GPA doesn’t measure up

June 11, 2015

Discussions on grade point average degree classifications disregard the presence of a rather large elephant in the room (“When your degree is just a number”, News, 4 June). The empirical evidence that exists on the conflation of module grades into a single “measure” of student performance reveals what a deeply unsound process it is, especially given the wide disparities in mode and variance between disciplines within the same university and between universities.

In common with many academics who are researching assessment, I suggest that a fairer and more fit for purpose approach is the development of graduate profile portfolios (going beyond the rather limited Higher Education Achievement Report). Pioneering universities in other countries have – in addition to the grades and percentages that so obsess registrars – evinced in their graduates the soft skills such as teamwork and initiative that are characteristic of well-rounded graduates, and are exactly the qualities that employers call for.

Peter Williams
Faculty of Education
University of Hull

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