Step 2: Understanding Grade Book Terminology

Now that we know how to navigate the grade book, it’s time to build your grading structure.  Take a look at your syllabus – how do you break down student grades? Weighted categories such as participation, homework, tests, labs, etc.?  Total points?  Scores weighted by their maximum value?  Having your grading policy laid out in front of you will make setting up your grade book easier.

As we learned in the Navigating the Grade Book page, setting up your grade book is accomplished through the grade book navigation drop-down menu.  Let’s go to the “Categories and Items” page.

If you have yet to work on this grade book, your page will look like the image below:


Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 1.51.17 PM


You will see one category (next to the folder icon) that corresponds to the title of your course.  This is the top most level of your grade book structure and will help us define how grades are calculated.  More to come on this.

Before we begin to build your grade book, let’s define some terms that are essential to understand when working on the grade book.

Categories – Categories are essentially folders that are used to house grade items within a course.  If your grading structure includes items such as participation, homework, tests, labs, etc., these are considered categories.  In order to properly place grade items, we first need to create the categories into which they fall.  Notice the top level course “category” in your grade book – this is there so we have a place to house all of our work categories and grade items.

Grade Items – Grade items are the actual assignments or activities that require grading.  If you assign a homework, this is considered a grade item, as is a test or lab report.  Basically, anything that is assigned a grade is considered a grade item.  Grade items are placed within their appropriate category.  There are two types of grade items in Moodle: 1. manual items – created by you to enter scores for work done outside of Moodle (class work) and 2. activity items – grade items auto-generated by Moodle-based activities completed by students (Moodle-based quizzes, forums, assignment submissions, etc.)

Aggregation – Aggregation is the mathematical formula by which Moodle will calculate grades.  There are several aggregation options, and understanding how each one crunches the numbers is very important.  Let’s look at the four most used aggregation methods and how each one calculates scores:

Mean of Grades:  The sum of all grades divided by the total number of grades.  There is no weighting done – everything is worth the same and is simply averaged.

   A1 70/100, A2 20/80, A3 10/10, category max 100:
   (0.7 + 0.25 + 1.0)/3 = 0.65 --> 65/100

Weighted Mean of Grades:  Each grade item can be given a weight, which is then applied to calculate the category total.  In simple terms, the category “total” will be equal to the sum of the scores in each grade item, these scores being multiplied by the grade items’ weights, and that sum being finally divided by the sum of the weights, as shown in this example.

   A1 70/100 weight 10, A2 20/80 weight 5, A3 10/10 weight 3, 
   category max 100:
   (0.7*10 + 0.25*5 + 1.0*3)/18 = 0.625 --> 62.5/100

Simple Weighted Mean of Grades:  The difference from Weighted Mean of Grades is that weights are determined by the maximum grade for each item.  A 100 point assignment has a weight of 100, where a 10 point assignment has a weight of 10.  This method uses the highest maximum score as the benchmark for determining weights within a category.

   A1 70/100, A2 20/80, A3 10/10, category max 100:
   (0.7*100 + 0.25*80 + 1.0*10)/190 = 0.526 --> 52.6/100

Natural:  The sum of all grade values. Scale grades are ignored. This is the only type that does not convert the grades to percentages internally. The Maximum grade of associated category item is calculated automatically as a sum of maximums from all aggregated items.  *NOTE  – this  is exactly the same as simple weighted mean of gradeswith the exception that sum of grades willnot show a grade based on what has been completed.  For example, if your course has 1000 total points possible, but you have only assigned 100, a student’s score will still be shown based on the 1000 possible.  So, if a student has scored a perfect 100/100 up to this point, his total course score is shown as a 100/1000 = 10.

   A1 70/100, A2 20/80, A3 10/10:
   70 + 20 + 10 = 100/190

It’s important to note that you will need to select an aggregation method for each category you have in your grade book, and that you can have different aggregation methods for different categories.  We will see how this works shortly.

Now that you are comfortable with the language and have your grading structure in front of you, let’s learn how to add categories and manual grade items.