Are best practices to set 100 total points for a course and then weight according to assignments/discussions/etc.?
I really can't say what is best practice but from experience can tell you that in higher ed, almost every faculty member I speak with had a different method of grading.
I personally don't worry about points and find percentages much easier to deal with and for students to get an accurate representation of their current grade. If a student sees that they currently have 34 points out of 100, that doesn't help tell them their current status because you also need to know many points are possible right now. 34/100 is a bad grade. But if there have only been 40 points so far, that is an 85% which I can compare to the grading scheme to see it's a B.
So I'd say don't worry about how many total points there are but do use points on assignments to adjust relative weights. If you want a paper to be weighted the same as a quiz, then make them both worth the same point value. If you want Exams (all of them) to be 50% of the overall grade, use Assignment Groups to organize and set your Exams Assignment Group weight to 50%. Lots of options, but remember that percentages will help show students their current grade in the course.
Hello, Walker Ladd and Welcome to the Canvas Community! I concur with Rick; I'm not aware of a best practice surrounding course grading schemes.
When I was teaching, I came up with an approach that I found most students would understand quickly. I've never used a points-based gradebook. Instead, I created every graded activity—assignments, quizzes, discussions—so that it was worth 100 points. I placed the activities into weighted assignment groups according to the grading scheme I provided in the course syllabus. 100 points at a quick glance mimics a percentage, making it easy for students to understand their grade on an assignment. Grading assignment submissions promptly, as well as remembering to enter zeros for students who had not submitted the assignment, meant that students were always able to see their accurate current grade on their Grades tab.
I'd use weighted assignment groups to give larger projects more relative weight in the overall course grade. For example, the course had several long-form essays, and I put each one into its own assignment group (e.g. the first essay might contribute 7%, the second 10%, and the third 15%—each a different assignment group containing a single 100-point assignment).
So this works fine as long as, for example, you put all of the quizzes into a single assignment group and you want each quiz in the group to contribute equally to the grade for that assignment group. If you don't, you can vary the weights of the activities within an assignment group by varying the points on each assignment, as Rick has mentioned.
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