Moodle gradebook with categories
Implementing a Moodle Gradebook with categories as defined in a course syllabus.

In a previous post, I wrote about the creation of an easy Moodle Gradebook.  In this post, I continue with a discussion about a step up in your gradebook.  What if you need a Moodle Gradebook with categories?

A Moodle Gradebook with Categories

Let’s propose a syllabus that contains the following categories and points for course assessments:


  • Project One (100 points)
  • Project Two (100 points)
  • Project Three (100 points)

  • Homework One (20 points)
  • Homework Two (12 points)
  • Homework Three (4 points)
  • Homework Four (35 points)
  • Homework Five (25 points)
Final Project (100 points) 25%

This is my MATH 3185 syllabus (or something like it).  I assign homework and projects at varying levels of difficulties and with varying assignments of points.

Note:  The point values for the homework assessments have unequal point values.

Here’s the process that I follow when creating the Moodle gradebook with categories that are defined in my syllabus.

  1. Create all course assessments in Moodle.  Input any due dates, information, and add any attachments.  Of course, ensure that all descriptions are checked for spelling and grammar errors.  For the sample syllabus above, I would create nine assessments.
  2. Assign number of points for each assignment.  This can be done a variety of ways.  Perhaps you build a rubric with points that total to a nice number.  Perhaps you are able to balance marks of learning but don’t always end up with a nice number.  Either way, have an answer for the point value for each assessment.  This means planning ahead.
  3. Navigate to the Gradebook.  Click on “Course Tools” and then “Gradebook”.
  4. Access assessments.  Click on the drop-down menu and then select “Categories and Items”.  You should see a full list of your assignments and your point values.
  5. Change aggregation type of the Gradebook.  There are now three columns (Name, Max Grade, and Actions).  On the first row (the course name), there is a link for “Edit”.  Click on “Edit” and then choose “Edit settings”.  The second item down will be “Aggregation”.  Choose “Natural” from the list of selections in the drop-down menu and then click “Save changes” at the bottom of the page.
    Note:  You should notice a new column, now, entitled “Weights”.
  6. Create grade categories and assign aggregation style.  Choose “Add category”.  Give a category name and aggregation style for that category.  For example:  “Projects” and we’ll choose to aggregate using “Natural”.  Click “Save changes”.  
    Note:  Feel free to explore the other options.
  7. Sort assessments.  You’ll notice a column on the far right, now, entitled “Select”. Select assessments that you would like to move to your category.  Then, in the drop-down menu, choose the category to which you’ll move those assessments.  For example: We will move “Project One” through “Project Three” to the “Projects” category.
  8. Assign weights to eat category.  For each category that you just created, enable a weighting by selecting the check box for that category and specifying the weight.  For example:  For “Projects”, I’ll check the box in the same row and then specify “50”.

Continue steps 7-8 until you have created all of the categories in your syllabus and have sort all of the assessments into those categories.

Note:  I recommend the use of the “Natural” aggregation scheme because all other schemes can be addressed through this aggregation type.  Further, Moodle will deprecate all other grading schemes in the future.  



Once you have sorted each assessment into categories to follow your syllabus (the above syllabus looks like my MATH 3185 course), you may recognize a few interesting things.

  1. Your students will always know their grades.  We fill out athletics progress reports for NCAA reporting purposes.  Computing those, regularly, is time-consuming.  Now, the grades are continually recomputed.
  2. Not all assessments in a section need have the same weight.   Although I may use the same rubric for multiple assignments in a section, it may be that the work required for completion of an assignment is drastically different than from another assignment in the sign course.  This can be adjusted via the weights of the natural aggregation type.
  3. Not all assessments in a section need have the same point value.  It may be that an assessment is easier to score if the point total is out of 37. As a consequence, you’ve made your rubric that works in this setup.  Remember, weights are assignable a 37 point assignment or a 100 point assignment can be granted the same weight.  Ex:  Let’s say that you have the two assessments HW3 and HW4 as in my syllabus, above.    Maybe it is that grading once assignment out of 4 points makes my life considerably easier while HW4 is most easily graded with 35 points.  Perhaps the workload is roughly equivalent.  Left with no strictly adjust weights, Moodle will take a simple weighted mean in that category.  But, by selecting the means, I can set them both at 5% and never worry about correct computation of the course average.

Using the Moodle Gradebook with categories sets your course up to look exactly like your syllabus so your students know exactly what they’re getting into as a student in your course.  In the future, we’ll be training on this topic extensively.

If you have any questions or want to share any insights, please leave them below in the comments section!

Moodle Gradebook with Categories
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