In a recent post, I gave some good reasons why teachers should use a learning management system when teaching a course. I didn’t reference the gradebook in that article a single time. Yet, among the LaGrange College faculty, survey results bear out that the topics of greatest interest are quizzes and the gradebook tool in our LMS.
We are currently using Moodle but we are in the transition between vendors for the hosting of our LMS. Rebekah Ralph (@TeachItRalph) and I are working diligently to ensure that our faculty are properly trained for the big transition. I recently gave a talk in a development series that helps explain the setup for a simple Moodle gradebook. For now, I’m going to share some of what I talked about and am going to share what I believe is the simplest Moodle gradebook arrangement possible.
The Simplest Moodle Gradebook Ever
If you’ve never used the gradebook in Moodle before, this is where you should start.
A single credit hour course that I teach could have the assessment and point listings that follow:
|4 weekly writing assignments at 10 pts. apiece||40 points|
|2 bi-weekly homework assessments at 50 pts. apiece||100 points|
|Final Exam||100 points|
In this one month class, I require the following assessments: four small assessments, two larger assessments, and a final exam. The point total is 240 points.
The processes to build the assignments and the gradebook, in this simple case, are one and the same. There are only two steps:
- Create the assignments in Moodle. Turn on Editing for the course and then click on “Create learning activity or resource”. Choose which type of assignment you’d like to create.
- Assign the number of points for each assignment. Do not categorize these assessments. However, you should save any settings for this assessment. You’ll be taken back to the primary view for the course.
Moodle will create a gradebook, with all the students in the course, whose averages will be computed given the assessments that you just created. The default aggregation will be a “simple weighted mean of grades”. Moodle will automatically recompute each student’s average as each assessment score is input.
How is a student’s grade computed?
Let’s motivate using the sample syllabus above. If a student earns a total of 200 out of 240 points from all of the possible assessments, then Moodle will compute a grade of
If students have had the opportunity to complete all assessments except the Final Exam, their earned points will be divided by 140 points, instead. For example. If they earned 120 out of 140 points, their average would be
Rounding is automatically implemented.
This gradebook setup works well by default. Changing the aggregation style to “normal” will manifest itself in the same way. I am recommending that all people change the aggregation types to this new style so that when Moodle deprecates the others, they’ll know exactly how to use it.
Further, one of the options, “Exclude Empty Grades” should be selected so that the average is computed based upon number of possible points to be earned and does not include a zero for the assessment that have not been input yet. Note: If a student doesn’t submit work for an assessment, instructors must include a zero score.
For this simple setup, your syllabus needs to look like a grand total sum of points rather than categories with individually weighted percentages. You need to have pre-decided point values for each assessment.
A clear benefit to using the gradebook is that grades are continually updated as you input student scores. This means that as students come to you seeking their grades you can point them to the LMS. Why does this matter? Because, students have been given the opportunity to take great ownership of their grades. This is what we all hope to have: engaged learners.
If you’d like to leave comments or ask questions, please leave them in the comments section below!