I'm rather appalled by the Canvas Grading Scheme feature now that I've tried it out. Below is a snapshot of my grading scheme from my syllabus. Below that is a snapshot of the Canvas Grading Scheme that *looks* like a match for my grading scheme. But in fact, when Canvas says < 93%, it is being very literal! One of my students has a 92.82% overall grade. Canvas gave her an A-, not an A. No rounding whatsoever! <93% means even a 92.99% would be an A-.
I worked around this by subtracting half a point from the right-side numbers in Canvas, i.e., the 97% became a 96.5%, the 93% became a 92.5%, etc. But I think:
Anybody know if the new grading scheme UI will be more user-friendly than the current one?
--Mary Ann M-P
@maypumphreymary , the Canvas grading scheme is no more than a default grading scheme. You don't have to use it; you can create your own, and I've been doing that for years with great success. Your bespoke grading scheme will accommodate any rounding you wish to have applied to grades. Here's the one I use:
Click on Manage grading schemes to create your own grading scheme. You can learn more about that at https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-2918 .
I don't think I made myself clear! I had to create my own grading scheme to match the ones from my syllabus right off the bat. But it didn't work because Canvas did not round students' grades to the nearest whole number. So, I had to do something really "Mickey Mouse." I had to modify my original grading scheme to look like the one below. That allowed my student with the 92.81% to get the A she deserved instead of the A- that non-rounding Canvas was giving her. Make sense now?
Stefanie: My point is that almost all instructors are going to give whole numbers in the grading table they show their students. So, Canvas should allow us to enter those whole numbers into the grading scheme, easy-peasy. But it does NOT! We have to put in a whole bunch of .5's so that we'll get rounding. Canvas should take care of that. This is what is known in the world of software testing as a usability bug. My biggest concern is that not all instructors will realize that they have to do this .5 business and will wind up giving students the wrong grades....
While I respect that teachers all have their own ideas and make their own personal choices when it comes to grading, and if you choose to round a 92.81 up and call it an A it's your business, that is not how I would, or ever have, graded my students' work. A 95 is an A. Above 95 is an A plus, and below 95 is an A minus. I've found simplicity and accuracy to be the best way to help my students improve their grades, and they are all well aware that they will only receive the grade they actually EARNED, legitimately. I will not round, as doing so would not be accurately representative of the graded work. This, in all my years teaching, has been accepted and understood by every student I've ever had the pleasure to work with. I hope you find a way to grade on canvas that works better for you. Possibly by proposing your idea to Canvas yourself, as someone previously suggested. Good luck.
I definitely see your point and this is something that we ran across in our early days of Canvas. We have trained our faculty to use the .5 if they want to give higher grades to those in the .5 to .9 range. If Canvas automatically rounded up if some had a grade between .5 and .9, then we would be having the other side of this conversation. It would be nice if there was a check box or option that said, round the final grade or don't round the final grade in Canvas, but that currently does not exist. Here is the great thing about Canvas, I would recommend that you submit a feature request here https://community.canvaslms.com/community/ideas?sr=search&searchId=8a27245a-9e57-4e36-8ad7-5feda2e03..., and get the community behind such a feature. If it garners enough community support, Canvas developers will take a look at it and see if it is possible to add to Canvas.
At this point, adding the .5 to the grading scheme is the only way to solve the issue you are having.
> If Canvas automatically rounded up if some had a grade between .5 and .9, then we would be having the other side of this conversation.
Really? I don't think so! Any instructor who truncated a grade of nn.99 to just nn would undoubtedly face a protest from the unfortunate student recipient if s/he noticed the issue. Rounding up is the much more natural/common thing to do, in my opinion and experience....
When it comes to grading, there is no telling what does and doesn't happen based on people's purely personal assumptions. The idea that 92.6 is an A, but 92.4 is not (and, oh no, what about poor old 92.5), shows that it is ultimately quite arbitrary and frustrating to the students, no matter what the mathematics of rounding might be. There are things that might be "common" about grading practices, but there is nothing "natural" about grading.
I'm a foe of grading in general ("all feedback, no grades" is my motto), and I am especially a foe of number-based grading. I've written up some thoughts about that here:
For a different perspective from an advocate of proficiency-based grading, see Nicole Naditz's post at Alice Keeler's blog:
Just speaking for myself, I think the need to get away from traditional ABCDF grading is one of the most pressing issues in education today. There are lots of alternatives, and there is not one alternative that will suit everybody. For example, Nicole Naditz and I both agree that the current system is a mess, but we have found different fixes that work for us based on our goals, our needs, our students, etc. In my opinion I think it's in everyone's interest to ponder their grading scheme and, even better, to ask your students what they think about it. Here's what my students say about the all-feedback scheme I use:
Our nursing professors do not round. Ever. They would not use Canvas if it did automatically round, and they would be vocal with their displeasure. Robbie is right: we would be having the other side of the conversation.
I round sometimes. Sometimes I round more generously than the traditional 9.5 and up but only if my students pull themselves up as far as they can on assignments that allow multiple attempts.
I like the Canvas grading schemes just the way they are because they allow me to set a default and work from there.
I don't use grading schemes (as a general principle, I'm not a fan of percentage-out-of for grading), but this is a very useful discussion that I need to share with people at my school! @keeganlong-whee have you had people run into this problem yet?
Thanks to everybody for the detailed comments!
I agree with the assessment that some (I might even give you most) instructors will find this confusing. I think this probably a much bigger issue than we actually realize (details follow). But I disagree that rounding to the nearest whole number is the "right thing" to do is.
I pulled grading standard data for the 394 courses from our Spring 2017 term that were published and had enrollments in them. 191 (48.5%) of them did not use a grading scheme at all.
Of the 203 courses that did use a grading scheme, there were 19 unique schemes. I boiled all of the grading schemes down to one of these 19 to make it easier to understand what was going on. We have the "Traditional" grading scheme, which is the first one that comes up. Our Canvas Admin thinks Canvas had one we didn't like so we created our own and deleted theirs, but it's been so long ago she's not sure. We can't edit it, only delete it, and it's the 90%, 80%, 70%, 60% scale that does not allow for rounding.
98 (48.3%) of those 203 courses with a grading scheme used this traditional / default grading scheme. 43 (21.2%) used a specific grading scheme we created at the account level for Health Professions who, as others have noted, do not want rounding to occur at all.
The next largest grading scheme was welding with 25 (12.3%) of the 203 courses, where there is no "D" -- if you don't make 70%, you fail.
As part of the process, I also had it count how many decimal places were given in any of the lines in the grading scheme. 2 schemes (used in 8 courses) 2 decimal places. I think that's more of the instructor not understanding what's going on as a C- stopped at 70% and a D+ stopped at 68.99%, which means that a 68.98% would be a D, but 68.99% would be a D-. Looking at it, I'm pretty sure the instructor wanted anything at least 69 but below 70 to be a D+. Also notice the very small window for an F -- anything at least 59% but less than 60%.
The other grading scheme with 2 decimal places was identical to the one above except that the F actually went down to 0.
Then I found this grading scheme. The person who created this understood the rounding issue.
That grading scheme was the only grading scheme (out of the 19 different ones), who accounted for rounding. That grading scheme was used one time in one course.
That means that 202 (99.5%) of the 203 courses that were using a grading scheme were either intentionally not rounding or unaware of the rounding issue. Sure in that 99.5% of people using a grading scheme, there was more than one person who wanted to round. That's why I'm willing to grant that perhaps most instructors are confused. The funny thing is that the one course with the rounding handled properly is in an area that stresses they do not round and even has in the syllabus that "there is no curve" (I know, curve is not the same as round).
Even though some professors might want to round, the problem is that I don't know who they are, and without going through each syllabus one at a time, I won't find out on my own. I guess we could send out a message to everyone teaching with Canvas making them aware of the issue and asking them to double check their grading scheme.
We have been working on a peer review of online courses and part of that is to go through the syllabus and double check the grading scale there with what is actually in Canvas. It's been going on for almost 2 years and in that time, I don't think anyone has ever noticed the rounding until you brought this up -- so thank you. So I'm more than willing to admit that there's major confusion.
But in support of the faculty, almost half of those are using the default grading scheme, which means that they kind of "took our word" that it's okay. I think the default one from Canvas (at least it is in Free for Teachers) includes a plus/minus scale with no rounding. Instructors familiar with rounding in their head won't think to question what Canvas has when it has the same numbers that they have -- they just assume that Canvas is rounding like they round. That could be a failure on our part. Perhaps a better solution would have been to have "Traditional (no rounding)" and "Traditional (rounding)" as the grading schemes that show up from the account level. That might help the issue. I actually did that for a couple of years in my courses before I went to the +/- thing and then didn't care so much. But at this point, we're 4.5 years into using Canvas, and tracking down who wanted to round and who didn't want to round is going to be difficult.
Luckily for us, we don't have automatic grade passback to our student information system and instructors are required to manually enter the grades. Because we're manually entering them, we're more likely to catch an 79.7% as a B rather than someone who relies on the computer to do it for them. We also have some discretion this way -- intangibles that don't make it into the gradebook that cause a 78.7% to be a B.
I will admit that there are other possibilities and stories as I didn't look at all 19 of the grading schemes.
I know that mine doesn't use decimals and my grading scheme in Canvas does not match the grading scheme in my syllabus -- on purpose. In Canvas, I have plus and minus values, but our school doesn't allow those for the final grade. How do I get by with this? I have a statement about the gradebook in my syllabus.
When you look at your grades in Canvas, there may be a + or - after the letter grade (example, B+ or C-). The plus or minus after the letter grade is informational and intended to be used as an encouragement or a warning that you might be able to move up or that you are in danger of slipping down. However, the final grades in the course will not contain a + or a -, just the letter grade, and an 80.1% is as much of a B as an 88.7% is.
I've got another statement in my syllabus about grades.
A: 90–100% B: 80–89% C: 70–79% 😧 60–69% F: below 60%
Normal rounding will occur, so a 79.5% will round up to 80% and be considered a "B".
I think this is where the break-down between human and computer comes into play. As humans, we see numbers like 90-100% and 80-89% and automatically make the reasonable assumption that we're going to round the final score to the nearest percent. The only issue I have ever had with the + and - in my Canvas gradebook is at the end of a semester when a student is scrambling to figure out what grade they have and if it's going to be possible to get the grade the want. One or two a semester will ask about a 69.7%, which is showing up in the gradebook as D+. All I have to say is "I round" and they're satisfied. I don't even have to tell them what I round to. They assume -- as humans do -- that it's to the nearest whole number.
Computers don't make that assumption though, and Canvas has decided to round to two decimal places. That was a conscious decision on their part. I'm okay with it -- I often give decimal points for assignments and I like it. I realize that other people like integers and that some would like to have it configurable. There have been feature requests towards that end.
You have to round at some point or have really ugly decimals in the gradebook. Two decimals is, in my opinion, a reasonable number.
But you have to tell Canvas yourself that you want to round -- it doesn't know that. Some people don't want to round and want a 92.99% to be a 92.99%, not a 93%.
In the absence of a checkbox (or drop down) that asks how many decimal places you want to round the gradebook to, the only option is to do the rounding yourself in the grading scheme. Think of it as a continuous variable, not discrete. Computers can normally do math better than humans (not if you're asking them to auto-grade a symbolic math answer), but, and this is a big BUT, they rely on humans to properly feed the parameters to them in order to do so.
Canvas stores the lower cut-off for each interval. Anything less than that value is considered as part of the next lower grading line. This is one of those areas where I think the documentation is weak and could be improved. Their examples include only integer values. They did this with the multiple answers quizzes, so some people thought they had to make those question worth more than other questions on the quiz. In this case, there is no mention of what to do about rounding. That would be a great addition to the documentation because I imagine that a lot of instructors do want to round to the nearest integer.
@James has provided a really useful analysis with that bird's-eye view of what is going on in an institutional cohort of instructors. That's a great reminder that while each of us is immersed in our own grading policy, there are many different approaches out there, based on different assumptions but all at the same time stifled by the numbers-only grading in Canvas, and then the Tarzanesque vocabulary of ABCDF (with or without pluses and minuses) that our schools then require.
And what I want to add is that the bird's-eye view is also the students' view. Instructors are each busy crafting what they think is the solution to the problem of grading. We each aim to be fair and consistent in our grading policy, and that's good. But as a result of each of us trying so hard to be fair and consistent, we forget that the students realize very clearly how arbitrary it is. That's because they see how inconsistent the schemes are from class to class, and thus the absurdity of our individual efforts at internal fairness and consistency.
One class rounds; another doesn't.
In one class 93 is an A.
In another class 90 is an A.
One class penalizes late work.
In one class, no attendance is taken.
In another class, three unexcused absences lowers your grade by a half-letter grade.
Or a whole-letter grade.
Or maybe it's four unexcused absences?
And on and on and on and on.
As a result we seem to have accuracy and precision in the context of our own classes, but the students — who have to endure different grading schemes in every class — see the absurdity of it all very clearly. Faux accuracy and faux precision.
As I said above, I think the need to get away from traditional ABCDF grading is one of the most pressing issues in education today.
#TTOG as they say at Twitter. 🙂
I've collected materials related to the Teachers Throwing Out Grades movement here: Grading.MythFolklore.net.
I should add that it is K-12 teachers like Starr Sackstein who are leading the way here.
Even though higher ed faculty members have much more freedom in how they conduct assessment and evaluation, we make very little use of that (except for the Titanic-deckchair-rearranging of whether to round up or not to round up).
When I went to snag that Twitter stream URL, one of Starr's items was at the top of the stream, and I cannot say enough good things about her book:
To piggy back on what both @James says about "the instructor / instructional designer / Canvas admin should create grading schemes with the rounding in place and then label them that way" and laurakgibbs says about "how inconsistent the schemes are from class to class", I want to say I agree!
As an instructional designer, I take the extra effort to program the custom grading scheme listed on the instructor's syllabus. Most of instructors I work with use straight points, so I do a little math to convert to the percents, but once that's done, no body expects (to my knowledge) any sort of rounding-- the points you have are the only points you have. Our school reports all grades as GPA amounts like 4.0, 3.9, 3.8 and so forth, so I put in a custom grading scale so the students sees that grade when they are looking in their course grades page. So while the percents equivalents will be different from course to course, they are all reporting as a GPA grade.
To my the frustration of different percents are different grades (letter grade or GPA grade) happens when students look at all their grades at once and just see a straight ol' percentage listed rather than the custom grade scheme score.
I think there was a feature request about this issue someplace last year, but I've lost track of it.
But to address the original title of this thread, there is no rounding, no mention of rounding, just straight math with less than in the grading scheme. The only place I expect (to be ripped off with) rounding is buying gasoline and their tricksy $2.97 99/100 pricing schemes.
Cheers - Shar
I agree, ishar-uw! I do have to report letter grades, but I have my students do all the grading themselves, and it is totally points-based. No percentages. No decimals. As soon as you reach your threshold, you are done for the semester.
The only tricky math I do is to offer students a chart so they can track their progress. Besides setting the admittedly arbitrary numbers for points-per-grade, I am pleased to say I have nothing to do with any of it. I don't put grades on anything, and I don't record anything in the Gradebook. The students record their own points (here's how), and to help them get a sense of their progress, here's the chart I share with them. For the students who worry about their grade, this helps them manage how things are going.
As for me, I just focus on giving them detailed feedback about their writing every week. Feedback-not-grades. 🙂
Grading Chart . Dead Week is a matter of intense controversy at my school. I leave it up to the students whether or not they want to give themselves a Dead Week in my class. To me, it makes no difference one way or the other so, per my usual motto, I say: let the students choose. If they want a Dead Week, they just need to do a little more work each week in order to finish in Week 14 (or earlier if they want; a few of my students are done already now in Week 10). My goal is to encourage students to monitor their progress and make their plans based on their own goals. Most of them want to get an A and to have a Dead Week... but other students have other goals. Speaking for myself, I just want everybody to pass. Beyond that, the grades don't matter to me one way or the other.
Points-based gradebooks *are* a good idea if Canvas supported points-based grading schemes, which as far as I can tell, it does not.
The community college for which I'm an adjunct just adopted Canvas and is already asking faculty members to export their students' required letter grades straight into the school's Records system. So, I would guess that I am soon going to be REQUIRED to use a Canvas grading scheme, which is why I'd like the latter to be a lot more transparent and easy to use than it is currently....
If Canvas supported points-based, I would use a scheme.
But as long as we are forced in Canvas to express points as percentage-out-of (which is not how my course works), then I just record the grades manually in our SIS at the end of the semester.
Since my scheme is very simple, the students know where they stand with the grades; I do like that they can quickly and easily check their total points in Canvas. And I am very glad that blanks are NOT zeroes in Canvas, so my students' total percentage is always, happily, 100%. 🙂
I'm on the hunt for a way to create a custom grading scheme based on points, not percentages; anyone find a way?
(I know it's just a little math to convert, but my team of instructors would find it a lot easier to just deal with points... not to mention it'd be easier for me while troubleshooting issues for them.)
Hi Sharmaine! Would you mind sharing one of your teachers' points-based table along with the Canvas grading scheme you implemented for it? I don't see how you can convert from a points-based grading table to a Canvas percentage-only grading scheme, but I'm willing to be convinced!
When I used a points based system, the points needed were found by starting off with a percentage (89.5, 79.5, 69.5, ...) and converting it into points, so you may find that many faculty already know what percentages they want to use.
Here's what it could look like going the other way. Assume that you have 700 points possible, and you've decided that you need 650 for an A, 600 for a B, 550 for a C, and 500 for a D. You don't need any points for an F.
The % Needed column was found by dividing the points needed by the total points 700.
What you need to put into Canvas is the lowest percent possible, and since Canvas takes 2 decimal places, I round those down to 2 decimal places.
The Points column at the end is if you re-multiply to see how many points a person could get. So a person with 649.95 points could get an A, but it's unlikely that a point-based system will be giving someone that 0.95 points, so 649 doesn't reach the threshold and would be a B.
Now, the important piece in there is ROUND DOWN to 2 decimal places.
If you look at the D, it needs 71.42857% and if you round that using normal rules, you would get 71.43%. But 71.43% of 700 is 500.01, so getting a 500 points would be an F.
Excel has =ROUNDUP() and =ROUNDDOWN() functions to help. They either round up or round down to the number of decimal places given in the formula.
Here's what my formulas looked like.
The numbers in the % Needed column were actually given as proportions (0.9285714 instead of 92.865714) and displayed as percentages. That means to round to 2 decimals places as a percent, I need 4 decimals as a proportion, and that's why I used the 4 with the number of decimals on the round down command
If you manually adjusted for percents, so you had the number 92.865714, you could rounddown to 2 decimal places.
Hello @maypumphreymary , see James's post! He's got the excel formulas and everything right there, and that's what I've been doing to convert the points-based gradebook from instructors into Canvas Percentage Grading Schemes. :smileygrin:
Cheers - Shar
Incidentally, my Canvas Android app reports the All grades view using the grading scheme. So, it can be done. :smileygrin:
The A Princess Nell is from a gamified course that uses custom names for the grades along with a letter. But you can see I'm getting 2.7 in a couple of courses and looking at the straight percents I would not have known off the top of my head.
Grading schemes for the win!
Cheers - Shar
Unfortunately, that doesn't work for a points-based scheme which is also all about the students' free choices. I have what you could say are "50 points per week" ... but I don't even remotely expect students to do all 50 points. Not even close. In D2L, I could classify 30 points as "required" and 20 points as "extra credit" (but even that was misleading... since it really is up to the students what they do each week).
In any case, converting my points to a percentage "out of" system is unworkable. If Canvas let us define our schemes based on point ranges instead of percent-out-of, then I would use a scheme. But I am not going to do percent-out-of, marking all my students un-done assignments as zeroes ... because they are not zeroes. Those blanks in the Gradebook are choices, not zeroes. And the students are choosing what they want to do.
I really like that blanks are not zeroes in Canvas. As a result, my students' percentages are always 100%. And their grade is based on how much work they choose to complete. More on blanks and zeroes:
I agree Laura, your grading policy is very unique--always 100% and blanks are not zeros. And I've explained it to a few folks around here who have been intrigued by the possibilities/options but then ultimately were required by department or program policy to do grading the regular way with a set total number of points/assignments that students would complete.
Actually now that I think about it, we have one course with variable credits, where students have to decide when they register for the course how many credits they will be taking the course for. Then there are more assignments for the students who are taking the course for more credits but everyone ends up with 400 points of assignments. So the grading scheme based out of 400 total and the percents that follow for each GPA grade. The students are divided into sections, and the assignments assigned to different sections (or everyone) but each student only sees the 400 points of assignments they have to do for their credit option.
The other thing I've done in a course where students can choose which assignments, is to have a limited number assignment drop buckets. The students have to write 4 essays and 1 final project, but they get to choose which essays from a selection of 9. This is also the gamified course, so from the moment they enter, they have 0's in all their assignment buckets to start with and then are building up their score from there. And there are opportunities for extra points through smaller activities, so it's grading by addition rather than grading by attrition see https://community.canvaslms.com/message/34031-modify-canvas-to-use-experience-points-canvas-course I still had to figure out the max possible points given the limited number of assignment opportunities and convert to percents to plug into the custom grading scheme.
Cheers - Shar
Here's what's great, ishar-uw... I don't need a scheme. My students are perfectly happy to look at their total points (that's what they see in the Gradebook, plus a reassuring 100%), and since they have a number in mind they want to reach, they don't need Canvas to remind them. You can read what the students say about the grading here; they are totally cool with it: Anatomy of an Online Course: Grading: What Students Say ... I've been doing this for many years.
Sure, I have to enter the grades in the SIS manually at the end of the semester, but that's okay. It takes me 15 minutes. Not the end of the world. But if my school ever requires me to use a Canvas scheme, then you will see me put up a big fuss. I am certainly not going to enter literally THOUSANDS of zeroes in all those blanks.
If Canvas did allow a TRUE points-based system (and not points-as-percentage-out-of) I would use it, and I think others would probably find a use for that also.
But it's not a big deal to me. What's important to me is how I work with the students so that they can be motivated and keep on learning. I wish the LMS were more helpful with that, sure, but the LMS is way more about S and M (yes, pun intended) than it is about L. And that's okay. I have plenty of other tools in my toolkit. 🙂
It seems like, given all the discussion here, one potential "solution" is to provide a series of preferences for instructors in the course. These could include the following:
I'm sure there are others that might be helpful...
I'll also add one additional confusing point here. Because the grading scales are < and not "less than equal to", when you enter a letter grade on an assignment (this does not apply to the final grade), then the numeric equivalent is one whole point below the cutoff. So, if <96.5 = A-, and the instructor enters A- in the score, it will be converted to 95.5 in the calculation. It seems like this could be a setting at the course level as well.
Hi Caryn, Yes, these customization settings would be very useful. Does anyone know if there happen to have been updates to these topics since 2017?
We just started using Canvas and our nursing department has a grade rounding policy so we HAVE to round up grades. People on this thread have gotten very philosophical about the topic but whether I agree or disagree with the issue of rounding grades is moot because that's the policy. I have yet to find an answer to this question. I have the exact same issue with the grading scheme in Canvas and that workaround of using .5s is fine but it's tedious. We should be able to create a grading scheme that will round up and match what our institutional policies are.