Grading

Please read the following statement very carefully. It’s essential to your role as a member of the Experimental College faculty.

As instructors in the Experimental College, you need to understand how important it is to our integrity and continued well being that the grades achieved in each course are distributed over a discernible range.

To be transparent, gone are the days of the “Bell curve” where “C” was the median and all grades fell in around it. The new Bell curve tends to peak at “B+” and the range tends to cluster from “B-” to “A”. Smaller, but still a range.

Complicating matters a bit further, students enrolled in ExCollege courses tend to be highly motivated. In addition, since our classes are kept small (twenty and under), faculty often get to know their students as individuals. Taken together, these factors may make it harder to achieve our goal of grade distribution.

Therefore, in order to help you meet the grade-distribution goal, we strongly suggest that:

— you have at least three evaluative assignments 
one of these should happen in the first few weeks of the semester
— you tell the class what you expect from them with each assignment
— you establish a policy for missed or late assignments

Please note: because a tight and/or complex numerical system can lack flexibility, the university does not use an equivalency table whereby a certain set of numbers equals a certain letter grade.  Here is the official grading guideline, as published every year in the Tufts Bulletin.

A  Superior work
B  Meritorious work
C  Work without marked merit or defect
D  Unsatisfactory work
F  Failure

The addition of a plus (+) or minus (-) to the letter grade can further distinguish among students’ work.

Finally, we need to add a word about the grade of “A+”. Giving an “A+” is a purely symbolic act with no practical effect since an “A+” counts the same as an “A” toward a student’s GPA. Keeping this in mind, “A+” should be reserved for those students whose work strikes you as not simply the best in the class but at a level beyond what one would expect from an undergraduate. As a frame of reference, most faculty at Tufts give an “A+” once every few years. Some have never given one.

 

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