Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Stay in Control of Student Expectations by Hiding Gradebook Items in your Gradebook


Stay in Control of Student Expectations by Hiding Gradebook Items in your Gradebook

By John Buckingham

The Gradebook tool is easily one of the most important tools in your course site side tool bar, as it keeps students in the know of their progress and performance in your class. Timely access to grades is not only critical to improving student performance, but it also plays a major role in student critiques in faculty evaluations. So what happens when students see ungraded Gradebook items? Does this set up an expectation for students to see grades on a time scale they envisage? Does it inspire a question in the student's mind that the instructor might be a procrastinator? We at Technology and Learning believe that it does.

Fortunately, Courses (Powered by Sakai) provides the ability to hide Gradebook items! This way, you can create the items ahead of time, grade the activity when the due date has elapsed, and then release the item and the corresponding scores to students. Making this process even simpler, Sakai Gradebook prompts you to make a decision on this point at the moment when you are creating each gradebook item.

To illustrate, I am going to show a Gradebook that includes weighting categories and one graded assignment, as seen below in the third image. At this point, I want to go ahead and add Gradebook items for the Final and Midterm respectively, but hide them from students. To that end, I’ll simply click on “Add Gradebook Item(s).”

After providing all of the data for the required fields, you’ll observe a “Release this item to Students” checkbox that has already been checked by default for you. Simply uncheck that box and remember to save your work by selecting “Add Item(s).”

Now, you’ll observe each of the items in their respective weighting categories with a grey color. This means that they’re invisible to students! You will be able to confirm this by going to the View Site As drop down box at the top right (as shown below) and viewing as a student.

Now you can rest assured that your Final and Midterm exam gradebook items cannot be seen by students.

Once you’re ready to reveal an item and its corresponding scores, simply click on the “Edit” button next to the gradebook item.

Then check the “Release this Item to Students” check box. Be sure to check the “Include this item in course grade calculations” if you’re letting Sakai keep track of grades. Don’t forget to “Save Changes!”

As you can see, the Midterm Item is now no longer grayed out and the scores are available to students for viewing.

Hiding Gradebook items can be the difference between setting up student expectations for disappointment and managing those expectations from the beginning. If you have any questions, please don’t contact us at Technology & Learning for a consultation!

John C. Buckingham III