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Learner II

GPA as a Grading Scheme

A professor wants to know if they can set up a Settings/Grading scheme that uses a GPA scale like this,

A = 4
A- = 3.75
B+ = 3.25
B = 3
B- = 2.75
C+ = 2.25
C = 2
C- = 1.75
D+ = 1.25
D 1
D- = 0.75
F = 0

What are the caveats for going this way? Also, the course also uses weighted groups like,

Writing = 70%

Participation = 15%

Critiques = 15%

Total = 100%

Their solution was to multiply the GPA scorings by 4 ....

QUESTION: Can (1) someone please help me formulate a strategy for doing this better by sticking with this method above (2) or reasons why I should suggest a better way?

2 Replies
Learner II

I only know of one way to set up a grade scheme in Canvas, and it refers to the percentage grade a student has. You could change it so that instead of saying "A = 100% to 91%" it says "4 = 100% to 91%." This article shows how to setup a scheme: How do I use grading schemes in a course? Also, I don't think that you have to worry about the way they weight their grades. It seems unrelated based on the information in your question.

I would be wary of this because my school already uses a 4.0 GPA system for overall grades, and uses an institutional grade scheme to determine a student's GPA. Introducing your own GPA and scheme on top of that can get confusing, especially if yours is similar to your institutions. For example, let's say an institution puts the cut off for A at 92%. If an instructor decides to put the cut off for A at 94% in their class, that means a student getting a 93% would feel like a 1% drop to their score, as the instructor would report an A- to the SAP.


The weighting of the assignment groups is mostly irrelevant. As Nicolas mentioned, Canvas scales are based off of percentages. Canvas has an example GPA scale shown in their guide: What are grading schemes? It only has integer values for the percents, but you can enter decimals.

To me, it would depend upon what the instructor intends to do with it. That's not as straightforward as it sounds.

If the instructor wants to enter "A-" for a grade and have it show up as a 3.75 on a single assignment, then using rubrics may be a better way to accomplish this. Entering a letter grade can be problematic as Canvas puts in the highest grade for the scheme.

I use a non-standard scale for rubrics. This contains the values that I want to enter for a specific assignment to get around Canvas entering an 89% if I put in a "B" for a grade (we use a 90,80,70,60 scale).

  • Awesome 105%
  • Good 90%
  • Okay 75%
  • Fair 60%
  • Poor 45%
  • None 0%

Since rubrics don't work on percents, I have to apply that scale to whatever the point value for the assignment is. Here's what it looks like for an assignment worth 10 points.


The rubrics are used for entering grades and getting the value that I want to get.

I also have a grading scheme that I use for display purposes. This is attached to the assignments that use that scheme.


Letter grades and grading schemes can also be used for entering grades. 

If I used the "GPA scale" as the "display grades as" under the assignment settings, then I could enter "Good" as a grade and Canvas would show "Good", but would treat it as 96.5% of the possible points. That's because the lowest "Awesome" that's possible is 97.5% and it backs up 1% to get the highest grade for "Good." Yeah, it's bad math, but it's human-friendly for those who don't use decimals.

All of that was at the assignment level and the assignment group weights don't come in at all.

I then have a course grading scheme that matches what the school's A, B, C, D, F. The final grade doesn't do a + or -, but I want that as an advisory note for the students. This if for their overall grades and it's what the rubric would look like if you do not want Canvas to automatically round to the nearest percent. If you want it to round, you would need to drop each entered value by 0.5%.


I imagine, based on other people who have wanted this, that they don't fully comprehend all of the technical needs that go into it, they just want to use a GPA. I would counsel anyone at our school away from doing it this way, but your circumstances are probably different.

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