I would like advice on the best way to assist one of our professors who doesn't use points in his grading system. He only uses percentages for each graded item.
Connie, I'm not sure if you are asking about the mechanics of using Blackboard in this way or the philosophy of doing so. In either case, my knee-jerk response is to suggest that the instructor use points!
I love mathematics in general, and arithmetic in particular. So, as a student, I enjoyed deciphering all of the bizarre and random grading schemes used by various faculty and analyzing the impact that each system ultimately had on the final grade that I earned in a course. (I thought of it as a stress-relief method that was particularly useful during painfully dull lecture courses.)
As an instructor, though, and now as a system administrator I regularly encounter students for whom "basic" calculations related to grades are not at all fun and even some students for whom this can be frustrating and a waste of time and cognitive power. (I already hear some of you who will read this saying with tones of moral superiority, "if they can't do the basic math that it takes to translate numbers into percentages and percentages back into numbers, they shouldn't be in college in the first place." I reject that claim as self-evident, but I don't have the time/space to dialogue about it now. So, if we can set that aside, I would just like to address the question of assisting a professor who uses percentages and not points in his grading schema.) If we agree that the point of grading is to communicate to students something about the quality of their performance in a class, it seems to me self-evident that the ultimate goal of this communication is to be clear to the communicative partner--the student--NOT to use our position of power-over our communicative partner to force them to learn a language (mathematics) with which they are someone uncomfortable or less fluent. Thus, I always encourage instructors to ask themselves to identify and use the most universally understandable grading scheme. For me, this amounts to grading every assignment on a 100 point scale and setting up my calculated final grade column to always reflect the current percentage grade that every student has earned. More importantly, regardless of the grading scheme used, I always make a point to explain the scheme to students and provide them with the information necessary for them to answer for themselves any questions that they may have about their grade in the course (e.g. What do I need to earn on the next exam to raiser my course grade?). I certainly recognize that others find different schemes to be more understandable to students.
And, I also recognize that you may not be able to have this conversation with a specific instructor. At the bare minimum, though, I hope that you will find some ways to encourage all faculty to reflect on why they use the grading schemas that they do and whether or not their students understand the system.
Finally, if you really were just asking about the mechanics of how the Bb Learn grade book can be set up to use percentages instead of points, please give us some more specific information. What version of Learn are you using and why does the instructor want to do that he doesn't already understand how to do?
We are on rel.75=4185aa5...........I am not sure why he insists on using percentages but he did tell me that he was used to using a different application for his gradebook in his face to face classes. I explained to him the basics of having grades displayed as percentages. Thanks for your insight. Honestly, I just think he likes doing something different from the rest of the faculty here.
Yes, I think that every school has at least one faculty member whose claim to fame is that they do everything differently--whether or not that person can articulate reasons why they insist on doing so.
One of the really exciting aspects of my 30+ year journey working in higher education, though, has been seeing the increased recognition of and adherence to evidence-based best practices in teaching. And, I think that insofar as the rapidly increasing use of educational technology has shown a light on all of the many aspects of teaching and learning, it has been a significant catalyst in this trend. So, I hope this trend continues and I hope that forums, like this Community, also will encourage this trend.
Thanks, Connie Mack, for raising this question.
Not sure why he likes that. It makes it impossible for students to really understand how they are doing. If I get 100% on a 10 point assignment, and then 50% on a 50 point assignment, how am I going to know how I'm doing? and if the total number of points for the course is 200, that means my current percentage is around 18% (35/200) but I won't be able to track why. How does this help? If there is more information please provide it!
To answer your question, if the primary display on the grade center columns is set for percentage, he can simply enter a percentage.
Thank you so much for your feedback. I always look forward to your posts on here. I get so much information just reading the discussions here. I did explain to him about how to change the primary display in the grade center to reflect percentages but he still seemed to have problems with the grades. I just wanted to make sure I was explaining things to him correctly and it appears that I was.
Percentage is best choice when it comes to those who need to know or calculate average of a student. Especially this is practiced highly in Indian education system.
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