I took a graduate course (C.S) in a U.S university. We were not provided with any grading scale in the syllabus. I was assigned a letter grade but I have no idea how it was calculated. Below is an example of a grading scale from another course
If X is your overall course score, letter grades will be assigned
using the below scale. Scores will not be rounded.
100 ≥ X ≥ 93 A 93 > X ≥ 90 A- 90 > X ≥ 87 B+ 87 > X ≥ 83 B
83 > X ≥ 80 B- 80 > X ≥ 77 C+ 77 > X ≥ 73 C 73 > X ≥ 70 C-
70 > X ≥ 67 D+ 67 > X ≥ 63 D 63 > X ≥ 60 D- 60 > X ≥ 0 E
Can I ask the professor how my letter grade was calculated? if so, would something along the lines of "Could you please provide us with the grading scale used for the course or post it on Canvas?" be acceptable and non-offensive?
You can certainly ask the professor to justify how a grade was calculated and assigned. In most universities and most systems the professor is obliged by the rules to justify to students how a grade was obtained. Moreover, minimal decent teaching practice is that the manner in which grades are to be calculated and the conditions in which the evaluation is to occur are fixed in advance and known before evaluations occur and that the calculations are reproducible by the student evaluated (there are of course particular contexts, e.g. evaluating a student with discapacities or an exam that contains an error in a problem formulation or an interruption (e.g. power outage) in its administration, in which particular modifications might have to be made).
Assigning grades according to some scheme known only to the professor is considered something bordering malpractice in many countries. In Spain, where I work, a student always has a formal right to see how exams etc. were graded and to formally protest any perceived error in their grading.
In my opinion: If you have received your grade you can ask the Professor to provide some explanation. At least for us in Europe it is ok to ask. It just depends on the way you ask. Depending on the person he/she will always be offend when you ask. However, just asking for the individual points/grades and how your overall grade was calculated shouldn't be offensive.
Why I think so: it should be in your own academic interest to know where you did something wrong and how you could improve.
Yes, of course you can ask. Do it pleasantly but I would even expect a response.
In addition to understanding the mechanics of the calculation (or if it was qualitative what went into it still), you should ask for advice on areas that were weak and how they can be improved and also advice on further studies depending on the class. You may get some very practical advice like "this is one topic you need to know for sure in next course" or "don't worry about it too much, since you are going into life sciences" or whatever. IOW, have a discussion about your academic process, not JUST the grade. But still...get an understanding of the grade!