Careers & Education

UWI introduces revised GPA scheme for 2014/15

Sunday, May 18, 2014    

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UNDERGRADUATE students enrolled at the University of the West Indies will be assessed using a new Grade Point Average (GPA) scheme come September 2014.

All new and continuing students across all the university's campuses will be assessed and graded in a manner "which is more transparent and in line with international GPA standards," the UWI explains.

Approved by the Board for Undergraduate Studies from 2011, three significant changes will be implemented. "Firstly, the 'letter grade bands' will be adjusted as well as the quality points associated with them. Quality points are used to calculate the GPA and, ultimately, the class of degree awarded. For instance, a passing grade in the current scheme is represented as a 'D', with a quality point of 1.00. In the revised scheme a passing grade will be represented as 'C', with a quality point of 2.00.

"Secondly, 'grade descriptors' will be introduced to explain the level of skills and knowledge represented by each letter grade. This method of assessment will guide percentage scores in an approach that is more transparent and objective, while giving a clearer picture of the level of competencies achieved by each student.

Lastly, there will be an adjustment in the percentage bands associated with letter grades to bring the UWI in line with international best practice. This will mean that the former passing mark of 40 per cent will move to 50 per cent. The upper and lower bands of each grade will also be shifted, so that, for example, the band from A- to A+ will now have a percentage range from 75 to 100 per cent."

"The new scheme will change the way in which the performance of students is represented on their transcripts; however, it will not change the standard of the UWI degree," Professor Alan Cobley, pro-vice chancellor and chair of the Board for Undergraduate Studies, is quoted as saying.

Consequent on these changes, there will also be changes to the GPA bands used to determine the class of degree earned: 3.60 and above will be equivalent to first class honours; 3.00 - 3.59 equivalent to upper second class honours; 2.50 - 2.99 equivalent to lower second class honours; and 2.00 - 2.49 equivalent to a pass degree.

The singular exception will be continuing engineering students at all levels, who will graduate according to the scheme applied at the time they entered the university. This exception is being made because engineering is the only faculty in which level one grades count toward the final class of degree.

The university advises that, accompanying the built-in academic paybacks, the new grade bands and descriptors are more easily understood by employers and others outside the university's community. The adjustments will also easier facilitate holders of a UWI degree in seeking employment and accessing postgraduate studies overseas.

The university has already conducted workshops for members of the teaching staff to familiarise them with the changes and provide training in the associated methods of assessment. Student forums will also be held to facilitate questions.

The university assured the student population that "a great deal of planning and consideration have been made to ensure that no student is disadvantaged as a result of the transition to the new scheme".

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