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.

  • 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).

You can see how you are doing in the course by checking your scores in the Campus Gradebook for this course.

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 313 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 313 than in most other 300-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.

  • 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.

Improvements in average performance on Hour Exam I

Class averages have improved over the last ten days on account of

  • Increased scores for some students due to regrading

  • Several students with low scores dropping the course

The median score is now 84, the mean score is 78 and the standard deviation is 20.

Clarification on grading policies

One student asked whether I intended to stick by my announced policy of awarding A's to those who scored one standard deviation or more above the mean score. In view of the above data, this would mean that only those scoring 98 or more would be getting an A.

In fact, the grading policy stated elsewhere on this web page says that, subject to some conditions (which happen to be satisfied in this instance,) I intend to award A's to those who score more than the minimum of 85% and mean+one-standard-deviation. I hope that this will set some minds at rest.