Community Contributor

## Points or benchmark grading schemes?

I was asked today by one of my instructional designers if there was a way to create a grading scheme without using percentages for the course.  Instead they wanted to use benchmarks or points/scores accumulated, for example:

0-99 points is an F

100-199 is a D

200-299 is a C

300-399 is a B

400 and above is an A

In this case the total possible points does not matter, its more about meeting certain point benchmarks and once they are met your grade will increase based off the points the student has earned.

Is this possible in Canvas?

Looking at the guides and going into Canvas myself i only see percentages as a possible for assigning a letter grade using a grading scheme.  Anyone have any insight on this?

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1 Solution
Coach Emeritus

@jazemlya ​, I'm actually thinking this would work. Technically the scale can be converted to a percent if we could get the top number of points available in the course. For example, if the top number of points was 500 then:

0-99 points is an F --> 0-19%

100-199 is a D --> 20-39%

200-299 is a C --> 40-59%

300-399 is a B --> 60-79%

400-500 is an A --> 80-100%

The instructor would want to:

What would then happen is that all students would start the course with an F (0-19% or 0-99 points) because every assignment would show a zero in the gradebook. Then, as the student earned more points, their letter grade would slowly raise based on the points (technically percent) they had earned out of the total (500 in my example).

Does this make sense? Does this help?

16 Replies
Coach Emeritus

@jazemlya ​, I'm actually thinking this would work. Technically the scale can be converted to a percent if we could get the top number of points available in the course. For example, if the top number of points was 500 then:

0-99 points is an F --> 0-19%

100-199 is a D --> 20-39%

200-299 is a C --> 40-59%

300-399 is a B --> 60-79%

400-500 is an A --> 80-100%

The instructor would want to:

What would then happen is that all students would start the course with an F (0-19% or 0-99 points) because every assignment would show a zero in the gradebook. Then, as the student earned more points, their letter grade would slowly raise based on the points (technically percent) they had earned out of the total (500 in my example).

Does this make sense? Does this help?

Community Contributor

@kona ​ I think this could work.  The only issue is what if the course is not set at just 500?  there is potential for that course to grow into more points available than 500 from my understanding so cant put a cap on where an A ends.  It needs to be fluid.  It i had the option to make an A from range 400- max course points then that would work.  But if i make it static then the instructor has to make sure to not add or remove any graded assignments as that would offset the grading scheme.  The grading scheme may still stay the same but the highest possible points could increase and that would put the percentages off that you have outlined.

Coach Emeritus

As long as the instructor knew that there would be at "least" 500 points (or whatever number he wanted) then it wouldn't matter if more points got added. The only thing that would put a wrench in the system is if he would then want to adjust the number of points needed to get a D, C, & B.

Community Contributor

Maybe i am misunderstanding how the grading scheme works but if you add more points than what is initially set then that wouldn't that skew the percentages?

For example if the course ends up with 550 total points possible, following what you outlined:

0-104.5 points is an F --> 0-19%

105-214.5 is a D --> 20-39%

215-324.5 is a C --> 40-59%

325-434.5 is a B --> 60-79%

435-550 is an A --> 80-100%

Since the grading scheme is based off of percents and not points possible, the student would need to get 435 points to get an A when the original intention was for it to be 400 no matter what.  I am not sure what is stopping the grades from being skewed since the scheme it is based off percentages.

Coach Emeritus

Ah, yes, you are correct. The only way this would work is if the instructor stays within a certain max number of points. Yet, wow those points are distributed between assignments doesn't matter, just that the total number of points in the course stays the same.

So... could the instructor at least agree on a total max number (say 600) and then put in some type of dummy/placeholder assignment for the extra points he doesn't know what he wants to do with yet (say 100 points), but knows he has to use? He could then have the freedom of assigning extra assignments as needed and could adjust the dummy/placeholder assignment point value down until he'd used up all the points. It would take some creativity on his part, but if he wants to do it and use the Canvas gradebook this looks like the best solution.

Coach Emeritus

@jazemlya ​, did you get a chance to check out my last response? Just checking to see if you think this might work.

Community Contributor

Kona,

I talked with my Instructional designer and we agree that your suggestion is the best course of action.  It sounds like the instructor is willing to go the max number option and just set the bar from the beginning.  Thanks for your help talking this through!

Justin

Coach Emeritus

Very good! Glad you think this will work!

Community Contributor

I am struggling with this same issue right now. I just switched a course to a points-based system instead of percentages, because extra credit was such a nightmare in the percentage scheme, only to find that there is no actual point-based grading option available. I want to do the exact same thing that this instructor was trying to do: set point ranges for letter grades, rather than percents, so that I can give students flexibility in how they earn the required points add extra credit options as the course goes along without having it screw up the grade scale.

I checked the community boards for this feature, and didn't find it already proposed, but I'm not sure that I was searching effectively. Is there any chance that this is under consideration? Ultimately, it's the same proposal that I've up-voted half a dozen times in various forms: just let us override the total point value used to calculate the grades.

Instructure Alumni

@bsr , if the only reason you switched to a points-based grading system from a percentage-based one is because of extra credit, may I suggest that you have a look at this resource: Extra credit using weighted assignment groups.​ Personally, I've found managing extra credit in a weighted assignment group system to be far easier than it is in a points-based one.

I don't see a feature idea for points-based grading schemes that is currently under consideration. I was able to find this-- --that was archived in November because of its low vote total. You might consider submitting a new idea; things change, and interests change, so perhaps it will garner more interest now.

New Member

I have a related issue.  I teach an on-line introductory art history course with a pick-and-choose approach to assignments.  Because of this structure there is no relative weighting of anything: each assignment is worth X number of points, period.  The course contains 1300 points but I grade the course out of 1000 points.

The beauty of the points system is its utter transparency.   And, as one of your other posters noted, I like the ability to easily add extra credit -- which I like to do during the semester to incentivize students to take advantage of relevant opportunities that arise only after the term is underway.

At the moment I have established a percentage-based grading scheme but as with the prior posters I find this awkward at best and potentially very confusing to students at worst.  The need to convert to percentages and then to set percentage-based grades is very awkward: 1000 points is an A+ but it is only 78% of the total points available.   I teach a lot of first-term (and first-gen) students and the last thing they need to see is an "F" staring them in the face for the first few months of the term--hence the impracticality of setting ungraded assignments to 0.  Finally, I can't, as my students put it, "kick extra credit our way" once the semester is up and running because, frankly, I can't be recalibrating percentages every time there's a guest speaker in town.

Rather than a work around, I would like to ask that Canvas add a second type of grading scheme, one based on a total number of points.

New Member

(I just added a proposal to canvas studio; if you are on this thread and would like to see points grading, please vote it up.)

Community Participant
How/where can I find this proposal to vote on it? Can you provide a link?
Community Coach

Hi @jbielecki ...

There is a temporary halt on all parts of Feature Ideas until the beginning of February.  This includes things like rating Feature Ideas with a star, commenting on existing Feature Ideas, and creating new Feature Ideas.  You can read more about this at Idea Conversations: The Path Forward.  They are doing some re-org and clean-up of the current process, but early next year things should be back to working order.

Hope this helps a bit.

Community Participant

Same. Following this thread. Thank you for posting.

New Member

I am also looking for this feature. Has there been any attempt to overthrow the tyranny of percentages? This is a major normative pedagogical expectation -- that student performance ought to be judged by percentage success at every assignment rather than accumulation of achievements -- that is baked into Canvas.

Anyone have new workarounds? The workarounds described above look to me like they will seriously confuse students!