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Grades without points

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In the Canvas Community Ideas space, you can share, converse, and rate idea conversations related to software improvements to Canvas products.

Grades without points

I don't know why Canvas insists upon points for grading. Many of us are moving towards grading systems without points or letter grades (standards-based grading or specifications grading). Linda Nilson's book Specifications Grading has popularized a way of grading that does not use cumulative points, but bases the letter grade on the number and type of assignments completed successfully. Please, Canvas, give us a way to record student grades in a non-point format. I use High Pass, Pass, Low Pass, and Not Yet Passing as the grading scheme for my essays, but there is no way to indicate this in my students' gradebook, aside from in the comments section. I have to use an elaborate work-around to give my students a grade update.
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44 Comments
Community Team
Community Team

jhurley@ohlone.edu

Have you considered customizing your course grading scheme?​  You can use your 'pass' structure in place of letters.  You will need to determine a point spread.

There is also a lot of flexibility if you use the Learning Mastery Gradebook?​  I have worked with a group seeking to setup a structure similar to what you define.  They used Outcomes​.  Each outcome they created had 4 success levels (like you describe above).  They did apply a 1-4 point scale to each level - as it is required for the automated calculation.  The outcomes were then placed into rubrics for each assignment.  Instructors then grade using the rubrics.  When the Learning Mastery Gradebook is activated, students see their levels of success rather than points.  Please a little time to explore this functionality and let us know how it works for you.

Community Member

Hi Renee,

I did try this, but I did not want a “point spread.” The whole purpose of my grading scheme is to remove points entirely, so that students stop thinking about their learning in terms of “points.” I wish Canvas allowed me to simply use my system without assigning any points to it.

Jennifer Hurley

Associate Professor of English

Ohlone College - Newark Campus

Community Member

Renee,

Sorry I have been bombarding the system with all of my requests/ideas. I had a whole list I’ve been accumulating, but this issue with the grading is my number one concern. I really hope Canvas can support those of us using point-free grading. I do think this is the wave of the future, and I urge you to check out the book Specifications Grading: http://www.amazon.com/Specifications-Grading-Restoring-Motivating-Students/dp/1620362422/ref=sr_1_1?...

Jennifer Hurley

Associate Professor of English

Ohlone College - Newark Campus

Community Team
Community Team

I'm hoping the school that I worked with will write up a story of their process and the lessons they learned along the way.  I think it will really help!

In the beginning, they too were worried about the points, but they found ways to move the points to the background and get students to focus on the mastery levels.  The points are necessary for the automated calculation.  The rubrics allow you to customize your levels of success, while the points allow Canvas to average (or calculate) the success automatically.  Everyone likes to call their levels of success different things right now, whether it be pass, complete, satisfied, mastered, successful, or something else.  Coding for that level of variety would be near impossible.  Numerically, 4+4 is always 8, and something developers can always count on.

I could be wrong, but I'm not sure that we'll ever be able to move away from some type of points indicator when it comes to creating levels of success or mastery.  I hope my explanation helps?

Adventurer

In case it makes a difference for approving this idea for voting, our institution's faculty have been asking for "letter, word, or symbol grades with no corresponding points shown/tallied" ever since we adopted Canvas.  I supported last year for that reason.

Community Member

Thank you, Rob.

The Canvas support person who contacted me said that there were alternatives to traditional point grading, but all of the alternatives she listed had points attached. No matter what, if any points are listed, that’s what students focus on. We need a true point-free grading system through Canvas. Spread the word.

Jennifer Hurley

Associate Professor of English

Ohlone College - Newark Campus

Community Team
Community Team

Thank you jhurley@ohlone.edu​ and dittor@wharton.upenn.edu​,

Voting on this idea opened this AM.

Thanks,

Scott

Community Member

Rob, Can you vote on this idea and spread the word? Thanks!

Adventurer

Just voted! Yes, I'll spread the word to my Community friends. Also see:

Adventurer

Perhaps a possible way forward is to connect this idea to , where "Display Grade As" allows the instructor/designer to more precisely configure the grade display format for what students see, while instructors/TAs retain the full flexibility and simplicity of the weighted gradebook (optionally just points-based, or optionally with one or more 0%-weighted categories).