Categories help in organizing the gradebook with common grade items (i.e. Quizzes, written assignments, lab reports, etc.). Categories have their own settings which can help in facilitating common grading schemes. Within the category settings, there are settings for the category name, drop the lowest, exclude empty grades and grade display time, among others.
The gradebook by default has a top-level category for the course, this has the name of the course title. In the screenshot example below the top-level category can be seen named "Sandbox Site". Nested below the top-level category is a category labeled "Quizzes".
To access the settings for a category click on "Edit" on the right side of the category and then on "Edit Settings".
The initial settings for a category in the gradebook offers the option to name the category, the aggregation type, how to handle empty grades and the option to drop the lowest.
1. Category Name - give the category a name, such as Quizzes, Reading Assignment, Lab Reports, etc.
2. Aggregation - We highly recommend using the Natural aggregation type which adds up point and applies any weights given to individual grade items and categories, for more information refer here.
3. Exclude empty grades: This setting determines how grade items with no grade are treated with the category grade as well as the course total grade. If unchecked any empty grades will be treated as 0s and count against a students grade. Alternatively, if this is checked empty grades do not impact a students category or overall grade total.
4. Drop the lowest: This setting will allow a number of grade items within the category to be removed from the grade calculation for the category. This is commonly used for categories with many grade items such as Quizzes when instructors want to drop a number of the lowest scores for their students.
To see additional category settings click on "Show more..." at the bottom of the page.
With Natural aggregation set most of the additional settings are locked. Important editable settings with Natural aggregation here are the Grade display type and Hidden.
Grade display type: By default, this is set to "Percentage (Real)" this means that the grade is displayed in percentage value and also as a point value for "Real". The "Real" value is a sum of the points awarded to grade items with the weights for grade items and categories applied. Other grade display types are available with combinations of Percentage, Letter, and Real.
Hidden: This setting makes the category and the items within the category hidden, by default hidden grades are not calculated into category and gradebook totals.