Grade Twice: Mid and End

Grading takes places in the middle and at the end of each semester. In both cases, all aspects of each student’s performance are evaluated. In the mid-semester process, each student is given a grade range (say B+ to A+, or C to B) and explicit advice about what they are doing well and what they need to improve. They are invited to talk with their adviser if they disagree with the assessment. In this way, the final grade at the end of the semester is almost never a surprise, essentially eliminating grade appeals while also ensuring the advisers have a very clear idea of each student’s performance and contribution.

For new students on a team, the mid-semester grade is advisory. Most students have never been involved in anything like VIP before, so we allow an adjustment period. A new student who receives a poor grade range, such as D to C+, in the mid-semester grading process can still earn an A or B if they correct the things they are doing wrong. They are typically being too passive, not attending meetings, not interacting with other team members, or not completing the team’s start-up process quickly or well.

The target distribution over all VIP teams should be in the range of 3.2 to 3.5 each semester. This is similar to the distribution senior design courses and graduate courses. The reason is that a student who receives a C, D or F in VIP one semester rarely returns to the team the next semester. Thus, non-performing students tend to leave well-run VIP teams.

The details of the grading process we have developed at GT can be found on the VIP website at

  1. Please go to the “Grading Tools” and “Documents” menu items under the “Current VIP Faculty” tab at the GT VIP website.
  2. Of particular note: The syllabus and the sample design notebook that are posted under “Documents.”