Apr 18 2018

Updates to the Gradebook in March, 2018

The CoursePlus team is always working to make CoursePlus better. We take requests and feedback from faculty, staff, and students alike on a daily basis. 

Based on the feedback we've received, we made the following enhancements to the Gradebook in March, 2018:

  • There is now an option on the "Enter Grades" page to give all students who don't have a grade for that item a zero.
  • In Gradebook categories where one or more of the lowest/highest scores are dropped when calculating the final grade, percentage values for each item in the category on the Gradebook setup page are no longer shown. Instead an (i) icon appears with the following help text: "Items in this category will be assigned an equal weight that is based on how many items remain when the lowest and/or highest grades are dropped. This value may vary from student to student, and at different points during the term."
  • In Gradebook categories where one or more of the lowest/highest scores are dropped when calculating the final grade, grades that are dropped are now shown with a "Dropped" label, instead of the percentage that they would have contributed to a category, on the individual student view of their Gradebook. 
  • If feedback has been sent to a student, the score and feedback for that item is now automatically displayed to the student on their view of the Gradebook.
  • When grading by student (seeing all the graded items for an individual student, instead of a single graded item for the whole class), links now appear at the bottom of the page which take you to the previous or next student on the roster.
  • The percentage weight that an item has for a category is now shown to two decimal places on the student view of their Gradebook.

If you have any questions about any of these changes to the Gradebook, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:31 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Apr 11 2018

Student Academic Ethics and Proctor Signature Options in the Quiz Generator

At the the request of a focus group of faculty and the Office of Academic Integrity at the School, two new options have been added to the setup of exams in the Quiz Generator in CoursePlus.

First, you can now require that a student sign their name to an academic ethics statement as part of a quiz. The academic ethics statement, developed by the Office of Academic Integrity, appears at the top of the quiz and reads:

With my typed signature below, I pledge that the following assessment was completed in accordance with the applicable Academic Ethics Code of my Institution.

I have neither given nor received aid in completion of this assessment, nor used any course or other materials, unless specifically authorized by the Instructor.

Previously, some faculty added a single question to their quiz that asked the student to sign their name to an academic ethics statement written by the faculty. That question would then be excluded from scoring. This is now possible via a single choice in the exam setup, with no additional work on the part of the faculty. Faculty are, of course, still free to create their own academic ethics exam question if they prefer language different from what is provided by the Office of Academic Integrity.

Second, for exams that use proctors (and therefore require a password), you can now require that the proctor signs their name and enter their job title before a student submits their answers to an exam.  The statement that the proctor agrees to, approved by the Office of Academic Integrity, reads:

With my typed signature below, I certify that the examination has been completed in my presence and in accordance with the instructions provided.

If either of the above options are selected in the exam setup, the student signature or proctor signature as entered by the student or proctor appears at the top of the faculty view of an individual student's responses to the exam. 

We hope that these additions to the Quiz Generator will make administering your online exams a bit simpler, and encourage students to more strictly adhere to the School's academic ethics policy.

If you have any questions about these additions, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:02 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Apr 2 2018

How Do I See the Current Grades for Students in My Class?

Knowing how students are performing in your class and targeting interventions with students who may be struggling is a key practice in ensuring success for all students. If you use the Gradebook in your CoursePlus site, you can see how students are performing in the class at any time by using one of these two methods:

First, you can look at the student view of the Gradebook for any student in your class. To do this:

1. Go to the Gradebook, and click on the "By Student" tab on the main Gradebook page.

2. At the top of each "Enter Grades by Student" page, there is a button that takes you to that student's view of the Gradebook in your course. Click that button:

3. At the top of the page, the current overall grade for the student will be displayed.

Alternatively, you can use the "Prepare Final Grade" view in the Gradebook to see all current grades for all students in the class at one time. Note that even if your Gradebook is based on points, the Final Grades page will convert that number into a percentage value. That's because the Final Grades page works only on percentages (for now).

In the old Gradebook, the Final Grades page used to show you the student's grade as if they received a zero for any items not currently graded in the Gradebook. That made it difficult to determine how all students were doing at, say, the mid-term point in the class. The Final Grades page now only shows the student grade based on the grades that have been entered for them in the Gradebook up to that moment in time. As such, you can view the current grade for all students in your class at any point in the term by going to the "Prepare Final Grade" view in the Gradebook.

If you have any questions about this, please contact CTL Help!


Posted by Brian Klaas at 4:05 PM - Categories: CoursePlus

Mar 14 2018

Better Handling of Add/Drop Combinations in the Same Course

A long-standing problem in the processing of enrollment data from SIS has been the ordering of data based on the exact date and time a student added or dropped a course in SIS. This normally does not affect the vast majority of students. However, for courses where multiple sections of a course use the same CoursePlus site, a student who dropped one section of the course but then added the other section of the course could end up having the DROP processed after the ADD in CoursePlus. If a student added and dropped the same section of the same course, this could sometimes result in a similar problem. This problem would result in the student constantly being dropped from the course in CoursePlus, even though the student was registered for the course in SIS. This is because the data from SIS lacked an original transaction date that could be used for sorting and ensuring that ADDs were processed after DROPs.

We have worked these past few months with the SIS team to get the information we need to prevent the issue where a student drops one section of a class and adds the other section (or re-adds the same section), but then has the DROP processed after the ADD in CoursePlus. The SIS team now provides us with the exact date and time on which an add or drop is created in SIS. This gives us the ability to ensure that records for courses that have multiple sections using a single CoursePlus site are always processed in the correct order.

We know that this will avoid problems we see at the start of every term with students switching between .01 and .02 sections of a course. Anything that reduces problems with accessing CoursePlus sites is always a win for the CoursePlus team!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:29 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Feb 28 2018

Gradebook Updates in February

The team behind CoursePlus has been busy since the launch of the new version of the Gradebook. In addition to sqashing a small number of bugs that came up since releasing the new version of the tool, the team has also added a couple of features which couldn't make it in for the initial release:

  • If categories are used in the Gradebook setup, the weight of each category and the weight of each item in each category are now shown both on the student view of the Gradebook and the export of all Gradebook information to Excel. This makes it much easier to see how an individual grade weighs in the overall grade for a course.
  • Changes made to the final grade scale on the "Final Grades" page are now saved between visits to the page. Prior to this change, the actual final grades for each student were always saved, but the grading scale of what grade range equals an A, what grade range equals a B, and so on, was not. 
  • Every time you moved an item in the Gradebook setup, a modal (screen-blocking) dialog would appear at the top of the page indicating that the change was saved. This became fairly annoying fairly quickly. We've changed that modal dialog to an inline confirmation displayed in the item which was just moved.
  • Deleting items throughout the Gradebook previously caused a modal (screen-blocking) popup to appear to confirm the deletion. Delete confirmations now appear immediately next to the delete icon or button.
  • The "Enter Grades" page for an item in the Gradebook is now paginated in classes with more than 75 students.

The CoursePlus continues to work on the Gradebook, making changes based on feedback we've received thus far. We'll have more changes to share in the coming months. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the new version of the Gradebook, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 9:25 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Feb 20 2018

Change Scores When Grading All Responses to a Single Question

Faculty and TAs find the "Grade All Responses to a Single Question" tool in the CoursePlus Quiz Generator to be immensely useful. It allows for quick grading of all student answers to a question at once, and provides better context for evaluating different student responses in a consistent way.

One limitation of this tool was that once you scored an individual student, there was no way to change that score from the "Grade All Responses to a Single Question" page. You had to drill down to the page showing all questions and answers from an individual student. This was tedious to do if you wanted to change more than one student score for the question. Additionally, the "Grade All Responses to a Single Question" page does not show individual student names by default, so forcing you to drill down on to an individual student response set page revealed the student name, eliminating any pretense of anonymity during scoring.

Fortunately, we've removed this problematic limitation. You can now change scores for individual students while on the "Grade All Responses to a Single Question" page:

Example of changing student scores on "Grade All Responses to a Single Question" page.

Changing scores on this page works exactly the same as it does when entering a score for the first time.

We hope that this change will make the scoring of all responses to a single question a little easier and more useful for you. If you have questions about how this feature works, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:41 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

Jan 18 2018

What's New In the New Gradebook?

In the post announcing the new Gradebook, we stressed that the new Gradebook basically functions the same as the old Gradebook. We wanted to keep the learning curve for the rebuilt Gradebook to a minimum. However, as with all web applications, there wind up being some differences as we make improvements.

Most importantly, setups from the old Gradebook do not carry over into the rebuilt Gradebook. The rebuild of the Gradebook required a completely new underlying data structure. This new data structure requires that all setups in all third term, AY17-18 courses (and beyond) be rebuilt. You can refer to CoursePlus site for the last offering of your course to see how you had things set up as you rebuild the Gradebook in the new version of the tool.

Next, the main Gradebook page has a couple of changes:

Screenshot of the main gradebook landing page

Most noticeably, viewing graded activities by item is now the default view that covers most of the page. There are separate tabs for viewing grades by student and grades by group.

Additionally, "Generate Reports" has been replaced by a single link to "Export Grades to Excel." The reports page in the old Gradebook simply linked you to a page where you could download one of two versions of all grades in Excel format. In this version of the Gradebook, we've combined those two versions of the Excel file into one (including all data from both versions). Instead of making you click a link to go to a page with just one link on it (to generate the Excel file), we removed that intermediate step.

The "Enter Grades" view also looks a bit different. We focused on streamlining the interface so the listing for each student doesn't take up quite so much vertical space:

Screenshot of new enter grades page

Instead of lots of text stating that feedback is ready to send to students, we've added an icon for that. All of the icons on the page have tooltips which explain what each icon means, and change dynamically to reflect changes you make on the page as you work.

We did add one entirely new feature to the rebuilt Gradebook: students can see their current grade in the class based on the grades they currently see in their personal view of the Gradebook.

Screenshot of current overall grade feature

This is different than the previously existing "final grade" feature of the Gradebook. The "final grade" is what is sent to SIS for the student's official records. The current grade reflects both a) the student's grade as determined by the grades entered for at that time in the Gradebook, and b) the student's grade as determined by the items visible to the student at that time. If an item is not visible to a student in their view of the Gradebook, it will not be included in the current grade calculation.

Additionally, there is now a log of all changes made to the setup of each Gradebook, accessible by clicking on the "History" button on the Gradebook setup page:

Screenshot of the button that opens the new history tool‚Äč

On the more technical side, it's important to note that the new Gradebook uses queues for managing score import from the Quiz Generator and the calculation of current/final grades for an individual student. This has implications for seeing changes immediately in either quiz-linked graded items or in final grade calculations:

  • Quiz Generator scores are imported automatically, in the background, on a scheduled task that runs every 5 minutes. Scores are no longer imported when you open up the "Enter Grades" view for a quiz-linked graded item. This normally won't present any problems because as individual quizzes are graded, the Quiz Generator import task will pick up the grades and put them in the Gradebook. However, if someone changes a student score and recalculates a student grade in a quiz, and then goes immediately into the Gradebook, the new score will not be there (unless the scheduled task happens to run that second).
  • Final/current grade calculation works in a similar way: when a grade is updated for any student in any graded item in a course Gradebook, that student goes into a queue. Every couple minutes, the queue is checked and a batch of students gets pulled off the queue to have their current and final grade recalculated. This means that you won't have to wait for everyone's final grade to get recalculated when you pull up the "Prepare Final Grade" page because that work has already happened behind the scenes. However, again, if someone changes a student grade on an item and then immediately goes to the "Prepare Final Grade" page, the new grade won't be there immediately. It may take a couple minutes, or longer, depending on how busy the Gradebook is.

We expect that all of the above changes won't contribute to any significant learning curve for the rebuilt Gradebook. We also expect that these changes will make your work in the Gradebook faster and simpler in the long run.

As always, if you have questions about how this tool works, please contact CTL Help!

Posted by Brian Klaas at 8:07 AM - Categories: CoursePlus

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