Grading Scales in Moodle

A+, Satisfactory, 58%, Partial understanding, Needs more work, below average – yes there are many ways for us teachers to express how well we think a student has done in an assessment activity. This is very important as sometimes we want to give a very precise grade and other times we just want the student to know that they are doing well. To do this we use grading scales.

Grading scales are a way of capturing, and communicating, student performance in a learning or assessment activity. A very typical grading scale is to use a percentage to represent the amount of correct responses from a given student. Another popular grading scale is to use letters to indicate performance e.g. from an ‘A’ grade for the best possible performance on the assessment to an ‘F’ grade, to represent a failing grade in the assessment.

Moodle allows for the use of both numeric and non-numeric grading scales for Forums, Glossaries and Assignments. Numeric grading scales are defined from 1-100, where the instructor indicates the maximum grade for the activity, e.g. a max of 100 is a percentage grade or a max of 10 can be used where students are marked out of a maximum mark of 10. Moodle has one non-numeric scale defined out of the box called “Separate and Connected ways of knowing”. This scale allows an instructor to define a learner’s knowledge of an area in terms of connected knowing or separate knowing as defined by Belenky et. al (1986).

Moodle also allows  instructors and administrators to define new non-numeric course-wide and site-wide grading scales respectively. The screen-shot below shows the Moodle screen used to define a new grading scale. The “name” field is used to define the name of the new scale, “scale” is used to define the separate grading scales (each scale is separated by a comma) and the “description” field is used to describe the rationale behind the new grading scale. Each non-numeric grade is assigned a numeric value behind the scenes. When entering grades they should be entered in increasing order of value, therefore the grades A,B,C,D should be entered as D,C,B,A. The value of each grade is based on the number of grades in the scale. To illustrate how the value of grades are calculated, below, we have taken the grades generally used in university degree programmes:

  • University degree grading system – Fail, Pass, 2nd Class Honours (Grade 2), 2nd Class Honours (Grade 1), First Class Honours
    • (Valued as 0/4pts, 1/4pt, 2/4pts, 3/4pts and 4/4pts respectively in any normalized aggregation method)
    • (Valued as 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 respectively in the sum aggregation method)
Grading scale definition in Moodle

Grading scale definition in Moodle

Okay so you have your grading scale set up, now how do you use them in your assessments? Easy all you do is specify the appropriate grading scale when you are creating your assessments. To do this all you need to do is set the “grade” in the assessment settings. In the screen shot below you can see the custom scales at the top of the list. There are two non-numeric grading scales:

  • MyScale – Excellent, Very good, Good, Average, Poor, Very poor
  • Separate and Connected Ways of Knowing – Separate knowing, Connected knowing, Separate and connected knowing
Selecting a grading scale when setting up an assignment

Selecting a grading scale when setting up an assignment

So what does the teacher see? The screen shot below displays what a teacher will see when correcting an offline assignment that is using the MyScale as a grading scale.

Teacher grading assignment using MyScale

Teacher grading assignment using MyScale

For more information on grading scales have a look at the grading scales page on the moodle.org web site – http://docs.moodle.org/en/Scales

About Mark Melia

Learning Solutions Consultant at Enovation and Associate Faculty Lecturer at National College of Ireland. "Using technology in teaching and learning makes me tick."
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