[Assignments] weighting in assignment groups

It seems this has been a reoccurring request for some time now, but is not generating the votes needed to get attention. Perhaps it is time to try again!

Canvas would benefit greatly from being able to allocate a weighting to individual assignments within an assignment group. At present, rather than an overarching "Geography" assignment group for HASS, I have to put each individual assignment in their own group to distribute task weighting for the course. HASS also covers economics, politics and history - that makes for A LOT of assignment groups to break up the weighting for tasks.

In my view, it would be much simpler to have the Assignment Group that aligns with the unit or module being taught and has a weighting for the overall course, and an individual assignment weighting function within the group without having to fiddle around with the points. I think most teachers would agree that there is enough of a workload without adjusting and readjusting points to weight assignments according to their worth. I for one wold love to be able to do this with a quick click of a button instead of laboriously pouring over numbers.

Please vote up on this - it is clear that many people are asking for this function in many different ways.

Gradebook: weigh assignment within assignment group

Weighting Assignments

Improve Gradebook settings options Theme Status: Identified

Community Champion

I would love to see assignment groups within assignment groups! I think this would give students more useful sub-totals in the grades screen. (In your example they would see the Theory and Practice subtotals, perhaps expandable to see the subgroups of each.)  Currently, the number of groups required to accomplish accurate weighting can create a cluttered list of subtotals.

There is a way to make your example work within the existing system however:

A course's grades are divided into two main groups with associated weighting:

Theory (60%) - composed of Assignments (24%), Discussions (18%), and Quizzes (18%)

Practice (40%) - composed of Research (20%) and Presentations (20%).

Note that I've done the math to distribute the 60% and 40% primary groups into the smaller subgroups.  Those subgroups can be named Theory-Assignments, Theory-Discussions, Theory-Quizzes, Practice-Research, and Practice-Presentations.  Then the sub-groups are the only assignment groups you need.

Once you have an assignment group for every weighting of assignments, you can total each assignment to 100 points, and divide those points between questions/rubric rows in whatever way is appropriate for the assignment.  You can add as many pop-quizzes (for example) as needed and the quiz average will always calculate correctly.

Community Member

In all of my classes, I have assignment groups, or categories, that are weighted differently. However, within each category, I want all the assignments to be weighted equally. This has never been an issue until my institution changed from Moodle to Canvas. Every assignment varies in terms of the number of questions, type of question, etc. Therefore, the number of points any given assignment is worth varies greatly. In Moodle, I could have each assignment in a category be out of a different number of points, but tell Moodle to take the average of all the assignments, weighting each one equally. I just assumed one could do the same in Canvas. Apparently not! Since each of my assignments is out a different number of points, Canvas is automatically give greater weight to the assignments with more points. I have set up the gradebook for all section of the course taught. I only just discovered this problem. Students grades in Canvas are being not correctly calculated, based on what I told them in the syllabus. I find it outrageous that Canvas it is forcing me to either: create all assignments out of the same number of points, manually convert all my students grades to percents before entering them, list every assignment/quiz etc. as its own assignment group, or change the way I calculate grades. This is a particularly an issue with quizzes. Why should I be forced to have all quizzes be worth the same number of points in order for the average to come out correctly? Canvas should be making it easier for instructors to keep students up to date on their grades. As of today, none of my students know their actual grade as all the calculations are off.

Community Champion

You are right, it would be easier to have all quizzes have the same total if we could set a value for quizzes and have the points automatically distributed between questions.  There is another idea about that: https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/1683-assign-a-total-quiz-value-and-automatically-distribute-th... (I would only add that I would want to be able to override the automatic distribution for individual questions.)

When we started in canvas, I created quizzes by distributing total 100 points to the quiz questions in order to assign a percent of the quiz grade to each question.  It is true that any total point value works as long as all quizzes have the same number of points, but using 100 points as the total lets me treat the points the same as a percent.  That makes converting pre-canvas quizzes easier, and saves you from manually converting individual scores to percents

Community Champion

Our old LMS, D2L, allowed for us to weight a group AND individual assignments within the group. I can attest to this being very helpful.

I'm currently working on a class that has weighted groups: discussions, quizzes, and written assignments. Written assignments are weighted to 70% of the grade, and the instructor wants them all to count equally. However, she has different point values for each rubric, and the rubrics don't always add up to the same point value (nor can they naturally be adjusted to make them the same number of points--some have 7 criteria and some have 10). So she has to either: artificially change the point values of the criteria in the rubrics to make them all add up to the same total, which would make some criteria worth more than others (not what she wants) or some of the assignments within the written assignment category are going to be worth more of the students' grades than others, which is also bad.

Allowing weighted assignments within a weighted group is good pedagogy.

Community Participant

I completely agree!  Our university recently switched from Moodle to Canvas after a campus vote was taken, and many faculty are receiving this same surprise that Canvas can't weight assignments with different point values equally within assignment groups.  Many never thought to ask this question before voting for Canvas because this capability is such a standard feature in every other gradebook that it never occurred to them to ask whether or not Canvas could do this.  It's kind of like designing a pocket calculator that can't divide numbers and then being surprised that your customers don't ask whether the calculator can divide before buying it.  This issue has caused a lot of extra work for those of us who aren't willing to change our pedagogy to account for Canvas's lack of functionality.

Community Novice

I agree with Jerry Morris on this - but we have been having this discussion for at least 3 or 4 years now. What could be so hard about a no-brainer issue like this? I have never seen a gradebook before where you can only weight an assignment by total number of points. Yes, there are many excellent things about Canvas, and I am happy to be using it - but this feature is not a selling point, nor is the requirement for endless discussion before being moved to make obvious improvements a selling point either.

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Community Novice

Hi.  We're also transitioning from Blackboard to Canvas here at Northeastern at present.  In my class, which was part of the trial to explore Canvas, we have an assignment that has two components, one worth 60% and one worth 40%.  We actually have five instances of this that account for 50% of the final grade.  Doing this in Blackboard is fairly easy and seems from what I read here, a common need.  [Notice I didn't ask for groups of groups.]  I found the thread interesting given all the support and disappointing given the responses and lack of action.

The issue has been around for 3-4 years and has 600+ positives versus 33 negatives.  I'm not sure how input from the users is counted, but this seems like a feature that is both not all that hard technically and important to a number of folks.

The responses from Instructure are a bit disappointing.  The comments seem to be:

1.  the majority just need a simple structure, so we did that.  [this is fine and the right thing to do - at least at first.]

2. There's a workaround: you just do the weighting when you create the scores.  You can download scores and do the work in Excel, or you can pull out your calculators and figure out the points.

This second answer is unsettling - at least  given my impression that canvas is a major LMS system and a mature product.  First, putting our (or at least my) users first, the students, this approach means I score the 60% element on a scale of 60 and the 40% element on a scale of 40.  Fine.  So I give a 57 and a 36.  What do students take away?  57/60  and 36/40 is the same thing as 95/100 and 90/100, but students don't read the two the same way.   Ok, so I could play games by having multiple columns for the same score, hiding some and exposing others, but that's a consistency pain and an administrative pain. Second, while these workarounds are an easy thing to do, why should I have to do it?  I mean, isn't canvas a mature product by now?  Isn't a robust grade book a reasonable expectation for a product that is mature?

My workaround seems to do the weighting off-line and not use Canvas to calculate the actual weighted scores for anything.  If I have to go to the trouble to create a spreadsheet for part of the grade book, it seems prudent to consolidate the work and do it all off-line in Excel and import all the weighted totals back to Canvas. At least this way when there is a calculation occurring, all the pieces happen in one place.  While it's a very nice web interface for reporting scores, it's not doing much for me on the back-end.  So it goes.

Mike

Community Champion

Hello  @m_weintraub

Most of the work-arounds that you see here are coming from users like you and me, not from canvas as an excuse not to add the feature.  I believe that even most of us that offer work-arounds would like to see this as an added option.  This idea is currently one of the top 20 scoring ideas (out of 1647 ideas open for voting), and so I'm sure the canvas teams are paying attention.  I offer work-arounds because I know that as instructors, we need solutions faster than canvas can provide given the many ideas and required testing of solutions.

I also grade my students out of 100 points for the very reason you describe, and I do have a couple of ideas that might help you for now.  Depending on the assignment, I have different solutions to your dilemma of combining 60% and 40% elements.

For an assignment where the elements are all turned in at once, I attach a rubric to the assignment, so that the canvas assignment is worth 100 points, and the then within the rubric I set each element's value at the appropriate 60 points or 40 points.  Students are able to open the rubric to see how their scores on the two elements contributed to one total grade.  This avoids confusion by prominently displaying the composite (100 point) score to students.

For assignments that are turned in in parts (such as a rough draft and a final paper), I create one assignment group worth 20% for all of the elements that are cumulatively 40% of half the total grade, and a second assignment group worth 30% for all of the assignments that are cumulatively worth 60% of half of the total grade.  (And of course other groups covering the remaining 50% of the grade)  In this case students do not see the 40% and 60% added together for a combined grade on each assignment.  Instead they see the score for each element as a grade out of 100 points, and they also see the correct impact on their final grade.

Using my example, the best organization to display to students is a rough draft paired with the matching final paper, not grouped with other rough drafts as needed for grading.  Therefore, I also hide the assignment tab from students, and link assignments together for students in the modules tab.

Community Novice

Thanks, Steve.  If I misread some of the "if it hurts when I do this/don't do that" type comments as coming from Instructure, my apologies.  The two ideas are good.  The rubric one doesn't work for my situation, but it is good nonetheless.

The gradebook overall is quite impoverished.  While it does do something things very well, it seems lacking overall.  This is just one of a list of shortcomings.  But hopefully the next versions will bring the gradebook and the assignment structures up a notch, which would be grand.

Community Novice

Yes indeed.  I think there is low tolerance of such slow/poor upgrades from Canvas, much as from Apple who take a VERY similar approach, because while their market share and revenue are enormous, their ability to respond to completely reasonable user expectations is at no where near that level.  The 'pound sand' frustration when an industry is an oligopoly: