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Making the Grade in myCourses


The Gradebook tool in myCourses has many powerful options to make managing your class easier. That said,  it can also be one of the more daunting aspects of myCourses. That’s understandable—grades are a high-stakes matter. Here are some tips to help you use the myCourses Gradebook, along with some tricks to ensure that you’ve done everything correctly.

While this blog post is not directly about setting up your gradebook, you can find more information in the IT Knowledgebase (using the Setup Wizard, creating grades items). Setting it up will be another blog post!

Making grades visible to students

myCourses makes it easy for you to disseminate grades for any component of your class. If the grade item is marked as visible, students will be able to see how they performed. In general, it’s a good practice to hide your grade items at first. This is because as you are entering grades, you are able to make any adjustments without alerting your students. Then when you’re sure the grades are ready, you can change the grade item from hidden to visible.

To change the status of a grade item from hidden to visible and vice-versa: in the Gradebook tool:

  1. Click Manage Grades.
  2. Click Edit Grade Item in the drop-down menu next to a specific grade item.
  3. In the Restrictions tab, you are able to change the visibility settings; options include Hide this grade item and Grade item is always visible.

When a grade item is hidden, you’ll see a closed eyelid next to the grade item. In the example below, the Midterm Exam and Participation grades will be hidden from students.

Eyelid

It is possible to verify from your end what students see when they go to check their grades. In the Gradebook, click on a student’s name. At the top of the new page that appears, click on the drop-down menu next to their name, and click Preview. The view that appears is exactly what the student sees. If the grades are not appearing as you would like them to, you can adjust your grade item restrictions and/or your display settings.

Encourage students to sign up for notifications so that they are alerted via email or text when their grades are updated.

Calculated versus adjusted final grades

The rightmost columns in your spreadsheet are the Calculated Final Grade and the Adjusted Final Grade (provided that you haven’t disabled it while completing the Setup Wizard). The Calculated Final Grade calculates students’ final grades based on the weights you have assigned to the grade items in your gradebook. The Adjusted Final Grade allows you to make changes to the calculated final grade; for example, if the student is between two grades and you believe that they deserve to be bumped up, you can make the adjustment in the Adjusted Final Grade column. Note that myCourses will not allow you to make any changes to the Calculated Final Grade.

Transfer all

To transfer the Calculated Final Grades to the Adjusted Final Grades column, click on the drop-down menu next to Adjusted Final Grade and click Grade All. When the new page appears, click on the drop-down menu next to Final Grades and click Transfer All. You can also transfer the grades one-by-one.

Final adjusted

Here you have several options to adjust students’ grades. After the grades have been transferred, you are able to adjust the numerator and/or denominator of students’ grades. If you click on the Calculator button as in the screenshot above, you are also able to choose which grade items to include in the calculation for a students’ final adjusted grade. By clicking on the speech bubble in the Feedback column, you are able to provide a personalized note to students that they will see when they check their grades, provided you have released the grade to students.

When you have finalized your grades, you can then release the final adjusted grades to students by clicking on the drop-down menu next to Final Grades at the top of the page and clicking Release All. Please note, though, that the grades in myCourses are considered “unofficial”; grades must be submitted to Minerva, which brings me to my next point…

Exporting to Minerva

myCourses makes it very easy to submit transfer your final grades to Minerva. There is an Export to Minerva wizard available in the Gradebook tool. Instructions are available here; our friends at IT Services made a video to guide you through the process, too.

Sorting, Filtering, and Statistics

By default, the Gradebook will sort the gradebook by students’ first names. You can change this by clicking on the Last Name field at the top of the Gradebook so that it sorts by students’ last names. You can also sort the gradebook from highest-to-lowest or lowest-to-highest grade based on individual grade items; simply click on the title of a grade item column in your gradebook to sort this way.

You can also filter the Gradebook by Groups (if you use the Groups tool) and/or by Section (if the course is crosslisted). At the top of the Gradebook, change the settings from View By: User to View By: Group, select the Group you would like to see, and click Apply. This can be particularly handy for courses in which Teaching Assistants are responsible for grading certain groups of students. In this case, they are able to focus on only the students for whom they are responsible.

Statistics

Once you have entered grades in your Gradebook, you can get statistics for the individual grade items as well as the Final Calculated Grade and the Final Adjusted Grade. Click on the drop-down menu next to the grade item and click Statistics. Here you can see the minimum grade, maximum grade, average, mode, median, standard deviation, and grade distribution.

You can also filter the statistics by Section and/or by Group. For example: if you teach a cross-listed course consisting of undergraduates and graduates, you could use View By: Section to see the statistical differences between the undergraduate and graduate students. Or, if you have Groups organized by Teaching Assistant, as in the example above, you could use View By: Group to verify grading consistency.

Stats

“Grade All”

Looking at the entire Gradebook spreadsheet can be overwhelming, especially if you have many grade items. If you click on the drop-down menu next to a grade item and click Grade All, a new page will open that is just that single grade item.

Grade all

You can also use the Grade All tool to provide the same grade to all students in the class without entering it for each student. You can also use Grade All to provide students with personalized feedback on their individual grade, which they can view when they check their Grades in myCourses, provided the grade item is visible to students.

Did you know?

  • When setting up Assignments, Quizzes, or Discussions, you can link the Assignment, Quiz, or Discussion grade with a grade item in your Gradebook. This means that when you give your students a grade on the Assignment, Quiz, or Discussion, the grade you give will transfer directly to the Gradebook—no need to enter the grades twice!
  • myCourses can and will do all the math for you. For example, if you’re grading an assignment out of 46 points but it only counts for 37% of the grade, set the maximum points for the assignment to 46 and the weight to 37%. Then, you can enter students’ grades for the assignment out of 46 in the Gradebook.
  • The Categories option can be useful for managing many assignments. For example, if students can choose to submit 8 out of 10 assignments, you can configure the gradebook such that 2 assignments will be dropped.
  • You can use the gradebook to assign Bonus marks without adjusting individual grade items.

Want to test things out?

You and any Teaching Assistants appear in the gradebook – you can verify your gradebook settings by assigning different grades to yourself and your Teaching Assistants. This gives you a chance to test all possible scenarios without affect the students’ grades. However, you will want to remove these grades if you are looking at grade statistics.

I hope this post helps you feel more comfortable using the Gradebook tool in myCourses. To request a one-on-one consultation or a custom group workshop to learn more about any of the tools available in myCourses, please fill out this form.