Calculated Grade Best Practices

This morning, an instructor stopped into my office to discuss Calculated Grades.  Apparently, the instructor had been approached by a student who thought he had an ‘F’ in the course.  However, because the student had completed a Pre-Test, but not the Post-Test, they were getting 50% for the test, thus bringing down the grade.  After working through some ideas, I thought it might be a good idea to get a few best practices about Final Grades out.

Know What Your Students See in Grades

Every Gradebook is different, so be sure to adjust the Grades Settings to ensure the students are seeing what you expect them to see.  (Remember: if you want to see what your students are seeing, you can always Impersonate Aarnie Aardvark.)

Release Final Grades at the Beginning of the Semester

Students, at least in the United States, like to know the status of their grade as often as possible.  By releasing the Final Calculated Grade, the student will know their calculated grade from the first date through the last date and there won’t be any surprised in the end.

Drop Ungraded Items

It’s very discouraging for students to see 0’s for assignments that haven’t even been assigned yet.  It’s even more discouraging for a student who has earned A’s on every assignment to have a 36% at midterm because they haven’t finished the Final Exam.

Only put 0s in Grades after the due date passes, so the student isn’t penalized for work that has yet to be assigned.

Don’t Put Partial Grades In One Column

This one most often applies to Attendance, but it could also apply to the situation above with a Pre- and Post-Test.  If at midterm, you give the student 150/300 because they’ve attended half of the class sessions so far, you’ve just given them a 0% on classes they haven’t yet had the chance to attend.  This will artificially bring their grade down.  If you don’t want to have a column for each class session, consider only adding attendance grades at the end of the semester.

Update Grades Regularly

Several years ago, we had a student file an academic appeal after showing up the first day and getting 8/10 on a quiz.  Seeing a grade of 80% in D2L and never getting updated, they assumed they didn’t need to show up to class. So, when they flunked the course, they were shocked.  So, when grades come in, update them in D2L.  It will even solve the issue of students asking about their grades in the classroom.

Keep Communication Open With Students

Have you ever made a mistake with your grades that a student points out.  As someone who has entered a Final Exam of ’91’ as a ’19’, I can confidently say we’ve all made mistakes.  Be sure your students feel comfortable approaching you when their grade seems off.  Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to students who appear to be struggling.  It’s the learning coming from those conversations that is most important.

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