How Grading Works
Grading in Moodle is a combination of a set of graded activities and a place - the gradebook - where those activity grades are reported. This is an important point. Understand that the choices you make in setting up your activities in your Course Outline have an impact on how and where those activity grades appear in the gradebook. The grade book is flexible; you can use it as a stand-alone grade database (as in a f2f class), you can use it as a place to report activity grades (as in an online class), or you can have a grade book that is a combination (as in a hybrid class).
Let's start with the basic grading workflow for an online class:
What Types of Activities Can Be Graded?
Anything that a student submits for a class can have a grade, but only certain types of activities in Moodle will report a grade to the grade book. In these types of activities, you grade within the activity itself, not in the grade book. These reported grades can be changed in the grade book, but that has other consequences that we will deal with later. For now, which are the activities that can be graded in Moodle?
- Blogs and Wikis
- Scorm activities
Again, these are only the tools that allow for grading within the activity itself. The flexibility of Moodle allows for many other ways for students to demonstrate their learning. To report a grade on other ways, the instructor will have to edit the grade book directly. More on that later.
Setting up a Graded Activity - Forum Example
To show you the standard workflow of a graded activity, let's use a forum as an example. It starts with the settings page for the forum - which is the first place you are taken after picking forum from the Activity chooser menu. Notice on this page the sections for "Grade" and "Ratings."
Grade Settings - Forum Example
From these sections, you can set the Grade category under which this grade will appear in the grade book - if you have created categories, as we as set how grades will be collated from student submissions. Let's look more closely at how grades are aggregated here.
Calculating a Grade - Forum Example
For this example, I've chosen Maximum rating as my aggregation type. You can see the other ratings types explained by clicking on the question mark tooltip icon next to this. I've set the rating type to points and the maximum points to 100. I've saved my changes, so lets go to the gradebook and see how this looks.
Gradebook setup - Forum Example
You can see from the Setup screen of the grade book that a column has been created. The Max grade is set to 100 points just as we established on the Forum settings page. Also, notice that the Edit menu for this column has limited options. Because this grade item is associated with a course activity, you cannot make substantive changes (or delete the column) from the grade book. You have to make these changes from the activity (forum) settings page. If you want to delete the column, you have to delete the activity associated with it.
You can, of course,add a grade item (grade column) in the grade book for which there is no associated activity in Moodle. This is what a f2f instructor would do if they have an assignment that they want to record as a grade in Moodle, but that is not being submitted through Moodle. (E.g. an essay that is turned in during class) For this grade item, the instructor would input the grades directly into the grade book from the
Activity Grading - Forum Example
Returning to the forum activity, you see that grading will occur using the rating menu inside an individual post. This grade is reported to and posted in the grade book for the student to view. If I want, I can change the student's grade directly in the grade book. Doing this on a graded activity causes an "override" of the grade - which means that the instructor cannot update the grade from the activity any more, unless...
Grade Override - Forum Example
...you go to the grade book and uncheck the "overridden" box in that grade's settings page. Here you can see that I've changed the student's grade directly in the grade book. You can tell this from the gold background of the grade's cell. To revert back to grading this activity via the forum itself (see previous page), just click on the settings icon and uncheck the "overridden" field on the settings page. (You must Turn editing on in the gradebook before doing this.)
- The forum example is one common grading workflow in Moodle using an activity reporting grades to the gradebook. Other activities will have similar workflows, but grading options will change depending on activity type.
- Some workflows have special considerations. For example, if a Moodle quiz is hidden in the course outline, it will automatically hide the grade column from students in the grade book. In that case, you need to use other settings to control access to the quiz that do not affect the grade's visibility in the grade book.
- Instructors appear as a student in the grade book. This allows them to switch to a student role and see the grade book from a student perspective. Role switching is an excellent way to check that grades are visible to students. To switch to a student view, click on your name (appears in the upper-right corner of the page when logged in) and then click on Switch role to.