The hazards of grading across national boundaries

One of the challenges faced by institutions offering global educational services using globally distributed faculty is arriving at globally acceptable grading standards. There are 7-point grading scales, 4-point grading scales, alpha-grading systems and plain old percentages. Each schema is a different ‘language’ in that if one has grown accustomed to one system, it is not always a straightforward process ‘translating’ your grades (and associated standards) into another system.

Take “70%” for example. What information does this convey? In the United States, a student would most likely be disappointed with such a low mark. In India, on the other hand, a student would be delighted to have performed so well. Herein lies the problem. If you have an Indian professor with a class largely comprising North Americans (or vice versa!) then, left to their own devices, it is a recipe for disaster.

One way around this is to grade to a standard set of assessment criteria and work from a standard set of grade descriptions. While not a perfect solution, it does make life a little easier come grade moderation time.