In order to have grades reflect student mastery of course Outcomes, I propose that Canvas add the option for teachers to base student grades on students' performance on Outcomes. This would include the following features:
- Teachers could choose which outcomes they want included or excluded from the grading procedure.
- Teachers could assign weights and/or points to individual outcomes or to outcome groups--similar to how they currently can do to assignment categories/groups, but for outcomes instead.
- Teachers could create outcome-based grading criteria to match (e.g. to get an A, you need a certain percentage in all outcomes or to pass, you need a certain percentage in certain outcomes).
- On individual assignment rubrics, teachers could have the option of marking an outcome as "Unassessed" for a particular student, excluding it from that student's grade calculation--similar to how teachers can currently mark an assignment as "Excused" for a student.
Doing this would allow teachers to ensure that students' grades represent students' mastery of outcomes, rather than how well they did overall on certain types of assessments.
Motivation & Need for Change:
In the current climate, teachers, departments, and institutions are encouraged to base courses and instruction around student learning outcomes in order to assure that students achieve what is intended by their classes. While Canvas currently supports the development of student learning outcomes and groups of Outcomes, it does not provide teachers with the option of having student grades directly based upon which outcomes they have mastered. Instead, grades can only be directly determined by assessment types or categories (i.e. performance on assignments, quizzes, exams, etc.).
The only things Canvas allows teachers to do with Outcomes are: a) view and generate reports of which outcomes students have mastered & the extent of that mastery, and b) use rubrics to use outcomes to generate an overall score on individual graded items.
Suppose that my math class included the following Outcome groups and Outcomes:
- A - Solving novel & challenging problems:
- A1 - Use models to understand & make sense of a problem.
- A2 - Find patterns by generating and organizing data.
- A3 - Arriving at a correct and complete solution.
- B - Writing math arguments:
- B1 - Using language that explains why the solution is correct, rather than how it was solved.
- B2 - Basing argument on appropriate assumptions.
- B3 - Recognizing when an argument can be made with a single example verses a general explanation.
- C - Using precision:
- C1 - Performing calculations accurately and without error.
- C2 - Using math symbols correctly and conventionally.
- C3 - Using math terminology and language correctly.
Further, suppose that:
- Assignment 1 only shows students' ability to do outcomes in groups A and C and a student does it perfectly (100%).
- Assignment 2 shows students' ability to do outcomes in groups A, B, and C and the same student does great on the outcomes in A and C, but could not do B at all (say 66%).
- Quiz 1 only shows students' ability to do outcomes in group C and the student does perfectly (100%).
Under the current system, only the students' overall grade on each assessment could be used to determine their grade; the fact that they have not at all mastered Outcomes in B is lost. If all 3 items had equal weight, the student's grade would be 88% (pretty high), even though they did not master a certain set of outcomes for the course.
If, however, we could opt to base grades on their performance on Outcomes, then grading might look like this:
- On assignment 1, the student earned 100% for outcomes in A & 100% for outcomes in C.
- On assignment 2, the student earned 100% for outcomes in A, 0% for outcomes in B, and 100% for outcomes in C.
- On Quiz 1, the student earned 100% for outcomes in C.
Then (assuming each outcome group, rather than assignment type, had equal weight), the student's grade would be 66% (100% for Outcome group A, 0% for Outcome group B, and 100% for Outcome group C). This more accurately reflects the Outcomes for the course.
With this option, teachers could control how important each outcome or group of outcomes were for the course and have direct control over how they impact grades. Furthermore, grades would focus students on what they need to be working on and motivate improvement in those Outcomes.