Discussion: Are you for or against using the plus/minus grading system?

As you all know, the computer system that handles the grades is now capable of handling plus and minus grades. Professors have the option to use this system or not. I think we should have a large scale discussion about this so we know where everybody stands on this issue. --Mboutin 12:50, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

Let's discuss this below "forum style". --

  • I am neutral. I am a Professor and, personally, I don't really have a preference either way. Using the plus and minus system involves a little bit more work on the part of professors, but I don't really mind doing the extra work if this is what the students want. However I took a poll in my ECE301 class last semester and a vast majority of students were against using pluses and minuses. So I have not used that system yet. --Mboutin 12:59, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
  • I vote no +/-. I'm not much of a gambling man. The benefit if I were to get a B+ would be great, but the loss if I were to get an A- would be much more disappointing. --cg49me 13:29, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
    • I also vote no. I agree that using the +/- system is a gamble and, because the grade points of an A+ is the same as an A, it is a gamble in favor of the house. (aka it would be harder to get an 4.0 with the +/- system) --Jwromine 14:45, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
  • I think the +/- system should be modified. For students achieving within the A-range, the current system only offers a penalty (A-). At my alma mater (ASU), we introduced the +/- system, but had an option for an A+, which was worth 4.3 points. Cumulative GPA's were capped at 4.0. This provided a more representative distribution than either Purdue's +/- system or the straight A B C system --Srudolph 13:34, 26 February 2009 (UTC).
    • As stated above, getting an A- instead of an A can be a pain. I also think it's important to stay consistent with other schools, since the numerical GPA can sometimes have a fair amount of weight. --Norlow 14:25, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
    • As stated in both of the above comments... we are all quite aware of the pros and cons and as far as the A and A+ having no numerical difference in the system, that's a problem. What are some ideas however??? It's not really possible to persuade whoever it is that needs to be persuaded, to introduce a 4.3 grade to a 4.0 scale... let's face it... NOT GONNA HAPPEN! They could find a way to separate the values though and I believe that it would fly. I think "That guy" could be convinced of that... I thought about the visual emphasis(physically seeing the "+") being introduced to the transcripts. Maybe someone else knows?, but if an employer asks for your transcripts... do they see your actual letter grades or do they just get GPA numbers? If they do see the actual letter grades than I think it's unfair to have some courses use the +,- system and some courses not use it. That kid that had a ton of courses with it may have and advantage over someone that didn't. I think many agree when I say, "One way or the other". If prospective employers only see numbers, than I don't see a problem. Everyone barely skates by with a certain letter, and everyone gets screwed out of a better one by a percent or two in college. It evens out.--Ehanna 03:02, 16 April 2009 (UTC)
  • I did not use +- last semester because it was the first time. I talked to some students and it appeared to me that they did not have strong opinions either way. Yung-Hsiang Lu (Professor).
  • I vote yes to the +/- system. Students work very hard for their grades and only five categories (A. B, C, D, F) can be used to describe their performance. Therefore, our current student quality representation scheme is too small. An ideal system will be to use percentages instead of grades. However, I think this approach is unnecessary. The bottom line is that I think the new +/- system is an improvement to the current system, because gives additional categories to grade students' performance. --Hsantosv 20:35, 26 February 2009 (UTC)
    • I agree with this statement. BUT... I disagree with the way it was handled. I don't think it was fair to make a change in the middle of my term here at Purdue. What SHOULD have happened, in my own opinion, is that they should have done the same thing they did with the change in requirements in the Science Department. If you had been enrolled in Purdue before a certain year, you have the option of having the old system or the new system. Once you are young enough where you have been housed under the new system, entirely, you don't get the choice. --websterm
      • I agree with this as well It is difficult to make this type of change in the middle of your term here at Purdue. I do believe this can be a great system once all the kinks are straightened out. The issue with the no A+ is a bit of a let down for a student who achieves such a grade. This has potential to be much better than it is now.--Asharpel 01:00, 27 February 2009 (UTC)
  • I think that a plus (+) system should be initiated but not a (+/-) because as a student, I feel I work very hard for my grades. I think that professors should give students (+)'s to show their hard work. I feel that (-)'s shouldn't be used because I feel it can play a negative affect on a student. The student works hard for his or her grade and having a (-) sign attached to the grade portrays a negative value. It is almost as if one is thinking 'that person received not just a B, but a B- !'. This isn't positive and I don't feel it benefits anyone. Thus I feel that the (+/-) system shouldn't be initiated but a (+) system should. -Kristen
  • For +/- : In the Fall I taught ECE 302 to 85 people. In the final grades, there was someone at virtually every point from 35 to 100. How does one draw the line between grades ? I think the +/- system mitigates the unfairness: previously someone with say 2 marks more would have got a full grade point higher.--User:sanghavi
    • I am one of Professor Sanghavi's students from last fall. Although the system has only hurt me (I have only gotten minuses and no pluses), I agree with what he has said, despite the negative impact it has had on my GPA. However, I still think that an A+ should be awarded to the top students, with a value of 4.3 or something like that, with the maximum cumulative GPA possible remaining a 4.0. It is unfair to not give the elite students an option of a plus. However, it would also be unfair to deny a straight A student the privilege of having a perfect GPA. I think my method would solve the problem, thus qualifying as a baller idea.--Vhsieh
    • I would love to get at least a 4.2 for each A+ to offset the A- I got last semester. I also vote for a special ECE student holiday. And free food. No, I'm not asking too much. --weim
  • I'm gonna say that I really don't like the plus/minus system. Because outstanding students who recieve a 97% or higher do not get an extra reward. If you are going to be punished for not getting a middle of the road A,B,C, etc. you should be rewarded for outstanding work. People may claim that it averages out to be a C average anyway because it is possible to get a D- which is below a 1.0 and more than a 0.0, which is true. But how many people who get a D- have to retake the class anyway, so this is not a very valid arguement. ---Aaron 18:07, 4 March 2009 (UTC)
  • I think a lot of times good ideas are not used in a proper way and brings bad results. +/- is such an example. Yes, it is ideal that we have an criteria that can differentiate everybody's work and achievement because everybody's is different. However, in practice it is not possible. This results in a lot of unjustifiable results which brings more unfairness. Last semester I was taking EPICS, I wasn't a leader of the team but I still put in quite some effort(well, as least compared to some people). At the end of semester I got an A-. Later I realized that nobody in my team got a worse grade than A-(including one guy who virtually did NOTHING). See, when results are unjustifiable, A- becomes a tool to make everybody happy. Therefore, I'm against +/-. --jgeng

  • I think I haven't seen one yet. Was this available last semester? Plus/minus is good. It allows differentiation when and if desired. It need not be used. notthe600
  • I did not use +- last semester because it was the first time. I talked to some students and it appeared to me that they did not have strong opinions either way. Yung-Hsiang Lu. (Moved from the category page --Norlow 13:21, 7 April 2009 (UTC))
  • I am for (+) system as contrary to a (+/-) system. As someone mentioned, (+-) system only penalizes students who are on the borderline of a letter grade. I think this is unfair because it is biased towards people who do relatively bad but it does not reward outstanding students. Personally I think that a person who has a course average of about 92 is same as someone who has a 96. The only difference is the way he/she takes an exam. If need comes, it makes sense to reward students within the upper margin of a letter grade to mitigate unfairness. Especially A-'s are the worst. I have had a couple of A-'s the previous semester. The reason: I made a very stupid arithmetic error. So I vote for a (+) system over anything else. If I were to further think about it, I would only have A+'s to ensure that the best candidates are rewarded.
  • Is there actually a statistically significant difference between an A+ and an A performance? -dknott
  • I'm completely for the +/- system..
  • I'm all for +/- grading. I think people against the +/- system are just "scared" (to put it lightly) of getting an A- or B-. The +/- system is fairer because it equates one's grade more accurately based off one's actual performance in class. Without +/-, a person with a 79.5 and 89.4 will get the same grade, a B. And yet the two students did not have the same performance! People like to say that +/- is a "gamble", yet with +/-, the difference between getting a 89.5 and 89.4 will be just 0.4 GPA points - a 3.7 versus a 3.3, whereas without +/-, the difference will be a whole GPA point - a 4.0 versus 3.0. In addition, I think +/- grading makes competition greater and rewards those who "work harder" (without +/-, someone who "works harder" and gets a 89.4 does *not* ultimately get assigned any better grade than one with a 79.5, who perhaps didn't work as hard). Most "top" schools already use the +/- system, and I would argue that dealing with an A- (or B-) is part of going to a (supposedly prestigious) school that has a more rigorous curriculum/grading system. On top of that, I think assigning +/- definitely sets people apart. Suppose one student under old system had a B, B, B, B, A. And a second student, under the old system, had a B, B, B, B, A as well. Yet under the new system, maybe the first student would instead have a B+, B+, B+, B+, A+ and the second student a B-, B-, B-, B-, A-. With +/- grading system, it's easier to see which students excelled (or struggled) in certain classes. -rscheidt
  • The problem with the +/- grading right now is that not all the professors abide by it. I believe it is good to have, but if a professor from one section uses the +/- and a professor from another does not, then it gives the kids from the professor's class who don't use the +/- an unfair advantage over the ones who do have it. I'm sure this is not a very widespread problem, but I do know there are classes where the +/- is still not used, and unless that is a section wide guideline about whether they are used or not, it lets some of the kids not do as well of a job and get the same grades as those who tried their best.
  • I believe the (+/-) system is not a good idea. I used a +/- system all throughout high school. With this system students become pickier about their grades, and tend to fight for the smallest points, because in this system the range for each grade is 1/3 the size, and therefore every point is important. I have also seen a lot of inconsistency between classes, graders, and professors using the +/- system. As stated above, I believe that it is unfair to give the same gpa value for an A+ and an A. However, if an A+ was given the value of a 4.3, wouldn't a perfect gpa then be considered a 4.3? In my opinion, a +/- scale, if implemented, should not include +/- for an A, because a student who earns an A should receive an A, not an A-.

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