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Do points matter if you are using weighted assignment groups?

I realize this is kind of a dumb question, but I have not been able to find an answer.

I am using weighted assignment groups, and everything is graded as either complete/incomplete or with my own grading scheme (pass/needs revision/missing).

What I can't figure out is: under these conditions, does it matter how many points I make an assignment? Would it make sense to just make everything worth the same number of points and let the weighting sort it out? Or is that going to have some weird effect on the final grade?

I've never used points for grading in my pre-LMS life, and I have t rouble trying to understand what points are supposed to represent. Hence my frustration with Canvas!

Solved! Go to Solution.

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Yes, points matter. Let's say that you have a ten-week course, and one of your Assignment Groups is "Weekly Quizzes." Most likely, you would want each weekly quiz to have the same level of importance (e.g. 10 quizzes at 10 points each). However, let's say, that you want to emphasize the quizzes given during the second half of the course. Then you might do this instead (5 quizzes at 5 points each; 5 quizzes at 15 points each). In both scenarios, you've doled out 100 points for that Assignment Group.

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I like to think of the assignment groups as gradebooks within gradebooks, and using weighted grades means your course total points is 1 (or 100%).

So, for example, in your situation if the student got 90/100 for dialogues, that is 90%. 90% of 40 is 36. That's .36 points towards the final grade.

If a student got 150/300, 50% of Creative projects, 50% of 25 is 12.5, so that is .125 points towards the final grade.

.125+.36 = .485 towards the final grade.

So to answer your question, "what is the difference than if the assignments in both groups added up to 100 points?" the only difference is you've chosen to group those assignments to make them add up to a percentage of their final grade.

Most folks who use weighted grades use it to ensure that different types of assignments effect (weigh) differently to effect the final grade. For example, in higher ed. we often want assessments to weigh much more than home work or assignments. So if I would make assessments weigh 80% and homework 20%, I'm guaranteed that no matter how many points are given for homework, it will only be worth 20% of the final grade. So, if a student did no homework assignments in the course, the best they could ever get in the course, assuming they received perfect scores on the assessments, would be an 80%.

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Exactly right, the number of points in each category is irrelevant. Student might be able to earn up to 50 points in "Thought Experiments" and 200 points in their "Creative Project." Since both Assignment Groups are worth 25% of the students' final grade, a student would get 80% for a score of 40 points in "Thought Experiments" and 80% for a score of 160 points on the Creative Project.

I award points to my students for individual assignments and quizzes, but I remind them that not all points are equal in terms of their final grades.

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Yes, points matter. Let's say that you have a ten-week course, and one of your Assignment Groups is "Weekly Quizzes." Most likely, you would want each weekly quiz to have the same level of importance (e.g. 10 quizzes at 10 points each). However, let's say, that you want to emphasize the quizzes given during the second half of the course. Then you might do this instead (5 quizzes at 5 points each; 5 quizzes at 15 points each). In both scenarios, you've doled out 100 points for that Assignment Group.

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Thank you! I do understand that points would matter to make some assignments WITHIN a group count more than others. I should have phrased my question differently. What I mean is, what affect do the points of each group have on the final grade? If the groups are weighted by percentage, does it matter if one group has more points than another?

For example, I have 4 groups:

Thought Experiments=25%

Creative Project=25%

Dialogues=40%

Collaborations=10%

So what I am confused about is: What difference do the points of the assignments make to how each group would be counted toward the final grade? If one group is worth 40% but the assignments add up to 100 points, and another assignment is worth 25% but the assignments add up to 300 points, what is the difference than if the assignments in both groups added up to 100 points?

Thank you!

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I like to think of the assignment groups as gradebooks within gradebooks, and using weighted grades means your course total points is 1 (or 100%).

So, for example, in your situation if the student got 90/100 for dialogues, that is 90%. 90% of 40 is 36. That's .36 points towards the final grade.

If a student got 150/300, 50% of Creative projects, 50% of 25 is 12.5, so that is .125 points towards the final grade.

.125+.36 = .485 towards the final grade.

So to answer your question, "what is the difference than if the assignments in both groups added up to 100 points?" the only difference is you've chosen to group those assignments to make them add up to a percentage of their final grade.

Most folks who use weighted grades use it to ensure that different types of assignments effect (weigh) differently to effect the final grade. For example, in higher ed. we often want assessments to weigh much more than home work or assignments. So if I would make assessments weigh 80% and homework 20%, I'm guaranteed that no matter how many points are given for homework, it will only be worth 20% of the final grade. So, if a student did no homework assignments in the course, the best they could ever get in the course, assuming they received perfect scores on the assessments, would be an 80%.

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Thank you! This is very helpful.

I make major assignments worth more too; but I'm teaching a fully online (asynchronous) class for the first time and am trying to use the discussion forums ( which I call "Dialogues" in an homage to Plato) in a similar way to classroom discussions. Normally I wouldn't give 40% of the final grade to what is more or less a participation grade! But posting in the discussion forums seems like a lot more work than participating in in-person discussions. And it's a writing-intensive class, so I'm counting those as writing assignments as well as participation.

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You're welcome.

I agree that online discussions can be more work for students than in class discussions. People forget that, in-class, teachers generally don't require every student to respond to every discussion question and/or respond to other students comments. (How could you even manage tracking that?) Online discussions are much more work if done well. It sounds like you have an interesting class.

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I just wanted to say I agree. Another English professor here and I don't use points, I don't like points, I don't want points, and I deeply resent the prescriptive and limited structure Canvas forces us into for grading. It's very frustrating.

While it is possible to "translate" anything into numbers and then back again, it's yet another stupid, stupid, wasteful example of the tail wagging the dog to force us to do so.

Ugh.

--JT

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Exactly right, the number of points in each category is irrelevant. Student might be able to earn up to 50 points in "Thought Experiments" and 200 points in their "Creative Project." Since both Assignment Groups are worth 25% of the students' final grade, a student would get 80% for a score of 40 points in "Thought Experiments" and 80% for a score of 160 points on the Creative Project.

I award points to my students for individual assignments and quizzes, but I remind them that not all points are equal in terms of their final grades.

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OK, that makes sense. Thank you very much for clarifying! The math aspect of grading has always been a mystery to me...which is why I guess I'm a Lit professor and not a math professor!

Canvas grading makes it easier in some ways, but more difficult in others. I do contract grading, so I would prefer not to use points at all! But it seems there is no way to do this in Canvas---everything has to have a numeric value, even if using "Complete/Incomplete" or creating my own grading scheme.