Grading Scale Task Force Information Sheet – For OU Chairs and Directors

Distributed October 18, 2006


This fall, under the auspices of the Faculty Senate and the Provost’s office, a new Task Force is considering whether OU should change our grading scale.  Our current system – the regular A, B, C, D, F system – is now used at a minority of other major universities.  The more popular system is the plus/minus grading scale, which has a number of different slight variants off the typical A, A-, B+, B, B-, … scale.  The OU Grading Scale task force is hoping to provide a recommendation to the Faculty Senate by early 2007.  As part of this effort, we are asking Chairs and Directors to devote a part of a faculty meeting – as soon as possible, and preferably in October or November – to discussion of this issue with your faculty.  This information sheet provides some background information, and some discussion questions.


Background information:


Many universities have recently changed from the regular to the plus/minus system.  Some have considered the change, and decided not to do so.


In the Big 12, eight schools have some form of plus/minus grading implemented (and five only use this method); seven have some form of regular grading implemented (and four of those use only this method).   Most Oklahoma universities (including OSU) use a regular grading system.


OU is changing our records software system over the next few years;  if we’re going to make a change, now would be a good time to do so.


Typically expressed advantages of plus/minus grading:

It gives faculty a more precise tool to measure student performance.

Faculty don’t have to use the pluses and minuses, but have the option.

Puts schools in line with the majority of other major universities.


Typically expressed advantages of regular grading:

Simple and easy to use.  If it’s not broken, why fix it?

Facilitates transfer within Oklahoma, where the regular grading scale is typical.

Students worry that switching to a plus/minus system may reduced their GPA.


Potential Discussion Questions for a Faculty Meeting:

1)  Have any of your faculty used a plus/minus system in the past?  What did they think?

2)  Given the option, would you use or ignore the pluses and minuses if they were available?

3)  What advantages do you see to staying with the regular system?  What disadvantages?

4)  What advantages do you see to switching systems?  What disadvantages?

5)   Sub-issues with the plus/minus system include whether to use an A+ and how to count it in the computation, whether to use +/- below the C, etc.  Also, how to scale the plus/minus system is an issue – 4.0, 3.7, 3.4, 3.0, … and 4.0, 3.67, 3.33, 3.0 … are options.  Opinions on these sub-issues?


Please write a short summary of your discussion on the attached sheet, and send it by campus mail or e-mail to Joe Rodgers, Grading Task Force Chair, OU Psychology Department,   If faculty or chairs/directors have questions/comments, contact Joe Rodgers.  Thanks!

Information for the Grading Scale Task Force, Fall 2006

From OU Chairs and Directors



Department or Program   ________________    Discussion Date __________


Chair or Director (name and e-mail)  __________________________________


By “regular system,” we mean the typical A, B, C, D, F grading scale.

By “plus/minus system,” we mean some form of the regular scale with the

          addition of grade categories in between those letter grades, designated by

pluses and/or minuses.


Check one:

            The majority of our faculty prefer the regular grading system         ___________


            The majority of our faculty would prefer to switch to +/- grading    ___________


Please scale the strength of this preference by circling the number corresponding to your perception of your faculty’s opinion:


Regular grading                                                                                 Plus/minus grading

Strongly prefer           Prefer              Neutral           Prefer              Strongly prefer


            1                           2                       3                     4                           5


Perceived advantages of the regular grading system


1.  _________________________________________________________________


2.  _________________________________________________________________


Perceived advantages of the plus/minus grading system:


1.  _________________________________________________________________


2.  _________________________________________________________________


If you have other comments, please include those in an e-mail or write them on the back.

Please return to Joe Rodgers,, Department of Psychology


Thank you!!!!

Members of the Grading Scale Task Force


Kyle Abbott, Graduate Student Senate, 360-5486,

Matt Burris, interim Chair of Academic Affairs, Undergraduate student appointed by UOSA,

Lou Ederington, Finance, 5-5591,

Cheryl Jorgenson, Institutional Research and Reporting, 5-4962,

Pat Lynch, Admissions, 5-2252,

Mike McInerney, Botany & Microbiology, 5-6050,

Joe Rodgers, Psychology, 5-4591, (Task Force Chair)

Rick Skeel, Academic Records, 5-2012,