Adding Categories and Graded Items in Moodle

In this post, we are going to take a closer look at setting up the gradebook in Moodle. In particular we are going to learn how to setup categories and graded items in. For many, the gradebook in Moodle is very confusing and hard to understand. However, with some basic explanation the gradebook can become understandable and actually highly valuable.

Finding the Setup Page

After logging into Moodle and selecting a course in which you are the teacher, you need to do the following.

  1. Go to the administration block and click on “grades”
  2. Next click on the “setup” tab. You should see the following

33.jpg

The folder “ENGL 5000 Experimental course” is the name of the class that I am using. Your folder should have the name of your class in this place. When you create categories and grade items they should all be inside this folder.

Making Categories

It makes sense to create categories first so that we have a place to put various graded items. How you setup the categories is up to you. One thing to keep in mind is that you can create sub-categories, sub-sub categories, etc. This can get really confusing so it is suggested that you only make main categories for simplicity sake unless there is a compelling reason not to do this. In this example, we will create 4 main categories and they are

  • Classwork (35% of grade)
  • Quizzes (20% of grade)
  • Tests (20% of grade)
  • Final (25% of grade)

To make a category click on “Add category” and you will see the following.

12.jpg

  1. Give the category the name “Classwork”
  2. Aggregation is confusing for people who are not familiar with statistics. There are different ways in which grades can be calculated in a category below is the explanation of 2 that are most commonly used.
    • Mean of grades-This aggregation calculate the mean of the graded items. All items have the same weight
    • Simple weighted mean-For this aggregation, the more points an item is worth the more influence it has in the calculation of the grade for the category.
  3. Set your aggregation to “mean of grades
  4. Click on “category total”
  5. The grade type should be set to “value” this means that it is worth points.
  6. The maximum grade should be set to 35. Remember our classwork category is worth 35% so we want the category to be worth 35 points and the entire class to be worth 100 points. Moodle is able to standardized the data so that everything fits accordingly.
  7. Click on “save changes”

Repeat what we did for the “classwork” category for each of the other categories in the example. Below are screenshots of the categories

QUIZZES Category

12.jpg

TEST CATEGORY

12.jpg

FINAL CATEGORY

12

If everything went well you should see the following on the setup page.

12.jpg

Notice how the class is now worth 100 points. You can make your categories worth whatever you want. However, it becomes difficult to interpret the scores when you do anything. As educators, we are already use to a 100 point system so you may as well use that in Moodle as well even though you have the flexibility to make it whatever you want.

There is one more step we need to take in order to make sure the gradebook calculates grades correctly. You may have noticed that each of our categories are worth a different number of points. Therefore, we must tell Moodle to weigh these categories differently. Otherwise the results of each category will have the same weight on the overall grade. To fix this problem do the following.

  1. Find the folder that has the name of your course (for me this is ENGL 5000 Experimental course)
  2. To the right of the folder there is a link called “edit” click on this.
  3. Click “edit settings”
  4. You do not need to give this category a name so leave that blank.
  5. For aggregation, change it to “simple weighted mean”
  6. Click “save changes”

You should see the following

12

Notice in the course total that it now says “simple weighted mean of grades”.

For adding graded items, you do the following

  1. Click on “add graded item”
  2. Give it a name (I will call mines quiz 1)
  3. Determine how many points it is worth (for me 10 points)
  4. Scroll to the bottom and you will see a drop down tab called “grade category”
  5. Pick the category you want the graded item to be in.

Below is an example of a quiz I put in the quiz category. This is what the setup page should look like if this is down correctly

12.jpg

As you can see, quiz 1 is worth ten points. You may wonder how quiz 1 can be worth 10 points when the entire category is only worth 20. Remember, Moodle use statistics to condense the score of the quiz to fit within the 20 points of the category.

Conclusion

This post exposed you to the basics of setting up categories and graded items in Moodle. The main problem with the gradebook is the flexibility it provides. With some sort of a predefined criteria it is easy to get confused in using it. However, with the information provided here, you now have a foundation for using the Moodle gradebook.

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