The gradebook module is a part of every CLE course. It allows instructors to organize and calculate grades, and it allows students to view their own grades. The gradebook offers a number of customization options, and it can accommodate simple or complex grading schemes.
Setup of the gradebook begins with your course syllabus. Refine and clarify your grading scheme first! Next, you will set up categories in the CLE gradebook, add grade items, and then set the “aggregation” methods that will determine student final grades.
Roles control who can setup the gradebook and edit grades. Only managers, instructors, and grading assistants can manage course gradebooks and edit grades. Students can only view their own, personal user report.
Access the gradebook by clicking the Grades button from the left-hand nav in your course.
On the grader report you will see a grid containing a row for each enrolled student, and a column for each grade item, as well as columns displaying category point totals. The tabs across the top of the report represent other functional areas of the gradebook, used for setting up the gradebook, and adjusting gradebook settings.
- View / Grader report – Display of all students and grade items, including calculated totals.
- Categories and items – Manage categories, calculation methods, and add manual grade items here.
- Scales – Setup and manage scales, such as Pass/Fail/Incomplete or 5-star scale (more info on scales can be found here).
- Outcomes – A sub-set of grades, outcomes are used to assess specific levels of knowledge that are linked to specific learning goals established by the instructor, and often displayed as a series of statements. This is an advanced gradebook function.
- Letters – Edit letter grades assignments. For example, set 90% to as an A, and 80% and above as a B.
- Import – Merge the data from an external spreadsheet into the course gradebook.
- Export – Export data from the course gradebook into a format that can be read by external applications, such as Microsoft Excel.
- Settings – Control how the gradebook appears to all participants in the course.
- My preferences – Control how the gradebook appears to you only. Settings here apply to all gradebooks that you have access to in the CLE.
You will spend much of your course setup time creating the activities that students will interact with on the course home page. You may also need to add manual grade items to fill in certain gaps, for those items that don’t have an online component. It is very important to understand the difference between activities and manual grade items, because they are added to the gradebook, and graded, in different ways.
Adding manual grade items
- Open the grader report and click the Setup tab
- Click the Add grade item button.
- Name the item
- Set the total point value for this item in the Maximum grade box
- Click the Save changes button.
Adding activity-based grade items
- Navigate to the course home page
- Click the Turn Editing On button (top right of page)
- Click the Add an activity or resource link from within a topic area
- Choose an activity from the list provided. (Resources are not associated with the gradebook)
- Click the Add button
- You will be taken to the Adding a new…. page, which is different for each type of activity. Provide a name and description for the activity
- Set up the grading values and select the containing category from the gradebook
- Each activity has a unique setup process! Refer to other articles in this knowledge base, or contact us for assistance
- Click the Save and display button
- Repeat this process for each activity-based grade item in the course
After you have populated your course home page with activities and resources, and you have added any necessary manual grade items to the gradebook, you are ready to use the Categories and items page to setup categories and aggregations methods. Categories are folders in the gradebook that help you visually organize your grade items. They can also have a functional purpose, allowing you to group grade items for certain grade calculations.
For example, if you want to weight all of the course’s assignments to be 40% of a student’s grade, and all of the exams to be 60%, you’ll want to group those grades items into two separate categories, respectively, and then apply the weighting.
Aggregation methods are the calculations used to determine student grade totals. Aggregation methods can be set for the entire gradebook, and for each sub-category.
- Mean of grades – The sum of all grades, divided by the total number of grades. Or, in simple terms, the average of all grades
- Weighted mean of grades – Categories and individual grade items can be assigned a weight value, which determines their overall influence on the final grade
- Simple weighted mean of grades – A way to convert a points-based gradebook into a percentage-based gradebook, this method calculates the weight for you as the max grade minus the minimum grade. Or, in simple terms, this method allows you to edit the category totals field (often used to change total from a random sum of points, to an even 100)
- Median of grades – The middle grade when grades are arranged in order of size
- Lowest grade – Only the lowest grade is used
- Highest grade – Only the highest grade is used
- Mode of grades – The grade that occurs the most frequently
- Sum of grades – A simple sum of all grade values
Setting up categories:
- In the gradebook, click the Categories and items tab
- Click the Add category button
- Name the category
- Click the Save changes button
- To position the category, click the move icon (two up/down arrows) from the Actions column
- Then, click the empty box that represents the location that you want to move the selected category to
Moving grade items into the categories:
- In the Select column, check the boxes to select the grade items
- You can also use the All or None links to select or deselect all items in one location
- From the Move selected items to drop-down menu, select a category
Setting aggregation methods:
- Click the Aggregation drop-down menu on the first row of the table, and select a method
- Select an aggregation method for each sub-category, as well
There are additional options available in the Actions column for each category and grade item. This includes the ability to hide, lock and access a settings page for each item. More details are provided on page 7 of the gradebook handout.
There are two pages in the gradebook module that allow you to adjust the gradebook display; Settings, and My preferences. Settings and preferences do not affect how grades are calculated. Just remember to click the Save changes button anytime you make a change to a default setting.
Settings tab notes:
- Changes affect all course participants’ view of the gradebook, including course editors and students
- General and Grade item settings affect the overall gradebook. Overview report settings affect the grader report that course editors see. User report settings affect the report that students see
- Grade display type – Choose the format of the grade totals. For example A/B/C (letter), points, or a percentage
- Overall decimal points – Set how many decimal points display on the grader report. Does not affect calculations, which use up to 5 decimal points
- Hide totals if they contain hidden items – Hides category totals from students, if a grade item within that category is hidden. This prevents students from figuring out what grade they may have received on a hidden item, before course editors release it to the class
My preferences tab notes:
- Changes affect only your view of the gradebook. Also note that preferences apply to all of your course gradebooks across the CLE
- Show show/hide icons – Visible by default, the show/hide icon (look like an eyeball) allow a course editor to show or hide an entire grade item from all students’ user reports
- Show locks – One handy feature of the gradebook is the ability to lock a grade item, preventing it from being updated manually or by the activity it’s contained within. Locks are hidden by default
- Show quick feedback – Adds a feedback box to the grader report, allowing a course editor to quickly add a short comment for the student about a specific grade item
- Students per page – Tired of all the vertical scrolling? Lessen the number of students per page on the grader report. 15 is a good number to try
Some activities, like assignments, allow instructors to provide detailed feedback to students within the activity, as their work is being reviewed and scored. For the activities and grade items that do not have this functionality, feedback can be provided from within the gradebook module.
Feedback that is provided to students from within the gradebook is visible to students on their User report (click on the User Report tab below for more info).
Edit Grade Feedback:
- Within a course click on Grades in the menu on the left side of the screen
- Click the Turn editing on button
- Click the gear icon next to the grade item you wish to comment on
- On the Edit grade page, enter your comments in the Feedback text field
- Click Save changes
If you only need to type a few words of feedback, you can type directly into the grader report. This is called “quick feedback,” but by default the quick feedback boxes are not visible on the grader report. To use this feature:
- Within a course click on Grades in the menu on the left side of the screen
- Click the My Preferences tab
- From the General group, set the Show quick feedback drop-down menu to Yes
- Click the Save changes button
- On the Grader report, click the Turning editing on button
- You will see small, dotted-lined boxes appear in each grade item cell. Type your feedback there
- Click the Update button
Note: Feedback provided from within the gradebook should be kept short and sweet. The students only see this text on their User report, where it is condensed into a small box next to the grade item (see below). More elaborate feedback should be provided to students in other forms, such as email, or in-person.
Navigating the grader report can be challenging. Here a few tips to help you move around more efficiently in the grid:
Side scrolling devices: Often there is need to scroll up and down in the gradebook, and also sideways, to view specific student’s grade items. A mouse with a dual-scrolling wheel, or a laptop with a touch pad can allow you to scroll both ways, without having to click and drag on the scroll bars!
Tool tips: Do you ever scroll back and forth in the grader report so much that you lose your place? To reorient yourself, you can pause and hover your mouse over a cell in the grid. After a short delay, a small tool tip box will appear, telling you exactly which column and row you are in.
Highlighting columns and rows: If you click the empty space within a column header (grade item title) or row header (student name), the entire column or row will become highlighted with color. This is a great way to keep your place, visually, as you scroll around in the grading grid.
Sorting and filtering: Within each column header you will see small, blue, up/down arrow icons. Clicking an arrow will sort the grading report in ascending or descending order by that column. For example, you could sort the lowest course totals scores to the top to see which students are potentially failing the course.
Clicking the First name or Last name text links in the first column, to sort by student’s names.
Clicking a letter from the First name: and Last name: rows above the grading grading will filter out all students except those who’s names start with the letter you clicked. For example, to only see students who’s last names start with M, click the M link under Last Name:. To refresh the view, click the All link.
Users per page: If you have a large class and/or a small computer screen, you may find yourself scrolling up and down the grader report quite a bit. This is a pain! Newer versions of the Moodle gradebook promise a streamlined interface. But for now, there is something you can do – change the number of students per page.
- Open the My preferences tab within the gradebook
- Change the General > Students per page setting to something like 12, or 15
- Click the Save changes button
If the course contains groups, you can filter the grader report by group, to reduce the number of students visible at one time. This is a useful feature in large courses that have multiple instructors, when each instructor is only responsible for grading their sub-group of students.
This group select menu will only appear if groups are already setup in the course. This is a two-step process. First, you must select a Group mode on the course’s main Edit settings page, and then create the actual groups and assign students to those groups (gear icon at top-right -> More -> Course administration -> Users -> Groups).
For more information on groups and groupings, refer to this document.
Once that is complete, you will see a groups drop-down menu appear at the top of the grader report. Select a group from that menu to apply the filter.
One of the most useful and yet unknown areas of the gradebook is the User report. Ever wonder what students see when they look at their grades in the CLE? Well, this is it! You can view a generic User report, or one for a specific student.
Simply select User report from the drop-down menu on the grader report. You will see the generic report. To drill-down into a specific student’s report, select their name from the Select all or one user drop-down menu.
The scrolling mechanics works on the x and y axis. Row and column headers remain visible at all times, and the process of scrolling vertically and horizontally is smooth and seamless.
Single View (pencil icons in grader report)
This is a new feature that allows graders to completely isolate a single column or row in the Grader Report, and allowing the grader to focus on one piece a time. This allows graders to see all students scores for one particular grade item on a single page, or view one student’s scores for all assignments.
Just look for the new pencil icons located in column and row header cells of the Grader Report. Click one and give it a try!
Sum of Grades replaced by Natural Grading
There is a new aggregation method in the gradebook called Natural grading. It incorporates the functionality of a number of other grading methods, and may eventually replace them. As of the July 1, 2017 update, all existing aggregation methods are still available, with the exception of Sum of Grades. The first time a course editor opens a gradebook that had used the Sum of Grades aggregation method, they will see a message indicating that the gradebook is automatically recalculating grades. Don’t worry, though, student scores will remain unchanged!
Here are a few additional notes about this change:
- After the recalculation, you’ll notice a new Weights column in the setup area of the gradebook. The weights will be greyed out by default, and will not affect grade calculations unless you check the adjacent boxes to activate weighting.
- “Drop the lowest” and “Keep the highest” functionality is retained.
- The User Report main contain an additional column labeled “Calculated Weight,” which could confuse students if you aren’t using weights in your gradebook. We recommend reviewing the user report, and then if necessary, hide this column from students in the Setup > Course Grade Settings > User Report options area.
Using Natural Grading:
You are welcome (and encouraged) to use the new Natural aggregation method if you are starting a new course, because it provides functionality for both “sum” and “weighted” grading schemes. This allows academic programs to standardize and simplify grading methods across their curriculum, as well as making it easier for support staff to troubleshoot. Here is the basic idea:
- From the left-hand nav bar click Grades
- Click the Gradebook setup tab
- Below the tabs click the top-most Edit -> Edit settings
- From the Aggregation drop-down menu, choose Natural
- Optional: Click the “Show more…” link to access additional settings, including the option to “Exclude empty grades” (basically, this setting tells the gradebook to ignore empty cells in the gradebook, instead of counting them as zeros and lowering student overall course totals).
- Click the Save Changes button
- At this point, your gradebook is just adding everything up. If you want to change the weight of certain grade items, click the corresponding box in the Weights column, and provide a weight value
- If necessary, you may also click the “Add category” button to create new sub-sections for your gradebook, which can utilize other grading methods and rules
- We do not recommend changing an active gradebook to the Natural aggregation method from Weighted Mean of grades. Doing so will reset all weight values, and there is no undo button. Furthermore, the Weighted method allows you to edit the category total field, but the Natural method does not. This means, if you were using Weighted Mean of Grades and had also edited category totals, changing to Natural grading will cause student grades to calculate incorrectly!
- If your gradebook fits any of these criteria, we recommend that you review grades for accuracyafter the update:
- the gradebook is very complex
- the gradebook uses a combination of grading methods that included Sum of Grades and Weighted Mean of Grades methods
- the gradebook uses extra credit
And finally, if you have any questions, please contact us for assistance BEFORE making changes to your gradebook!
There is a new report in the gradebook that allows graders to quickly see details about particular student grades, including who the grader was, when they updated the grade, and if the grades are locked or overridden. If there are any issues with a student’s grades, and especially if there are multiple graders working on the course, this report can help to clear up confusion.
- Click Gradebook Setup from the gear icon at the top-right
- Click the View tab
- Click the Grade history tab
- If necessary, you can adjust the filters, then click the Submit button to run the report. You can filter by student, grader, grade item, date graded, and whether or not the grade was changed after it was initially awarded
- Optional: To download the report and open it with Excel, select Microsoft Excel (.xlsx) from the drop-down menu provided, then click Download
Import via Paste from Spreadsheet
If your courses uses a complex grading scheme, or if it incorporates offline elements, you may need to manage grades in Excel, and then import scores into the CLE gradebook later, for student viewing. In the past, this process was rather complex and unforgiving, and involved the conversion of Excel files into .csv files. You still need to adhere to the same rules for syncing grades between Excel and the CLE (using the “ID number” field), but with this new “Paste from Spreadsheet” feature, the import process is greatly simplified!
If you are new to importing/exporting grades, review the general process on page 11 of this gradebook handout. It’s best to start by exporting the gradebook after students are enrolled, because that will generated the structure for you, including student names, grade items, and the all-important ID numberfield to match things up during import. When you’re ready to import, follow the steps below:
- In Excel, hide or delete all columns in your spreadsheet except for the “ID number” column, and the column(s) that represents the grade item(s) you wish to import
- Highlight and then copy those columns (right-click or use the keyboard shortcut Cmd/Ctrl-C)
- Open the gradebook in your CLE course
- Click the Import tab, and then the “Paste from spreadsheet” sub-tab
- Click into the Data box, and paste (right-click, or user the keyboard shortcut Cmd/Ctrl-V)
- Click the Upload Grades button
If you receive an error message, make sure that your column headers in the spreadsheet match EXACTLY with the grade item names in the CLE gradebook, including the first column, which should be “ID number.” If you get stuck, just drop us a line and we’re happy to help troubleshoot.
Yes, you can. However, it can be difficult to aggregate grade items that use scales, especially when combining with other grade items.
Scales tab – Click on the Scales tab in the gradebook to view a number of common scales already available. You can edit the existing scales, or create your own by clicking the Add a new scale button.
Using scales – The process of setting a grade item to use scales does vary slightly, depending on the activity. The assignment activity, for example, allows you to choose Scale as the Grade Type when you are accessing the assignment’s Edit settings page (see image to right). If you want to use a custom scale of your own, that scale must have been created in the gradebook, first.
Calculating with scales – Now the tricky part: All of the items in a scale have an underlying point value. That means, if you have scaled grade items mixed in with standard, numerical (points-based) grade items in one category of your gradebook, you may see some strange category totals!
Why do scales have numerical values associated with them, anyway? Well, it’s necessary, because without some quantifiable value, there would be no way to calculate any grades with them. Should you even try, though? In most cases, the answer is “no” because it will potentially confuse students.
Most gradebooks that use scales either (1) weight those scaled grade items to zero to remove them from grade calculations altogether, (2) manage student grades manually, and/or (3) the entire gradebook is based on scales, like pass/no pass.
Contact us if would like to explore scales further, and review this helpful document on Moodle.org for more information.
Any grade item in a course can be set as extra credit, and this is set on Categories and items tab within the gradebook. Points from extra credit grade items are calculated into a student’s final grade, but they do not alter category and course totals on the Categories and items tab.
For example, if your course includes exams and assignments that add up to 100 points, and you also include an extra credit assignment worth 10 points, the course total on the Categories and items tab will still display as 100 points, not 110.
To set a grade item as extra credit:
- From the left-hand nav bar, click Grades
- From the Grader report page, click the Categories and items tab
- Place a check mark in the Extra credit column next to each applicable grade item
- Click the Save changes button
Note: If the extra credit points are not associated with an assignment, quiz, or activity that already exists in the course, you will need to add a manual grade item for this purpose. This is also done on the Categories and items tab: click the Add grade item at the bottom of that page, name the grade item, set its point value, and then mark it as extra credit.
We recommend making a backup copy of your gradebook periodically throughout the term, especially if there are multiple course editors managing your course. Mistakes do happen, and remember, there is no “undo” button in the CLE!
The process is quick and easy:
- From the left-hand nav bar, click Grades
- From the Grader report page, click the Export tab
- Click the Excel spreadsheet sub-tab
- Optional: select the Include feedback in export check box
- In the Grade items to be included group, click to place a check mark next to all grade items that you wish to export (by default, all are selected)
- Click the Submit button
- Click the Download button to save the Excel file to your computer
If you want to edit grades and perform calculations in Excel, and then import those grades back into your CLE gradebook, please refer to the instructions on page 11 of the gradebook handout.
You can choose to delete or hide a grade item.
Deleting a grade item removes all record of that item from the course, including any grade data that may have been recorded, so proceed with caution!
- Delete manual grade items – open the Categories and items tab in the gradebook, and click the delete icon next to the item
- Delete activity-based grade items – you must remove it from the home page of the course. Navigate to the course home page, click the Turn editing on button and then from the Edit menu next to that activity, select Delete
Hiding a grade item from the gradebook leaves the item intact, and only hides it from the User report that students can access. This is often done when course editors are in the middle of manually grading an assignment, and don’t want some students to see their grades before others.
Also note that we do not recommend permanently hiding any grades from students, because this can lead to confusing results on their User report. When a grade item is hidden, category totals also become hidden, to prevent students from calculating the missing results on their own (though you can change this behavior: Gradebook > Settings > User report > Hide totals if they contain hidden items).
Hidden items appear in a lighter, greyed-out color to course editors in the gradebook.
- Hiding quiz grades – must be done in the quiz. Open the quiz, click on Edit quiz from the gear icon, and then change its Maximum grade to zero
- All other grade items – open the Categories and items tab in the gradebook, and click the show/hide icon next to the item
Alternatively, you can use a weighting aggregation method in your gradebook, and weight grade items to zero, so those grade items don’t affect a student’s final grade. Students will still be able to see those grade items.
The grade item is probably locked. Grades can be locked on the grader report, the Categories and items tab, or on each individual grade item’s settings page. The most common place for managing the locking and unlocking of grades is on the grader report.
Open the gradebook, and click the Turn editing on button. You will see small padlock icons appear in the grading grid. Click the padlock icons to toggle the grade item between the unlocked and locked states. You can also lock/unlock an entire column, or grade item, by click the padlock icon at the top of a column.
Note: If you lock the grade for an activity, and then make changes to the activity or student scores in the activity, the grader report will NOT show those updates. Locking an item in the grader report prevents manual and automatic updates of that grade item!
Unlike other grade items, the visibility of quiz scores cannot be directly controlled in the gradebook by clicking the show/hide icons. Instead, these settings are controlled in the quiz itself, on its Edit settings page.
- Open a quiz
- From Administration block, click Edit settings
- Scroll down to the Review options group
- Click to place a check-mark in the Points boxes that correspond to when you want students to see their scores