UWI Guild embraces new GPA Scheme
Monday, May 26 2014
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Following several discussions with members of the University of the West Indies’ Administration, Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Alan Cobley, students and other stakeholders, the St Augustine Guild of Students at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine campus has taken a firm position that the new Grade Point Average (GPA) scheme is one that will work in favour of the students.
In a letter to students issued on Saturday, the Guild stated it has found that the scheme only aims to change the way grades are reported and not the quality.
Consequently an “A worthy” essay should remain as such under the new system. Students under the Faculty of Engineering and the Faculty of Medical Sciences as well as graduating students will not be affected and only Lower Seconds and Pass degree classes would see adjustments to the GPA bands while Upper Seconds and First Class remain the same. When the scheme was originally proposed, the Guild had a problem with it because the students just didn’t know how it would work. But after a critical review of the GPA Scheme and a better understanding of how it will work, the Guild will be fully embracing it.
The letter also noted that the university has provided staff with training seminars to assist their transition from marking under the current scheme to marking under the new scheme. Also, the university has also promised to take steps to remedy anomalies that occur in examinations and grading.
It added that the university has put in place monitoring systems such as the Academic Board and other important bodies but student monitoring is also key if they are to ensure that they are not disadvantaged by the new system. The Guild advised students: “The Guild of Students encourages the student body to embrace the new GPA scheme which would be implemented from August 1, 2014, and also fulfill your duty to yourself by seeking the correct information and assistance where necessary.”
UWI announced two weeks ago that starting September 2014 undergraduate students from all three campuses of UWI will be assessed by a new GPA scheme. These changes would take effect in the academic year 2014/2015.
There are three significant changes that will be put in place for the 2014/2015 academic year. The letter grade bands will be adjusted along with the quality points associated with them. Quality points are used to calculate GPA and, ultimately, the class of the degree awarded.
For instance, a passing grade in the current scheme is represented as a ‘D’, with a quality point of 1.00. In the revised scheme, a passing grade will be represented by a ‘C’, with a quality point of 2.00.
The “grade descriptors” will be introduced to explain the level of skills and knowledge represented by each letter grade. This method of assessment will guide percentage scores in an approach that is more transparent and objective, while giving a clearer picture of the level of competencies achieved by each student.
The adjustment of percentage bands associated with letter grades will be altered. This means that the former passing mark of 40 percent will be reset at 50 percent. The upper and lower bands of each grade will also move so that, for example, the band from A- to A+ will have a percentage range from 75 percent to 100 percent.
The new scheme includes three failing bands, two of which have assigned Quality Points: F1 (45-49 percent), QP of 1.70; F2 (40-44 percent), QP of 1.30; F3 (0-39 percent), QP of 0.00. Quality Points were assigned to the top two marginal fail bands to ensure that UWI rules on student progression can be applied equitably under the revised scheme. The change in percentage band will also alter how the GPA bands are used to determine the class of degree earned, with the exception of the Bachelor of Medical Sciences.