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Disable "What If" Feature

Disable "What If" Feature

(1)

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
kmeeusen
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @lindsay_henry ‌:

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

laurakgibbs
Surveyor

Hi  @lindsay_henry ‌, 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

lindsay_henry
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

kona
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. 

lindsay_henry
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!

kona
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! 🙂

lindsay_henry
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

Stefanie
Community Team
Community Team

 @lindsay_henry , 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.

kblack
Community Member

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.

lindsay_henry
Surveyor II

Great - thank you!

lindsay_henry
Surveyor II

As a school, we have a uniform menu for the students to navigate, so turning off the "Grades" menu wouldn't be an option.  Many students do love the feature and some of them use it the way we would hope they would (to make informed decisions, be more aware of their performance, etc.) but many of them don't.  And you're right, kids will always be obsessed with grades as long as they feel the pressure to perform at a high-level, but the concern amongst myself and some of my colleagues is that the "what if" feature can enable kids to be more grade-obsessed than they would prior to the tool. Knowing their grade and how it's calculated is without a doubt essential to a student's ability to monitor their progress and stay on top of their assignments but the "what if" feature isn't necessary to help kids be grade-aware and proactive about their performance in class.  If teachers and students love it, then a teacher can enable it and continue doing what they're doing.  But for some teachers, this function fuels the grade-obsessiveness and they'd like to have the ability to disable it if they feel it will help.  As I mentioned earlier, I'm not debating the merit of "what if"... I'm simply advocating that teachers have more choice when it comes to these features. 

kblack
Community Member

Understood, Lindsay.  I'm also a Canvas administrator, so admittedly I use it as a way to help convince faculty to a.) use Canvas, and b.) be transparent with grades.  And I'm usually all for faculty being in control of their classes, believe me.  (Most recently, the "Missing" and/or "Late" icons that are now appearing in student gradebooks and causing a certain degree of consternation I would love to have as something that faculty could choose to turn on or off.)

But since you mention that this is applicable for your entire school, I wonder if there were custom programming that could be done after talking to your Customer Success Manager at Canvas?  They can do a certain amount of customization at the institutional level.  (At a price, mind you, but I believe depending on what it is it may be able to be done.)

snugent
Lamplighter II

 @lindsay_henry ‌

I do think faculty should have better controls over this feature so I will agree with you on that. I believe you can sort of disable this feature when you hide the total column. Students can still enter what if scores but they can't see the total so it pretty much makes the feature disabled. I am sure some faculty would still want students to see the total so this may not be the option to try. One of my biggest concerns with the grades page for students is the toggle button between only graded and all. This feature tends to confuse students. 

How do I hide totals in my students' grade summaries?

scottdennis
Community Team
Community Team

I don't have a comment on this feature idea, per say, but I did want to address, "I voted yes because I think teachers should have more control over features being turned on and off in Canvas as a general rule..."

Before I left academia and came to work at a software company I was almost always in favor of making features optional because, in general, I am in favor of trusting educators to make the best decisions on how to teach and learn with their students.  Since becoming more familiar with software development and working with people who were present at other companies as other software projects ran from clean and simple to more complicated and in some ways more powerful, my views have moderated.

Every time you make something optional it becomes a fork in the code.  The codebase becomes more complicated.  Processes must be designed to take the option into account (do this unless option is set, then do that).  QA gets more complicated, developers end up spending more time fixing bugs and checking scenarios and by consequence less time developing new features.

Does this mean that this feature necessarily should or should not become an option the teacher can set in Canvas?  I can't and won't say but the complexity vs stability and agility question is one I ask myself every time.

laurakgibbs
Surveyor

I hear you, Scott! I saw much of the same when working for a stint in the IT department at my school. And Project Khaki was so helpful in giving us a sense of how it looks from the engineering point of view.

But I have to add... if I thought it would do any good at all, I'd be advocating here not just for teachers to turn things on and off, but for students to be able to do that too. So the Canvas engineers can consider themselves lucky that I've more or less given up on student-driven LMS ha ha.

Although outside the LMS, oh yeah, the students can be the drivers. I literally just a few minutes ago finished writing up my list of recommended web publishing platforms for their class projects this semester... which also includes the possibility that they will want to use a platform I've never used myself. And if that happens, it means I will get to learn something new too!

We're all learning. 🙂

janetaylor
Community Member

We require students to do a screenshot of grades to show coaches to maintain academic eligibility for sports and some students are using the What If feature to cheat the system. I also agree that students are too focused on points and grades and not on learning.

kellaboatner
Community Member

I have a problem with the what if scores simply because quite a number of student show their parents their "perfect score" and then the parents are confused when I call or email to tell them that their child is failing to turn in work.

Apparently some students seem to think they can simply select the grade they want and not bother to turn in assignments.  This makes for a bad situation for naive students and bad PR for us. 

sarah_boutin
Community Member

At the least please give teachers a disable option for this so students don't misuse it to show parents they already did the assignment when it's actually still missing. Thank you!

amber_batten
Surveyor

Kella,

This is a good reason for parents to use the Parent Canvas App.  Then, they can see the real grades.  However, I understand getting them to use it is a huge feat in itself.  Thank you for voting.

amber_batten
Surveyor

Yes!  Exactly.  Having the option to enable/disable would be very beneficial for all involved.  Thank you for voting!