Benchmarking of Virginia Tech GPAs to Curtin University course-weighted averages
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Having a single numerical value to represent a student’s overall level of achievement is useful. At Curtin University of Technology, it is the Course Weighted Average (CWA) – an average of percentage grades received for each course. At Virginia Tech, it is the Grade Point Average (GPA) – an average of values based upon letter grades for courses (letters initially based upon percentage grades). To facilitate exchanges and/or transfers between U.S., Australian and other institutions, it is useful to benchmark the equivalency of GPAs to CWAs. The difficulty comes through the differences in which grade corresponds to which mark. At Virginia Tech, a mark of 71% earns a C-, which is a GPA of 1.7; below the 2.0 required for graduation. By contrast, at Curtin a CWA of 71% results in a degree with honors. This paper reports on a study of cohorts of freshman engineering students at each institution ranked by GPA and CWA, and comparisons drawn at equivalent percentile ranks within each cohort. This yielded an equation to convert GPA to CWA allowing comparable student achievement at the two universities to be evaluated and contributing greatly to facilitating exchanges and/or transfers between U.S. and Australian universities.
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