eClass Support
Grading Students Using Only Letters
Last modified on 05 July 2023 07:15 PM

There are a number of ways to use only letter grades in eClass courses. This article will recommend best practices and provide examples for some specific use cases. Because letter grading is a complicated area, users can also contact eClass support at 780-492-9372 for assistance getting this set up correctly.

Recommended Practice

In general, students should always be assessed in eClass using numerical (point) grades for the sub-component grade items in a course. At the end of a course, the numerical course total will then be calculated by the eClass gradebook and will be converted into a letter grade for submission to Beartracks and/or for display to students.

If numerical scoring is not possible due to departmental requirements about grading students using only letters (or personal preference), instructors should determine what numeric scores correspond to each letter score at the beginning of their course. Grade values and practices differ between faculties and departments - one example method has the numeric score for each letter is the midpoint of the range for that letter, e.g., the range for a B+ is between 85% and 90% so a student receives 87.5 for a B+ on a particular assignment. Another example method uses the 4-point GPA scale and gives students the corresponding floor value of each step out of four. The options available for instructors are (with details below):

  1. Set the ranges up to match their letter scoring system and give numeric scores in eClass.
  2. After completing step 1, display all the numeric scores entered in the system as letters to students.
  3. Replace (hide) the eClass gradebook-computed course total column with a manual item and specify the letters as computed by a departmentally provided scoring spreadsheet.
  4. Optionally score all items submitted to eClass using only a letter scale (and perform any required computations of course totals outside eClass.)

Letter Grade Ranges

Each course contains a set of default letter grades. To access this, click on the Grades tab on top of your course page. Select Grade Letters located under the section More of the drop down menu. These Grade Letters are used to convert numeric scores to letter scores.

Please note that the default letter boundaries in eClass have been provided by the registrar but may not reflect any specific policies of faculties, departments, or programs. It is incumbent on instructors to review these boundaries before assigning letter grades to ensure they meet requirements and convert scores to their desired letter grades.

The letter ranges can be verified and adjusted if necessary using the instructions in this article: Setting Letter Grade Boundaries.

Displaying Only Letter Grades to Students

Once the boundaries have been verified, you may configure the gradebook so that all numeric scores are converted upon display so that students only ever see letter grades; Instructors will still see numeric scores when editing the gradebook. To display letter grades to students:

  • Click on Grades tab from the top panel of your course page.
  • Select Course grade settings from under the Setup section of the drop down menu.
  • Under the 'Grade Item Settings' section, set the Grade display type drop down to 'Letter'.

You may also configure the grade display to show only the course total or else to show specific grade items. See the article Formatting Student Grade Display for full details.

Direct entry of letter grades

eClass also provides the option of scoring particular assessment items using letter grades. Note that instructors should never use this method if they plan to use eClass to compute course final grades. This functionality could be used to display individual assessment item scores to students (while performing final grade calculations outside eClass;) or alternatively to use eClass to securely display to students their unofficial final letter scores which have been calculated outside the system.

If students’ final totals and final letter grades will be determined outside of eClass but you still want to score their individual assessment items on a letter scale inside eClass, start by hiding the automatically calculated course total from students:

  • Click Gradebook setup under the gear icon at the top right of a course.

  • Click Edit > Hide in the bottom row of the table beside Course total.

Providing Letter Scores for Individual Assessment Items

To provide letter grade scores for particular grade items or activities in a course, use the 'Improved Letter Scale':

  • Go to the activity and access the settings from the top tab
  • Scroll down to the Grade section and select Scale from the Type dropdown list
  • Select the Improved Letter Grade Scale from the dropdown list. You should be able to do this at any point until this activity has been graded; after which this option will not be available.

    Please note that you can only make these changes directly from the gradebook (as shown below) if the grade item has been manually added to your gradebook.
    See this article Adding Grade Items for more information on manually adding Grade items. For all other activities, this setting has to be accessed directly from the activity's settings as shown above.

  • Go to the Grades tab and select Gradebook setup from the dropdown
  • Find the manually added activity that is denoted with a paper and pencil icon.
  • Click on the Edit dropdown on the right and then Edit settings

  • Change the Grade type to ‘Scale’.
  • In the Scale dropdown, select ‘Improved Letter Scale’.
  • Save changes.

  • Now when assigning grades for this item, instructors can select a letter grade from a dropdown:

For full details on using this scale, please see Using the Improved Letter Scale.

To upload students' unofficial letter grades to eClass, instructors can add a manual grade item called 'Final Letter grades' and follow the same process to convert the grade type to the 'Improved Letter scale'.

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