One of the most important ways to reduce cognitive load on our students is to establish clear guidelines and policies around grades. Using the features in Canvas to set up your gradebook correctly at the beginning of the semester will make it easier for you and your students during the semester. You’ll also be set up to use the Canvas REGIS GradeSync feature at the end of the semester to send final course grades to REGIS. Below you’ll find best practices to follow before the semester begins, during the semester, and at the end of the semester.
Before the Semester Begins
Following a few steps to ensure your gradebook is set up correctly before the semester begins will save you time (and headaches) at the end of the semester. This will make your gradebook easier to use during the semester and your final grades will be calculated accurately.
Set up your course grading scheme
The first step you should take to set up your gradebook is to set up your course grading scheme. This grading scheme should adhere to the information you provided in your course syllabus and also satisfy the Rutgers Grading System for final grades, which will not accept values with a minus (-).
Since the calculation of final grades requires that all assignment grades have numerical values, it is strongly recommended that you insert grades as numbers. For example, you may judge a paper to merit a B+ and communicate that to the student while also communicating the numeric value you are entering in the gradebook. A typical conversion of a B+ would be an 87, but you can set your own values.
Add assignment groups
Once your course grading scheme is enabled and set up properly you’ll manage the rest of the setup through the Assignments tool in your course navigation. You can organize your assignments into groups or categories such as quizzes, tests, papers, problem sets, homework, etc. This helps keep your assignment list organized and is how you’ll set up a weighted grading system, (e.g. Quizzes are worth 25% of the final grade, Tests are worth 25% of the final grade, Papers are worth 25% of the final grade, Problem Sets are worth 15% of the final grade, and Homework is worth 10% of the final grade).
Create all assignments that your students will submit and organize them within your assignment groups. These assignments can be “assignment shells” right now, meaning that they can simply state the assignment title, due date, and how many points they are worth. You can come back and edit the assignment when you are ready. However, it is important to determine the types of assignments your students will complete: quizzes, discussions, or assignments. When these assignments are created in Canvas it will automatically create columns in your gradebook for these assignments.
(Optional) Set up your grade posting policies
By default, Canvas gradebook is set up to automatically post grades. This means that each student’s assignment grade will be made available as soon as you submit their grade. If you like to choose when grades are available to students, for instance you want to release grades for all students at the same time, then you must set up your gradebook to the manual posting policy. If you would like some assignments to be set up as automatic posting and some assignments to be set up as manual posting you can also set up the policy for individual assignment columns in the gradebook.
(Optional) Set up rules for dropping grades
You can have Canvas automatically drop the lowest score from an assignment group. For example, maybe you want to drop the lowest quiz grade. In order for this rule to be applied properly, all items within that assignment group must be graded items and at the end of the semester all items in this group must have a grade value entered in the gradebook. Leaving any cells ungraded (with a “-“ in them) will cause the drop rule to be applied incorrectly for the students who have ungraded cells.
(Optional) Set up automated late submission or missing submission policies
You can use a missing submission policy to automatically assign a grade of 0 once the due date has passed to students who have not submitted an assignment (keep in mind, this won’t impact “no submission” or “on paper” assignments, so you will have to manually assign zeroes to those items).
Similarly you can use a late submission policy to automatically deduct points for late submission. There are important caveats to keep in mind when using the late submission policy, such as:
- The Late Submission policy should be set up when a course is created prior to creating assignments. Setting a late submission policy affects all assignments in a course, including assignments with due dates in the past.
- For the calculation of the Late Penalty, days late will be rounded up to the next whole number. For example, if a student submits 1.3 days late, the Late Penalty will treat the student as 2 days late. This behavior also applies for hour durations
- The Late Submission policy will not be automatically applied to No Submission or On Paper assignments. However, a Late label can be added in the Grade Detail tray.
- Keep all of these caveats in mind as you determine if setting up a late submission policy will be useful for you.
If you need to override these penalties you can do so manually.
During the Semester
The following suggestions will help you to get the most out of your Canvas gradebook during the semester and to ensure that your final grades will be calculated accurately.
Use SpeedGrader to grade student submissions
SpeedGrader is your one-stop-shop for all of your grading needs. Students will be able to see submission comments, annotations, and rubric comments you leave in SpeedGrader. In addition, when you grade assignments using SpeedGrader your gradebook will automatically be updated.
Become familiar with the grade tool in Canvas
The Canvas grades tool includes different icons, colors, and status indicators. It’s best to become familiar with what these indicators mean to make sure you are calculating your grades accurately.
Message students directly from the grade tool
It is convenient to message students directly from the grade tool in Canvas. This will allow you to message all students for a particular assignment who haven’t submitted yet, who haven’t been graded, who scored less than, or who scored more than. While you will be able to email multiple students at the same time, each student will receive an individual message.
(Optional) Add a notes column in your gradebook
If you like to use your gradebook to keep track of additional information about students, you can add a Notes column in the gradebook. This column will allow you to keep notes about students. The Notes column is not visible to students.
End of Semester
You want to ensure that your final grades will be calculated accurately at the end of the semester. Setting up your gradebook before the semester begins and using it appropriately during the semester will help make your end of semester go smooth.
(Optional) Override the final grade
You may choose to override the final course grade for a student at the end of the semester. This is possible as long as the grade appears in your grading scheme in course settings.
Use the REGIS GradeSync tool
You may wish to use the REGIS GradeSync tool in Canvas to push your final letter grades to REGIS. This will save you time and reduce error with a one-button one-time push to REGIS. Before using the GradeSync Tool you’ll want to ensure that each student has a grade and the grade has been posted and is visible to students.