Over the past few years I have attended the University of Tampa, nothing has upset me more than the grading system. Frankly, our grading system benefits students who get lower grades. For example, by clumping A- and B+ grades into an AB, students who would normally receive a B+ are rewarded for receiving lower grades over the course of the semester. In turn, these students receive a higher GPA for doing lower quality work while students who have done better are being penalized.
Even though professors are allowed to adjust the grading scale to their liking, I have not seen this is many of my classes in the past, and regardless of whether or not it is adjusted, GPAs are still affected negatively. If the UT grading scale were to implement plus and minus grades as opposed to whole letter grades, students who earned more points would benefit by being able to receive more accurate grades that showcase how well they performed.
In a 2012 study, the University of Cincinatti College of Pharmacy assessed the benefits of their transition to a plus/minus grading scale from a whole letter grading scale. “The transition from whole-letter grading to plus/minus grading in courses from 2005 to 2010 reflects pharmacy faculty members’ perception that plus/minus grading allows for better differentiation between students’ performances,” as reported by the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. While it is obviously important for students receiving graduate degrees to be accurately ranked amongst their colleagues, I don’t see why undergraduate students should be penalized by the grading system here at UT.
Students are not the only people on this campus who would benefit from a plus/minus grading scale. Professors would also benefit by recognizing who in their classes would benefit the most from extra help. Since small class sizes help communication with our professors here at UT, they would probably be more likely to reach out to students who are struggling by offering extra attention, extra credit assignments, or whatever means are necessary to help their students succeed. Afterall, if students are performing poorly, it reflects their teaching abilities, not just students’ intelligence.
Receiving more accurate grades may also benefit students who intend to apply to graduate school. GPAs do not matter as much for students who are able to seek jobs directly after graduating with a bachelor’s degree. Personally, I plan to attend graduate school, and the higher GPA I can receive, the better my application will look to the schools of my choice. How is it fair to me, as well as many other hard-working UT students, if people are receiving the same GPA as me when I am receiving more points than them in the class. If it came down to me and another student from this school with the same GPA as me but put less effort into their classes, I would be very upset if that student was admitted to a graduate program instead of me.
I think whoever is in charge of choosing the grading system should reevaluate which type would benefit students and professors the most. If UT is a school that prides itself on quality education, accurate grades should be a part of the quality education students receive.
Liz Rockett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org