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Create grade items and categories

Grade items

Grade items are used to collect and store grades. Grades can be entered into a grade item manually, or can be published from a connected assessment (like a quiz, assignment, graded discussion, etc.)

You cannot have grades in the gradebook without having grade items.

This page outlines how to create grade items, hide/release them to the students, etc.

Grade categories

Grade categories are an optional feature in D2L and are useful for grouping and marking several grade items within the same category.

Grade items are grouped within grade categories.

Grade categories are most commonly used to drop the highest/lowest of a series of equally weighted quiz grades.

Only grade items can be used to enter grades. Grade categories cannot be used for this.

Create grade items

Numeric Grade Items contribute to the final calculated grade.

Screenshot of what's described in the steps.

1. On the Manage Grades page, click on the New button, and select Item.

Screenshot of what's described in the steps.

2. Click Numeric.

Screenshot of what's described in the steps.

3. Enter a Name for the grade item. If the name is long, you can enter a Short Name to display in the Enter Grades spreadsheet.

4. (OPTIONAL) If this grade item will be associated with a category, select a category from the Category drop-down list or click New Category. A category is a way to organize similar grade items. 

5. Enter the value you want the item graded out of in the Maximum Points field.

6. If you are using the weighted system, enter the Weight you want the grade item to contribute to the final calculated grade or the category total (if it's part of a category).

7. If you want users’ grades to exceed the total value of the item, select the Can Exceed check box. (E.g. if it's possible to earn extra points on the assignment, check this box.)

8. Select the Bonus check box if you want the item itself to be a bonus item for the final calculated grade.

 

9. You can select a Grade Scheme to associate with the item. A grade scheme is another way to display the score. The default grade scheme is a percentage calculation. (E.g. if the score is 7/10, students will see 70% in the Grade Scheme.) Here are a few of the most commonly used grade scheme options:

Screenshot of what's described in the steps.

10. These are checkboxes that allow you to overwrite some default display options for either the student view (the student view is how this grade item appears to your students), and/or the managing view (the managing view is your own personal view of this item as an instructor). 

Default display options can be adjusted in the settings of the Grades tool.

Screenshot of what's described in the steps.

11. Scroll back to the top and click the Restrictions tab. If you want to hide the grade item from students, you can click "Hide this Grade Item". 

12. Click Save and Close.

While numeric grade items are the most commonly used at Ryerson, it is also possible to create a grade item that is graded by letter.

When you create this grade item, you will need to choose the Ryerson undergraduate, opens in new window or graduate, opens in new window grade scale, depending on your course, or grades may be incorrect. You may not create your own grade scale.

When you are grading, and you select a letter grade, keep in mind that the median number value for that letter grade will be used in any final grade calculations for the course.

Screenshot of what's described in the steps.

1. On the Manage Grades page, click on the New button, and select Item.

2. Click Selectbox.

Screenshot of what's described in the steps.

3. Enter a Name for the grade item. If the name is long, you can enter a Short Name to display in the Enter Grades spreadsheet.

4. (OPTIONAL) If this grade item will be associated with a category, select a category from the Category drop-down list or click New Category. A category is a way to organize similar grade items.

5. Enter the value you want the item graded out of in the Maximum Points field.

6. If you are using the weighted system, enter the Weight you want the grade item to contribute to the final calculated grade or the category total (if it's part of a category).

7. If you want users’ grades to exceed the total value of the item, select the Can Exceed check box. (E.g. if it's possible to earn extra points on the assignment, check this box.)

8. Select the Bonus check box if you want the item itself to be a bonus item for the final calculated grade.

9. Since you chose to make this a letter grade item, you need to select one of Ryerson's established Grade Schemes to associate with the item. Here are your two grade scheme options to ensure your students are graded correctly:

Screenshot of what's described in the steps.

Display Options

These are checkboxes that allow you to overwrite some default display options for either the student view (the student view is how this grade item appears to your students), and/or the managing view (the managing view is your own personal view of this item as an instructor). 

Screenshot of what's described in the steps.

11. Scroll back to the top and click the Restrictions tab. If you want to hide the grade item from students, you can click "Hide this Grade Item".

12. Click Save and Close.

Note that we recommend HIDING the grade items at the start of term. Review the instructions below for details.

We highly recommend hiding your grade columns at the start of term.

There are a few reasons for this:

  1. It may be upsetting for a student to see a 0 value grade (or even an F), even if they know it is too early for those grades to be official.
  2. As you begin entering grades, students may receive notification emails (if they have enabled them). Some students may contact you if they hear that their peers have received grades when they haven't yet.
  3. Also related to email notifications, some workflows may send students notifications of incomplete grades - again, leading them to believe they have achieved a 0 on an assignment.

Overall, based on feedback we have received from instructors since we began using Brightspace, setting all grade items  as 'Hidden' (or scheduled for a future date release) seems to offer the best student and instructor experience.

Release conditions:

If you wish to restrict access to your quiz by specific criteria, please review our tutorial about how to add or edit release conditions.

On the Manage Grades page, click Edit from the context menu of the category or item you want to edit.

The Manage Grades page allows you to see which assignments are hidden/visible.

If there is a closed eye icon next to the assignment name, the assignment is currently set as hidden from students.

The default restriction setting in Brightspace makes all grade items visible to students.

If you do not want students to view grades as you mark grade items, you should "Hide this grade item" until you are ready for students to view the item, or select a date on which the grade will be visible.

In the Restrictions tab, select one of the following:

  • Category is always visible/Grade item is always visible: Users can see the category or item
  • Hide this category/Hide this grade item: Users can't see the category or item
  • Category is visible for a specific date range/Grade item is visible for a specific date range: Users can see the category or item during a restricted date range

3. If you select "Grade item (or category) is visible for a specific date range", use the Has Start Date and Has End Date options to specify when the category or item should be visible. Select Display in Calendar to display the category or grade item in the course calendar.

4. Click Save and Close.

A grade item identified as "bonus"

To create a bonus grade item:

  • When creating or editing a grade item, scroll down to the "Grading" section.
  • Check the box labelled "Bonus" and save.

When viewing the list of grade items in the Grades tool (Manage Grades view), bonus items will be idenified with a star icon. 

Bonus grade items can be a really useful tool for rewarding student achievements beyond the grades outlined in the syllabus, without penalizing students.

Bonus grades are applied on top of the final grade calculation. They do not impact the total weight or score possible for the final grade calculation.

In theory, a bonus could push a student's grade over 100%.

Before the bonus grade, the student achieved

80/100

After a 2% bonus is applied, the student achieves

82/100

*Notice that the bonus only impacted the numerator in this example, and not the denominator.

The grades tool in D2L Brightspace supports several different grade item types. We recommend that you use the Numeric type unless there is a very compelling reason to choose another option.

Numeric

Grade users by assigning a value out of a specified total number of points.
E.g. 8/10

Automatically grade users using a custom formula based on achievement on other grade items.

Selectbox

Grade users by selecting the grade scheme level that best matches their achievement (Eg. "A" or "B+").

Note: When creating this type of grade item, in the Grade Scheme field, make sure you select "Letter RU v1" for undergraduate or Chang courses and "Letter Graduate v1" for graduate courses, to ensure your students are graded on the correct scale.

Formula

E.g. Give users who received at least 50% on all participation grade items a perfect attendance bonus.
IF{ MIN{ [P1.Percent], [P2.Percent] } < 50, 0, 1

Note: Calculated grades can only be used for the Instructor to take a "snapshot" of student grades. These grades cannot be included in the Final Grade calculation, or in release conditions.

Calculated

Calculate users' cumulative achievement across multiple grade items.
E.g. Midterm Grade
A1+A2+Q1+Q2 / Total Max. Points * 100 = 73%

Note: Calculated grades can only be used for the Instructor to take a "snapshot" of student grades. These grades cannot be included in the Final Grade calculation, or in release conditions.

Text

Provide comments in the grade book that are not calculated in the final grade.
E.g. "Course Evaluation Completed"

 

Pass/Fail

Grade users using a simple pass/fail grade scheme.
E.g. "Pass" or "Fail"

Utilize grade categories to organize and control grade items

Grade categories are used to:

  • group a collection of grade items together
  • drop a number of highest/lowest grades in the category
  • provide a calculation by distributing grades across the items in the category

Once the category is created, you will need to add grade items to it. 

  • If the grade items already exist, simply edit them and identify their new category.
  • If the grade items do not yet exist, be sure to select the correct category when creating them.

The following instructions outline how to create a grade category.

Grade categories can only be used to apply calculations to a group of grade items. You cannot directly enter a grade into a grade category.

Screenshot of what's described in the steps.
  1. On the Manage Grades page, click Category from the New button.
Screenshot of what's described in the steps.
  1. Enter a Name for the category.
  2. If you want, enter a Short Name to display in the grade book.
  3. If you want, enter a Description of the category. Select the Allow users to view description check box if you want to make the category description available to users.
  4. If you are using the weighted system, enter the total Weight or percentage that you want the category to contribute towards the final grade. Use numeric values only (i.e. do not insert the % sign).
  5. See below to set additional options as required and click Save and Close. To create another category, click Save and New.

Hide the grade category!

We recommend hiding the grade category from the students until you want them to be able to see the results.

This can be done in the "Restrictions" tab of the category editor.

More details on hiding grade items and categories can be found elsewhere on this page.

Add the grade items!

Now that you have a grade category, be sure to add the necessary grade items to this category.

If you are using the weighted system for final grade calculation:

  • Select "Distribute weight evenly across all items"
  • Enter the "Number of highest non-bonus items to drop for each user" and/or "Number of lowest non-bonus items to drop for each user".

Note: Grades must be distributed evenly to use this option and you cannot drop bonus items.

In the example above, the 2 lowest grades in this category will be dropped for each user.

If you are using the points system for final grade calculation:

  • Select "Distribute points across all items"
  • Enter the "Number of highest non-bonus items to drop for each user" and/or "Number of lowest non-bonus items to drop for each user".

Note: Grades must be distributed evenly to use this option and you cannot drop bonus items.

To avoid student confusion, apply the settings to drop the lowest/highest grades at the end of term, after all of the grades have been entered.

Change the display setting for students (from the default settings)

Select or clear:

  • Display class average to users
  • Display grade distribution to users
  • Override display options for this item, then select or clear the additional options that display.

Allow the student's grade to exceed the category weight

If you are using the weighted system for final grade calculation:
  • Select "Allow category grade to exceed category weight"
  • Create an “Assignments” category that contains two grade items: A1 and A2. 
  • Both assignments are worth 50% of the category and can exceed the weight specified. 
  • A student receives 100% on A1 and 110% on A2. He or she receives 105% in the Assignments category.

If you are using the points system for final grade calculation:

  • Select the "Can Exceed" check box
  • Create an “Assignments” category that contains two grade items: A1 and A2. 
  • Both assignments are out of 10 points and can exceed the maximum points specified. 
  • A student receives 12/10 and 9/10 on the grade items.

Distribute the grades across the category

If you are using the weighted system for final grade calculation:

Select one of the following options:

  • Manually assign weight to items in the category: Calculating and setting item weights enables you to control the weighting of individual items that belong to a weighted category.
  • Distribute weights by points across all items in the category: Uses the points of individual, non-bonus grade items to determine the relative weighting of each item out of 100%.
  • Distribute weight evenly across all items: Gives all grade items equal weighting in the weighted category regardless of the number of points the individual item is out of.
 

If you are using the points system for final grade calculation:

  • Select "Distribute points across all items" 
  • Enter the points per item.

Exclude the category items from the final grade calculation

If you are using the weighted system for final grade calculation:
  • Enter 0% in the "Weight" field.
 

If you are using the points system for final grade calculation:

  • Select the "Exclude from Final Grade Calculation" check box.

Manage grade items and categories

  1. On the Manage Grades page, click on the name of the category or item you want to edit.
  1. Make your changes.
  2. Click Save and Close.
  1. To edit multiple grade items simultaneously, click Bulk Edit.

 


Caution: watch out for...

Note: Adjusting the maximum points for a particular grade item after scores are entered will not adjust the score data accordingly. Because of that, students may end up with incorrect grades for an item that are either higher or lower than what they actually earned. Please ensure the max points value is correct before entering score data.

Changing the weight of an item after data has been entered is fine and D2L will adjust the calculation accordingly.

IMPORTANT: Hiding and showing grade columns is for instructor view ONLY. This will NOT hide grades from students.

Instructions for hiding items from the student view can be found elsewhere on this page.

  1. On the Enter Grades page, click Hide/Show Columns from the More Actions button.
  1. Select the check box for each grade item you want to appear in your grade book.
  2. Click Save.
  1. On the Manage Grades page, click Reorder from the More Actions button.
  1. Select a new position for a category or grade item using the Sort Order drop-down list. The positions of other categories and grade items adjust accordingly.
  2. Click Save.
  1. On the Manage Grades page, click Delete from the More Actions button.
  1. Select the check box for each grade item or category want to delete.
  2. Click Delete.
  1. You will be prompted with a message that reminds you: Deleting items includes deleting all associated grades, removal from calculations, and removal from other tool associations. Consider hiding the items instead. If deleting, be sure that these are the intended grade items and that there are no associated grades that are needed. Click OK to continue.
 

To restore a deleted grade item / category

Click Event Log from the More Actions button. From there, you can restore a deleted item.