students in the A+ range will benefit from the new grading scheme because it will level out the 90-100 range of grades.
This will put those students on a level playing field for bursaries and awards. It will also place students entering graduate studies at an equal level to those from other universities who use the letter grade as well.
For students who are anxious about the new grading scheme Demers explains, “some students have come to see me to say that their 95% will not be different from the 91% someone else had. Apart from the measurement error argument identified earlier, the important part to remember is that the grading scheme is applied at the course level. The GPA is only the average of the 0 to 10 points obtained for each course. In that sense, students should not worry about differentiation at the course level, but rather maintain the high performance for all courses over all the years of study so that their overall GPA is then as high as possible.”