The GauchoSpace Gradebook is a flexible database for collecting, calculating, and displaying student grades/feedback in classes of all sizes. This article explains the advantages of using the Gradebook and contains a step-by-step guide for basic setup. For specific help on entering student grades into the Gradebook, please see this article.
Reviewing the following terminology may help you get the most out of this article:
Grade Item: An entry that appears in the Gradebook that can hold scores for each student. Comparable to a column in a typical gradebook (Excel or paper spreadsheet).
Manual Grade Item: A grade item that is created inside the GauchoSpace gradebook and is not automatically linked to a GauchoSpace activity. These can be used to hold grades for assignments/activities that occur outside of GauchoSpace, such as in-class participation or a paper-based assignment. Manual grade items can not be overridden because the user always controls their values.
Automatic Grade Item: A grade item that is directly linked with a GauchoSpace activity (such as an Assignment, Quiz, Forum, etc.) and is placed into the Gradebook by the activity. Changes made by the activity (such as automatic grading in a quiz, or scores generated from rating a forum post) are automatically pushed into the Gradebook. Automatic grade items can be overriden in order to make changes to values generated by the activity.
Grade categories are groups of related grades that will be calculated together; they are useful when there are multiple similar assignments (e.g., weekly responses, quizzes, participation, etc). Each group of grade items within a category will be calculated together. Stand-alone assessments, such as a Final Exam, can just be created as individual grade items and do not need to be placed in a category.
The Gradebook has several advantages over keeping grades in spreadsheet programs like Excel or Google Sheets:
1. Student grade transparency
The Gradebook promotes transparent student assessment in three ways:
- It is important for students to be able to see grades and feedback from all course instructors in a single, conveniently-accessible place. Typically, GauchoSpace Gradebook is the first place that students look for updates on their academic performance. If grades and feedback are disseminated via other mediums too often, it can become difficult for students to keep track of their overall progress across courses.
- The Gradebook not only displays grades that have already been awarded, but also the respective weights of upcoming assignments, giving them a sense for how they are performing in the class on the whole.
- The gradebook promotes quick turnaround of student grades. The default settings of the gradebook ensure that grades and feedback are instantly visible to students as soon as instructor grading is saved in the respective activity grading interfaces.
2. Convenient time-saving features
The gradebook has several time-saving features:
- Activity grading interfaces automatically push grades to gradebook. Not only is this convenient, it also eliminates any risk of inputting incorrect grades due to human error.
- You can filter grades by student, TA section, or assignment.
- The gradebook includes built-in aggregation functions. No need for messy "Excel" functions that, incorrectly set up, could display inaccurate final grades to students!
Filter options in the "single view" report:
3. Student data protection
The GauchoSpace Gradebook is a secure place to hold student grade data. Not only is data saved on GauchoSpace protected by UCSB network security, it is also automatically backed-up several times a day. Offline alternatives for storage are risky -- hardware malfunction, data corruption, or theft of your digital device could result in student grade data being irretrievably lost. Also, in the remote case that GauchoSpace data is lost, it won't be your fault!
4. Grade input and visualization
- The Gradebook contains multiple interfaces for viewing and inputting grades, including the grader, single view, and user reports.
- GauchoSpace has built-in tools for descriptive statistical analysis of Gradebook data, such as the grade forecast and distribution reports, as well as analytics graphs.
The "grade distribution" report helps visualize overall student performance:
To set up a basic gradebook, follow these 4 procedures:
Grade categories (see Definitons section), if applicable, should be set up before adding individual grade items.
1a. In the Administration Block click Gradebook setup:
1b. Click Add category at the bottom of the page.
1c. Enter the category's name:
1d. Click Save Changes:
1e. Repeat for all required categories
You will see that activities created in GauchoSpace will automatically have a corresponding grade item in the gradebook!
However, certain "offline" grading criteria (like participation) will need to be added manually:
2a. In the Administration Block, click Gradebook setup:
2b. Click Add grade item:
2c. Enter the grade item name:
2d. Enter a convenient value for this item to be graded out of. For example, if a quiz has 7 questions, you may want to grade it out of 7. Note that this value does not necessarily correspond to the weight that this assignment carries in the course total. The weight will be assigned later.
2e. Click Save changes:
2f. Repeat for all required grade items.
3a. In the Administration Block, click Gradebook setup:
3b. Check the boxes for a set of items that correspond to a category:
3c. At the bottom of the page, select the drop-down menu, Move selected items to, and select the appropriate category:
3d. If the "recalculating grades" window appears, click continue:
3e. The items should now appear nested in a category, like this:
3f. Repeat for all required categories / item sets.
3g. You can change the order of items and categories with the "up/down" arrow icon.
4a. Make sure that the grade aggregation for each category is set to Natural (this is the default):
4c. Enter weight values so that the total for the parent category equals 100:
4d. If applicable, enter weight values so that the total for each sub-category equals 100:
4e. Click Save changes.
Congratulations! Your gradebook setup is complete:
This video covers some of the basic steps of setting up your gradebook:
Here are some common issues that can arise while using the Gradebook:
"I just created a grade item for my quiz/assignment, but now there are duplicates in my gradebook."
Remember: GS activities like quizzes and assignments generate a grade item that will appear in the gradebook automatically. There is no need to manually create another grade item!
"I see grade items in my gradebook, but my students tell me that they cannot see them in their gradebook view."
Check to see if any items or categories are hidden in the gradebook. It they are hidden, they display in grey for you, and not at all for your students.
"I'd like a student's lowest grade item in a category to be dropped automatically. Is this possible?"
Yes! This is possible as long as the category items hold equal weight. Check out this article for details.
"I can't assign grades to the categories that I added to the gradebook."
Don't confuse grade items and categories! Categories can't be graded -- they are just containers for grade items.
"My gradebook is not calculating according to the weights that I assigned. Also, there is a strange 'calculator' icon in one or more of my categories."
You may have an active custom calculation in your gradebook. These are not recommended for basic use and are often the cause of problems for instructors.
"I have duplicate i>Clicker categories/grade items in my gradebook."
If you are using i>Clicker, you do not need to manually create a grade category for i>Clicker scores (dates), as it will be created when you first import your i>Clicker scores and populate each time you sync with iGrader.
"I see an option for 'overrides' in the gradebook. What does this mean?"
When a grade override is on, it prevents future attempts to adjust the value of the grade by any other means -- this includes editing of corresponding feedback, as well. Assigning grades via override to GauchoSpace activities with automatic grade items (see definitions) is not recommended, because it will not update the "needs grading" count in the respective activities.