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Multiple Weighted Average Grading Schemes

Multiple Weighted Average Grading Schemes

Currently Canvas will only allow one weight scheme for assignment groups. We would like the option to have more than one weight scheme for the course and therefore more than one "Total" column in the gradebook. The option for 2 or 3 different schemes would be nice.

For instance, many of my colleagues and I allow students to use the final exam to replace the lowest midterm ONLY if it is advantageous to the student. So there are two schemes for these course: 1. All exams are included 2. The worst midterm exam is dropped and the final exam replaces its weight. And the students ultimate course grade is the better of the two. This would requiring allowing different weights for the assignment groups and different rules for the assignment within the groups but also display both options under grades.

Right now, there is no way to do this in Canvas (although I have seen it in some other LMSs) and we have to calculate grades for the second scheme outside of Canvas. Additionally students are not able to view their running grade total under grades in Canvas for both schemes; only one of the schemes can be displayed so I personally choose the one that is beneficial to most of the students some of my colleagues do not use the Canvas gradebook at all and only use Excel, for example, because of this limitation.  

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6 Comments
Community Member

Hi, evm@usf.edu. Would you mind sharing the full specifics of both weighted assignment group setups for the 2 scenarios mentioned? I'm curious if this could be accomplished with the ability to differentiate assignments and mark certain assignments as excused but I need a little more information to think through both scenarios.

Community Member

Certainly, below is the excerpt from my syllabus. Ideally, I would like students to be able to track their grade under both schemes and use the "what if" feature (particularly they use before finals) to see how their grade will be impacted under the two schemes. Or if they cannot use the what-if feature under grades if they could at least always be able to view their grade under both schemes then that would be good as well.

Assessment

Percent of Final Grade

Homework

Quizzes

Participation

5%

5%

10%

GenEd Assignments*

20%

Within Semester Exams

35%

Final Exam

25%

 

100%

Each student’s course score will be calculated two ways, and the higher of the two will be used as the final score. The first method is outlined above. In the second method, the lower in-semester exam grade will be dropped and the final exam grade will count for 42.5%. Under both methods participation will count for 10% and homework/quizzes 5% each.

Community Member

Also.... I give 2 within semester exams so the weight under the second scheme is 17.5 for the highest midterm  exam, lowest midterm is dropped, and final exam is 42.5%

Community Member

Thanks. With that additional information, I was able to rule out the idea I had in mind. I didn't see another idea for this open for voting so I will move this one forward.

Navigator

evm@usf.edu 

Right now, there is no way to do this in Canvas (although I have seen it in some other LMSs) and we have to calculate grades for the second scheme outside of Canvas. Additionally students are not able to view their running grade total under grades in Canvas for both schemes

This assertion (other than you might have seen it in another LMS) is not true for the scenario you described.

It's actually fairly easy to get Canvas to do this if the midterm exams are worth the same number of points, although there is a little more work on the teacher's part.

What you can do do is create a third assignment, called "Final Exam Option", or something (but not the same name as the other Final Exam) in your "within semester exam" assignment group. Make the submission type "no submission" or "on paper". Add a rule to drop the lowest grade in the within semester exams assignment group.

Once the final exam has been graded, duplicate the scaled score on the final exam as that third grade. By scaled score, I mean so it counts the same as the other midterm exams. If your final is worth a different amount of points (there is no requirement to do this since you're using weighted assignment groups), you would need to scale it to be the same as the other two exams.

Here's what happens when you do this.

  • Sofia scores 75 and 60 on the midterm exams and 50 on the final. Of the three grades in the assignment group, 50 (the final) is the lowest and so Canvas only uses the 75 and 60 for that group. The final is still counted in its separate assignment group. The final does not replace the lowest midterm.
  • Tomas scores 75 and 60 on the midterm exams and 70 on the final. Of the three grades in the assignment group, 60 (one of the midterm exams) is the lowest and so Canvas drops the lowest midterm and replaces it with the final. The final still counts in its separate assignment group. The final replaces the lowest midterm.

If you have large classes, you can export the grades into Excel, copy them (or scale them if needed) into the third assignment in the midterms assignment group, and then import them back into Canvas.

Because the rule to drop the lowest grade will impact the grade and drop it before it should be dropped you should compensate for that early on. You could go ahead and put the lowest of the two midterm exams in that third column after the second midterm, but I would recommend putting a 0 in for the third grade as soon as the assignment is created and the rule is added. That 0 will force Canvas to keep the other grades until there is actually something for the final.

For students, tell them when they are playing with the "What if" grades that they should enter their final exam score into both assignments.

You do not want two grading schemes for your situation. That is overly complicated for the students and some will rightfully argue they were confused. I've seen some people request it for classes where graduate and undergraduate students are taught in the same course and the university has different requirements. 

Avoiding the Canvas gradebook is bad for the students. Keeping the grades in Excel robs the students of knowing where their at in the course and it might also prevent any early alert software your university system is using from doing its job.

Community Member

Thanks for the work around! I would still say the assertion is true, Canvas does not allow two different weighted assignment schemes in the gradebook, because it doesn't. But this is definitely a good way around for what I use it for with this particular course.  

I do not agree with the assertion that avoiding the Canvas gradebook is bad for students. As long as they are able to  view their grades in some platform - such as a shared Google sheet where they can view only - the students are not robbed of knowing where they are in the course and early alerts can still be provided. I have found that it works just as well and is good for students. I have also used a two grading scheme option in Blackboard and never once had a student even mention it was confusing let alone argue and had many mention it was easy to understand their grade, and I get about 1000 students a year. I can't speak for other instructors but I don't have reason to believe it would be confusing in my case. I think it is unfortunate that you had experiences with students actually arguing with the instructor about confusion.

But I definitely think having everything all in one place is ideal. I will certainly try your suggestion and see how it goes in the fall. Thanks again!