Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
The ECE 313 Grading Scheme
Grade Distribution Formula:
Scores on homework and examinations will
be weighted as shown below in determining your grade.
To avoid fractions, the Final Exam is worth a maximum of 225 points,
the Hour Exams are worth a maximum of 100 points each, and your
average homework score is normalized to a maximum of 75 points. In
computing your average homework score, I will not include the lowest
of all your homework scores (which may well be a 0 for homework turned
in late or not turned in at all).
- 15% Homework
- 20% Each Hour Examination
- 45% Final Examination
Letter Grades: After computing each student's Grand Total score
(maximum of 500 points) as the sum of the average homework score,
hour exam scores, and final exam score, I find the mean m and the
standard deviation s of the Grand Total scores. Letter grades are
assigned with ROUGHLY the following cut-offs, PROVIDED that m-s is
at least 250.
This often leads to approximately half the class getting A's and B's
which seems to be common practice in upper-division ECE courses. On
the other hand, more D's and F's are usually recorded in ECE 313 than
in most other 300-level ECE courses.
- A's to scores greater than m+1.25s
- B's to scores in the range m+0.25s to m+1.25s,
- C's to scores in the range m-s to m+0.25s
- D's to scores in the range m-1.75s to m-s
- F's to scores below m-1.75s
Trivia regarding grading practice
- + and - grades are SOMETIMES awarded at the edges of these
cut-offs, usually on the basis of performance on some specific
aspect of the course, e.g. an above average score on the Final
Exam and a Grand Total score near an upper cut-off will often
result in a + letter grade.
- The reason for saying ROUGHLY is that I reserve the right to
make minor adjustments (UPwards or DOWNwards) to each cut-off
as necessary to avoid discriminating between students on the
basis of very small differences in scores. For example, if
student scores in increasing order are as follows:
..., m+0.244s, m+0.246s, m+0.248s, m+0.248s, m+0.251s, m+0.66s, ...
then the student scoring m+0.251s gets a C (or C+) and not a B
(or B-) even though the score is greater than m+0.25s.
- Regardless of your exam performance and the settings of the
cut-offs, you will receive the same grade as everyone who has
the same Grand Total score as you, and nobody who has a lower
Grand Total score will receive a higher grade than you.
- The above grading scheme applies only if m-s is at least 250
points. I have a great deal of difficulty in giving passing
grades to those who score less than 50% of the total points on
the course, and more so when most of the poor scoring comes
about as the result of writing probabilities that are less than
0 or greater than 1. Anyone who does not understand or
remember even the FIRST axiom of probability does NOT deserve
to pass the course, and I am prepared to defend this opinion to
Head, Dean, or Provost. In a spectacular case about 11 years
ago, 51 D's and F's (called E's in those days) were given in a
class of 177 students. However, I hope that performances will
not be as bad as that this semester.