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Canvas Spotlight: weighted grading

Customize your gradebook with weighted assignment groups.

By Laura Berryman, Nicholas Ogg, Chelsea Dyer and Alex McDaniel

April 20, 2021

There are many advantages to using a weighted grading scheme. For example, you don’t need to manipulate points to make your total points work out to a nice even number (such as 1,000), and you don’t need to shuffle points around when you add, remove or change an assignment. Also, you can easily ensure that major assignments, such as essays or exams, will be worth more than multiple small assignments, such as a series of homework assignments or participation points, without worrying about the math.

Weighted grading scheme graphHow does weighted grading work?

In a weighted grading scheme, assignment groups are set to make up certain percentages of the total grade. For example, as shown in the pie chart below, the homework category could be weighted at 15%, discussions at 20%, quizzes at 25% and exams at 40%. Note that those numbers add up to 100%.

To determine a student’s overall grade, Canvas would automatically perform the following calculation:

Final grade = (overall homework grade) x 15% + (overall discussion grade) x 20% + (overall quiz grade) x 25% + (overall exam grade) x 40%

Best practices

  • Since a weighted grading system is less common than a points-based system, be sure to thoroughly explain the grading system to your students.
  • Weight important assignment groups (such as tests and projects) more heavily than less important assignment groups (such as homework).
  • Make sure all assignment groups add up to 100% (unless you have an extra-credit category).
  • Easily create extra credit by creating an extra-credit assignment group that makes it possible for students to earn more than 100% in the course.
  • Continue to make each individual assignment/assessment worth the number of points that naturally makes sense, considering the number of criteria you are using to grade the assignment. For example, an essay with six rubric criteria and four rubric categories could be worth 24 points.
  • Remember that points are still relevant within each assignment group. For example, a 20-point homework assignment will impact the final grade more than a 10-point homework assignment.

Let’s walk through it together

For complete written step-by-step instructions, head over to the Center for Teaching, Learning and Design Ready Spotlight page.

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Topics: Academics, Best practices, Center for Teaching, Learning and Design, Online Learning

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