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Disable "What If" Feature

Disable "What If" Feature

As helpful as the "what if" feature can be, many students become obsessed with their grade as they create hypothetical situations that lead to "grade grubbing".  We all know too well the "I needed a 92 on the project to have an A and I was only one point away so is there anything I can do?" situation with a student.  

I propose that teachers have the capability of disabling this feature.

#mhs

Comments from Instructure

Thank you for your thoughts and participation around this request. It is never fun to hear about cheating or ways in which individuals abuse trust. We feel that the intended use of this feature is extremely valuable and continue to hear so from students. At this time we are not planning on removing or disabling “what if” functionality within Canvas.

This has been a good conversation, and the conversation can continue, but we will now close this idea for voting. It will remain in the Canvas Studio space, so there will not be a need for resubmission or re-vote of this idea. It has been considered and we have given an official response, even if it is not the one you were hoping for. Thank You.

115 Comments
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi lindsay.henry@msdk12.net‌:

I want my students engaged in their grades (grubbing), because they earn those grades by demonstrating achievement of my course learning outcomes. Any tool that encourages this works for me.

While I think grade-obsession can potentially be unhealthy, most of us use grades to measure learning. I hope that most of us apply our grading strategies objectively through the use of grading criteria, and that our grading criteria is clearly communicated to our students. I also hope that most of us use assessment strategies that accurately measure student achievement of our stated learning outcomes. When our criteria is objective and communicated, when our assessments are well aligned with our learning outcomes, and learning materials and activities; then students know what they need to do to achieve the level of mastery they need. They think of mastery in terms of grades - right or wrong, that is what we have taught them their entire academic career, and I am not going to enter that ongoing debate in this post.

By being able to visualize that they need to score at a certain level on future graded activities and assessments in order to achieve their desired grade, then students become more engaged in the learning outcomes, the learning materials and activities, posted due dates, study guides, study habits and meta-cognition etc. In other words, they become better learners, and develop habits that can move them past their dependence on grades as their only personal measure of learning.

My $0.02 worth.

Kelley

Community Member

Hi lindsay.henry@msdk12.net‌, and thanks for adding this feature request! I'm a card-carrying member of the #TTOG movement (teachers throwing out grades), and I've collected a lot of materials on the dangers of grading, along with info about how I stopped grading here: 

Un-Grading: An Omnibus 

My sense is that this is a huge problem, one without a simple technology fix. Just disabling the "What if" feature will not necessarily change students' attitudes. If anything, it could make things worse. As Kelley points out, the "what if?" feature can be empowering in some ways for students, even though grading is, in and of itself, disempowering. 

So, I voted yes because I think teachers should have more control over features being turned on and off in Canvas as a general rule, but I would argue that the real work we have to do on students and grading is way way way bigger than Canvas and goes to the heart of our teaching philosophy, course design, etc.

For me, the best thing in terms of starting a different kind of dialogue with students is using growth mindset. That approach gives them a different vocabulary to use for discussing academic work: growth, not grades. I've created an open Canvas course space with my growth mindset materials in case they might be useful to others!

Exploring Growth Mindset

Surveyor II

I understand your perspective. I'm simply asking that teachers have the choice - at their discretion - to disable the function.

Sent from my iPhone

Community Coach
Community Coach

Haven't students technically been doing this since the dawn of grades? Heck, I was one of those grade grubbing students (always wanted every last point) and basically did the what-if grade thing on my own using paper and pencil. The biggest thing what-if grades does is eliminate the paper and pencil.

And... as a teacher and an administrator (putting on those hats), I think it's really important that students are aware of their grade and what they need to do to get the grade they want. That helps them make informed decisions about what they need to do (or not do) to get the grade they want in the course. If they understand their grade and the impact individual assignment grades have on their overall course grade they might better understand the importance of certain assignments over other assignments. Or that they need to go get help from the teacher or get tutoring ASAP. Or that they need to drop the course. The point is, the better informed students are about their grade and how their grade is calculated the better off they are in the long run. 

Surveyor II

Completely agree. Maybe the feature can be enabled for teachers instead of students so that teachers can engage in dialogue with students and propose scenarios with them to help guide them towards this ideal mindset.

The issue is such a large cultural one when it comes to grade obsession and disabling this feature won't solve the bigger issue. Hopefully, it can a step in that direction as students can be grade conscious without being grade obsessed.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Community Coach
Community Coach

I really like the idea of Instructors having access to the what-if feature for students. As it is I have to go into Beta or the Test environment of Canvas to play around with grades to see what a student needs to pass the course or to get a certain grade. 

And yes, grade obsessed isn't cool. Grade aware is awesome! 🙂

Surveyor II

Debating the merits of the "what if" feature isn't the point. The objective is to give teachers the choice. If you like it, enable it. If you don't, then disable it.

Sent from my iPhone

Community Team
Community Team

lindsay.henry@msdk12.net, if you're interested in seeing the what-if feature available for instructors, please add your feedback and vote to https://community.canvaslms.com/ideas/5185-what-if-grading-for-instructors : it's open for voting, and the date header with old dates on it simply indicates the period in which it was originally put up for vote before being reinstated in March 2017 as part of our revamped ideation process.

Community Advocate
Community Advocate

TOTALLY agree with you, Kona.  As long as education has a grading system, students are going to obsess about them.  Lindsay, have you tried simply disabling the GRADES menu item altogether in Canvas since you feel that strongly about it?  Students would still see grades by heading to the individual assignment details (and from the Assignments landing page), but I believe that essentially turns off the "What-If" capability.  But, like Kona and others, I make a point of telling all of my own students about this capability, and they love it.

Surveyor II

Great - thank you!