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Student Activity: Understanding Weighted Gradebook

Community Coach
Community Coach
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Students often have difficulty understanding weighted (percentage based) gradebooks and how their grades are calculated. Luckily Canvas has "What-if" grades to help students better understand how their grades on different assignments impact their grades - How do I approximate my assignment scores using the What-If Grades feature? Yet, students still don't appear to understand that grades on some assignments count more than grades on other assignments or that zero's on assignments are way worse than a low grade. To help students understand these concepts I've put together a quick and easy student activity that can be easily customized to any course or student grade level.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will learn that assignment grades in different assignment groups count differently towards their overall course grade.
  • Students will learn how much a zero on an assignment can impact their overall course grade.
  • Students will learn how to use the Canvas "What-if" tool

Assignment Information

The timing of this assignment is important in that the earlier students understand how their assignment grades impact their overall course grade the more likely they are to pay attention to the grades they are getting on different assignments and (hopefully) do better overall in the course.

To make it easy to use and integrate into Canvas I have created a Google Doc for the Assignment - Understanding your Course Grade. If you are logged into your own Google account you can save this document (File > Make a Copy) and then edit it as needed for your own course/students. You can then turn this into an assignment that students can fill out online using the following directions - How do I create a cloud assignment with a Google Drive file? 

To better help Instructors understand the rationale for the different questions (which will then help when personalizing it) I've created the following video walk through of the assignment.

Understanding your course grade



This is a great resource! Any chance you could edit the auto-generated captions on the accompanying video (adding proper punctuation and double-checking word recognition) so it could be used by hearing impaired instructors?



Community Coach
Community Coach

Helen, thank you for bringing the lack of accessibility to my attention. Right now is a crazy time of year, actually it’s just been a crazy semester, but I’ll see if I can get my co-worker to work on that this week. I’ll update once it’s finished.