The ECE 413 Grading Scheme

Grade Distribution Formula: Scores on homework and examinations will be weighted as shown below in determining your grade.

  • 15% Homework

  • 20% Each Hour Examination

  • 45% Final Examination

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. Your Grand Total score thus has a maximum of 500 points.

In computing your average homework score, I will not include the lowest of your homework scores (which may well be a 0 for homework turned in late or not turned in at all).

Letter Grades: After computing each student's Grand Total score 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 using cut-offs that are based roughly on a mixture of
  • objective criteria (85% = A, 70% = B, 55% = C, etc.),

  • statistical criteria (above-average scores = B or better, etc.),

  • soul-searching.

Thus, provided that m-s is at least 250 and that the ranges stated below make sense when the scores are all recorded, I intend to award
  • A's to scores greater than min(m+s,425)

  • B's to scores in the range min(m,350) to min(m+s,425),

  • C's to scores in the range min(m-s,275) to min(m,350)

  • D's to scores in the range max(m-2s,225) to min(m-s,275)

  • F's to scores below max(m-2s,225)

The percentages of A's and B's awarded in ECE 413 are comparable to those awarded in other 300-level required courses in the ECE Department. On the other hand, more D's and F's are usually recorded in ECE 413 than in most other 400-level required courses.

Trivia regarding grading practices

  • The reason for saying roughly is that I reserve the right to make minor adjustments (upwards or downwards) to each cut-off to avoid discriminating between students on the basis of very small differences in scores.

  • + and - letter 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, while lacklustre performance on the Final Exam and a Grand Total score near a lower cut-off might receive a - letter grade.

  • Regardless of your exam performance and the settings of the cut-offs, however, 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.

  • ECE 413 is intended to be a course for undergraduate students. In recent semesters, graduate students have begun registering in ECE 413. To prevent superior graduate student performance from skewing "the curve", all the above averages, standard deviations, etc. are computed from the undergraduate student scores only. In other words, all cut-offs etc. are determined from the performance of undergraduate students only, and undergraduates compete only against their peers, not against graduate students. Graduate student grades are determined by where their scores fall in comparison to cut-offs based on the undergraduate scores.

  • 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. If the number of such students is large, well ... that's when the soul-searching begins.