Stars, crowns and insufficient with a sticker


Grades. TU/e seems to be going along with a national trend to make grading systems as complicated as possible. The primary school my son attends is currently not capable of providing report cards for their students. Instead, they score students using stars and crowns for specific topics, but the level of the topic does not necessarily match the level of the grade they are in. Three stars in 7th grade can mean a good score on 6th grade exercises.

At TU/e, the complexity of grading is partly in the rules of the Bachelor College. Intermediate tests have to be graded with one digit precision on a scale from 0 to 10. Final tests too. The course result is a weighted average of intermediate and final tests rounded to the nearest whole number, unless the final test score is less than 5, then the course result is ‘NVD’ (niet voldaan/not sufficient).

These rules seem to make sense, despite the fact that the constant rounding may lead to strange effects in the final grade. The problem, however, is that these rules are not supported by our computer systems.


Where a primary school simply provides parents with a login code to see the results of their children, TU/e has Canvas and Osiris which disagree on even the most basic concepts. A student ID in Canvas for example is a number (which cannot have a leading ‘0’), where in Osiris, it’s a text field (with leading ‘0’’s). Student names are also different in both systems and when they contain special characters it all becomes messy quickly.

What is even more important is the fact that Canvas does not understand our complicated rounding rules, nor codes like ‘NV’ (niet verschenen / no show) or ‘NVD’. Using Canvas to administer grades is therefore ill advised, which is unfortunate as it provides nice means for digital testing.

Potential for errors

Ever since TU/e bought Canvas and Osiris, lecturers have been asking for a simply way to get grades from Canvas into Osiris. Ever since, the promise is that this will soon be available. The two project groups that are currently still working on this issue reported a 14 step method of exporting and importing grades. Talk about potential for errors.

Fortunately, there are also nice moments when grading tests. Last week, I gave one student a sticker. She did not try to answer any of the exam questions, but she stayed for 40 minutes to draw nice pen drawings of, amongst others, a picture of Gandalf. I graded her exam with a ‘0 with a sticker’. Unfortunately, both Canvas and Osiris cannot handle this grade and the final result remains ‘NVD’.


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