We often get questions about setting up a Canvas gradebook, so here are some commonly asked questions that might help you get your gradebook configured correctly. If we missed your question, let us know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Q: How do I weight assignments within an assignment group?
A: Canvas always uses total points to calculate grades, even when using weighted groups. The grade for the group is calculated using (Points Earned/Total Possible Graded Points). So if you have weighted groups and you want each assignment in the group to contribute equally to the group, each must have the same point value. But what if you have online quizzes with different numbers of questions? In this case, you control the point value of the quiz by modifying the point value of the questions. A ten-question quiz with one-point questions will have the same total point value as a five-question quiz with two-point questions.
Q: How does Canvas drop grades in a weighted group?
A: If you drop grades within a weighted group, your assignment point values are important if you want each student to get a dropped grade that counts as the same amount. If the assignments in a weighted group do not have the same point value and you drop a lowest grade, Canvas will drop the grade that gives the student the best possible score for the group using the total points for the group.
It is important to remember that if you drop grades, you must enter a 0 for any assignment not submitted by a student. Canvas will only drop graded items. A good habit when you are done grading an assignment is to use the Set Default Grade tool to fill in any missing assignment grades with a 0. Remember, all assignments should eventually have a grade.
Q: What about adding extra credit?
A: The answer to this question really depends on your gradebook. For total points gradebooks, just create zero-point assignment to add extra points to a student’s total earned points without adding more possible points. For weighted gradebooks, you need to plan appropriately because you have some options:
- Add a zero point assignment into any group to add more total earned points to that group only.
- Make an extra credit assignment group and add assignments to it with a point value. Make the group worth 0% of the final grade until the end of the semester – this may be important. If you add an extra credit group that contributes during the semester, students might see a confusing cumulative course grade during the semester. At the end of the semester, change the percentage value of the extra credit group.
Q: I want to use the Canvas gradebook only to show assignment grades because I calculate final grades elsewhere. How do I hide total grades from my students?
A: Hiding the Total column from students is recommended if you are not using Canvas to calculate final grades, since students may see a Total grade that is not accurate. You can hide total grades for your course in Settings. Scroll to the bottom of the Course Details page and click the link labeled more options. Check the box labeled “Hide totals in student grades summary.” While you are there, consider checking the option underneath labeled “Hide grade distribution graphs from students” to not allow students to view the high, low, and mean score for an assignment if you concerned students figuring out each other’s grades.
Q: When I exported my gradebook last semester, I saw both a current score and a final score. What’s the difference?
A: When you are in the gradebook in your course, the Total that you see is the total current score. The total current score is the score that is calculated for all graded activities. It does not include any assignments that have not yet been submitted or graded. If there is a null value (-) it ignores it in the calculation. In the exported gradebook, The Final Score calculates all graded activities whether or not it has been given an actual grade. If there is a null value (-) it treats it as a zero in the calculation. But, at the end of the semester, the scores should be equal because all assignments should eventually have a grade. If they are not, a student may be missing a grade. If a student is truly exempt from a grade, you can excuse a grade by selecting the specific student’s cell in the gradebook and typing “EX.”