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Hello! Does anyone know how GPA grading works on Canvas?

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I saw that grades can be displayed as GPA scale. What GPA scale does Canvas use? How can we calibrate that scale? How does Canvas computed based on GPA?

Any help in this would be greatly appreciated!

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Community Team
Community Team

spuen@ateneo.edu Welcome to the Canvas Community!

The default GPA grading scheme is provided in the GPA Scale section of What are grading schemes?  I recommend you check with your local Canvas admin or eLearning department to see if they have customized the default to conform with the grading scheme used by your school.

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Community Team
Community Team

spuen@ateneo.edu Welcome to the Canvas Community!

The default GPA grading scheme is provided in the GPA Scale section of What are grading schemes?  I recommend you check with your local Canvas admin or eLearning department to see if they have customized the default to conform with the grading scheme used by your school.

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Hi stefaniesanders!

Thank you so much for the welcome and the link, it was helpful! My school is letting us put in the grading scheme.

I am wondering though if it could be letter grades and the 0-4 scale, rather than the 0 -4 scale and the 0-100 scale, if that makes sense?

Would I be able to make this scheme, for example, on Canvas?

A      3.7      4
B+    3.5     3.7
B        3        3.5
C+    2.5       3
C         2        2.5
D        1          2
F        0          1

Or am I always going to have to use the 0-100 point scale?

Thank you again for your time!
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spuen@ateneo.edu 

Grading schemes are always out of 100%. You could set up a scale on a 4 point assignment and enter an "A" and Canvas would make it 4 points, but you wouldn't want Canvas to enter a 4 for an "A" if it was a 50 point assignment.

You could multiply all of your numbers by 25 so they are scaled to 100% and then create the scheme. Here is a post I made last year about GPA scales and how you might use them.

Displaying a grade as a GPA is pretty much the same as displaying a letter grade. In fact, at one time there was talk of doing away with it completely, but they decided to keep it. 

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Hi james@richland.edu!

Thank you for the link, I am definitely learning a lot!

So to give a little more context--faculty at my institution (we just got canvas so are still exploring) are used to grading in this way: assessment are out of 4 points, and a 4 is qualitatively excellent (A), 3.5 is a B+, 3 is a B, and so on. All assessments are therefore out of 4, and at the end, faculty compute for the final grade using weighted average. 

Thus I am trying to figure out if that is possible on Canvas, or if not, what alternatives there are. Your link is one that is helpful, and so I am wondering, given the above context, if you had thoughts about whether this is doable, pros and cons, or if we should shift instead to the 0-100 points system for grading and then just make the equivalent grading scheme (as the links suggest, putting in a 90/100 will make a 3.7/4, for example). 

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Let me start with Canvas has no native sense of a letter grading scheme or GPA scale. Everything is converted to percentages and scaled. A GPA scale or a letter grade scale are only defined if you set up the grading scheme that goes along with it. From that perspective, Canvas has no notion that a 3.7 is an B+. What it does is take the 3.7 and divide it by the number of possible points to get 92.5%. Any GPA or letter grade is shows is then based on where 92.5% falls in the grading scheme.

Now let me try to convince you that you do not want to use GPA scales. I'm going to use the example from the Canvas documentation of a GPA scale.

When you enter a letter grade in for the grade, Canvas assigns the highest possible point value. If, on a 4 point assignment, you enter "A", then it puts 4 (not 3.9 or 3.8). If you put in B+, then it enters 3.7 (not 3.6 or 3.5). But this is still a letter grade grading scheme, not a GPA grading scheme (at least as Canvas defines it). The GPA grading scheme (as shown in their example) is a letter grade scheme but instead of using letters, it uses numbers. It allows you to enter 3.7 and have it scaled to the points for the assignment.

Here's the confusing part, though. If you're using a letter grade type for an assignment but give it a GPA scale for the scheme, you can still enter numbers, the same as if it was a GPA scale grading type. In other words, there is no real distinction between letter grade and GPA grading types.

Entering 4, 3.7, or 3.3 is fine and dandy when every assignment is worth 4 points and you never deviate from. But let's say that you're using legacy quizzes where the points are determined by the questions within the quiz and not by a setting at the assignment level. If you have a "50 point" quiz, you would need to make each question worth 0.08 points to come up with a 4 point assignment. However, if you ever slip up, or ever need to enter something other than 4, 3.7, 3.3, etc., then you're being risky. If you have a 10 point assignment and enter 3.7, then it gets scaled to 3.7/4*10=9.25 points. But if you enter 3.8 (an A, but not a full A), Canvas doesn't recognize that as a valid GPA score and so it enters the grade 3.8. That's 3.8 out of 10, which is 38%, which comes through as a 0 for the grade.

If you enter 85% on an assignment, then Canvas determines that as 85% of the possible points. 85% corresponds to 3 out of 4 on their scale and so the gradebook shows a 3. Internally, it's stored as whatever 85% of the possible points are. On my 10 point assignment, that would be 8.5. On a 4 point assignment, that would be 0.85*4=3.4. For all calculations related to grades, Canvas will be using 3.4, but showing the student 3. This means that the student will be unable to verify the math -- because it will look wrong.

Don't use GPA scales. Just don't. There was a reason Canvas wanted to get rid of them.

Using a Letter Grade scheme (with letters) is different because there's not a double role for the numbers.

Now, back to the issue of whether you should make everything worth 4 points and use a weighted gradebook. This can be done with a letter grade scheme, but I wouldn't.

The issue with legacy quizzes is one issue. If you're using New Quizzes, then that becomes a non-issue (mostly).

The weighted average is the tricky part. You can use weighted assignment groups, but there is no individual weighting allowed within the assignment group other than by using the points for the assignments.  That is, if all of the assignments are worth the same, then you can say exams are worth 50% of the grade, but you cannot say exam 1 is 10%, exam 2 is 10%, exam 3 is 10%, and exam 4 is 20% without creating two assignment groups -- one worth 30% and one worth 20%.

Exams are an easy example. If you have an "Assignments" group but some assignments are weighted more than others, then you cannot do that easily with all of them being the same point values. If you want to use "drop rules" then it has no sense of the weighting, so it may end up dropping the wrong grade and hurt the student.

If you want to use a letter grading grading type for every grade but let the points vary per assignment or assign something other than a designated letter grade (enter a 3.8 instead of a 4 for an A), then that's still potentially problematic.

When students look at a grade, see "I got an A" and think they got 100%. There was a long-standing feature request to use the median grade rather than the maximum grade, so entering "A" would give you 3.85/4 instead of 4/4. That makes it difficult to ever get an A, though. This is partially solved by the use of Rubrics to enter grades.

Confusing to students is the conversion between letter grades and grades in Canvas. If an A is anything greater than 92.5%, then a 95% on a legacy quiz is going to show as an A. If they got 93%, 93%, 93%, and 89% on four equal-point assignments using your scale, they would see A, A, A, and B+, but their overall grade would be a B+. That's hard to explain to students.

I don't use a 4.0 scale for everything, so it's hard for me to imagine the benefit of it. If you want to grading on a 4.0 scale and show to the students as 3.7 or 3.9, then just make the assignments worth 4 points and display it as points. That doesn't fix the issue with legacy quizzes or weighting of grades within the same assignment group, but it does fix the issue of entering a grade like 3.8 or 3.9 (technically, if all assignments are worth 4 points, you could still enter 3.8, but it would display to the student as 4 if you were using a GPA scale).

If it sounds like no scheme is perfect, there are those who would like to do away with grades all together. Sometimes I wish my students were there just to learn and not so focused on the grade, but that's not the way they're raised.

All I have is knowledge, the ultimate call is up to you. It is definitely easier to work with the software, but there's an uneasy feeling about letting the software define how we work.

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Thank you so much for this detailed and informative answer, it was very helpful!

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