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.

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Posted in Practical advice
One comment on “The hazards of grading across national boundaries
  1. Frank Lorne says:

    Agree…the assessment criteria may need to be developed specific to a problem with a finite life span. This is very common among broad-based examination schemes held annually across different schools and perhaps across different country boundaries.
    I’ve sit on examination board of this nature in which preparation for a set of questions and the marking scheme took a full year of preparation. A new set of questions is made up every year, and the preparation meetings being an annual exercise.
    For less skilled-oriented courses more structured for self learning, this type of rigid preparation for assessment is arguably not as desirable, but some type of structured assessment criteria is definitely useful.

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