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Grade Calculation in Moodle

Grade calculations are configured on the Gradebook Setup page in the Moodle gradebook. We highly recommend organizing grade items before choosing aggregation methods so that items are in the correct category (see Create & Organize Items & Categories in the Moodle Gradebook).

Configure Grade Calculation

Grade calculations depend on how grade items and categories are arranged on the Gradebook Setup page. To configure how grades are calculated, you will first need to choose an aggregation method in the Category Settings. Once applied, aggregation methods will calculate the course total and subtotals for categories (if any).

By default, a grade category will calculate all items in that category. If a category contains a sub-category, then the sub-category total value will be used in the parent-category calculation.

To set a calculation method for a category:

  1. In the Administration block, click Grade, the Grader report page will open. Then click Setup. The Gradebook setup page will open.
  2. Locate the row that contains the title of the category. In the Actions column (at right), click Edit.  The Edit settings drop-down menu will open.
  3. Click Edit settings (Edit category icon). The Edit category page will open. 
    Note: The Edit category settings for the course total can be found in the top row of the Categories and items table.
  4. Select a calculation method from the Aggregation drop-down menu. Options include:
  5. At the bottom of the page, click Save changes. The Gradebook Setup page will open.

Aggregation Methods

To configure how grades are calculated, choose a calculation method by editing Category Settings. The three aggregation methods are described below.

Mean of Grades

What it does:

  • Calculates the average of all grade items in the category (the sum of all grades divided by the number of grade items).
  • If items in the category have point values different from the category's Max Grade, grades will be adjusted proportionately. 
  • Does not allow grade items to be marked as Extra Credit.
  • Allows categories to use Drop the lowest.

When to use it:

  • To find the average percentage of multiple items.

Custom Weights

What it does:

  • Each graded item is assigned a value (Weight) used to determine its relative importance in the overall calculation. Items with higher values will count more toward the final average. The weight does not need to be the same as the possible points for an item. If an item has a weight of "0," it will not be calculated in the total.
  • If items in the category have point values different from the category's Max Grade, grades will be adjusted proportionately.
  • Does not allow grade items to be marked as Extra Credit.
  • Allows categories to use Drop the lowest.

When to use it:

  • To work with items or categories that are each worth a different percentage of the final grade. If using this method to compute the course total, we suggest weights add up to 100.

Natural

What it does:

When to use it:

  • To see the total number of points a student has earned out of the total points possible. It is also possible to change a category total to display a percentage of points earned instead of the real numerical points. For instructions, refer to Grade Category Options in the Moodle Gradebook.

Simple Weighted Mean of Grades (Discontinued as of July 2014)

Note:

  • If your gradebook is using Simple Weighted Mean of Grades, please contact the Instructional Media Lab at instruct@umass.edu or 545-2823.

Additional Options

Additional options appear on the Gradebook Setup page depending on the aggregation methods you select. Three important options are described below.

Weight

What it does:

  • Appears only when the Custom Weights or Natural aggregation is used. This field sets the numerical weight of an item relative to other items in the same category. Items with a weight of "0" are not calculated in the category total.

When to use it:

  • To work with items or categories that are each worth a different percentage of the final grade. If using this method to compute the course total, we suggest weights add up to 100.
  • Note: When using the Natural aggregation method, the gradebook will automatically update weights to indicate a grade item's relative value compared to other items in the category. Weights can be adjusted by selecting the Weights checkbox for the item on the Gradebook Setup page, or navigating to the item's Settings page.

Extra Credit

What it does:

  • This option is only available when Natural is used as the aggregation method.
  • Items marked as extra credit are not included in the category's Max Grade. Instead, extra credit items are added to the category total after the initial calculation.
  • Weights can be adjusted for extra credit items.
  • It is possible for a student to receive a category total that is higher than the Max Grade.

When to use it:

  • To enter bonus points that will be added on top of a student's category total.

Max Grade

What it does:

  • Sets the maximum possible points that can be awarded in a category (the points required to receive 100%).

When to use it:

  • With Natural aggregation, Max Grade is calculated automatically as the sum of all grade items that are not marked as extra credit.
  • With Mean of Grades and Custom Weights, if items in the category have point values different from the Max Grade, the category will adjust grades proportionately.
  • Note: Letter grade display uses the percentage value of a category's Max Grade to calculate the numeric to letter conversion.