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CougarVIEW Guide: Grades Tool

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The Grades tool allows you to enter assignment grades, track a student's progress, and calculate final grades. You can set up gradebook to calculate final grades based on points or with assignments as percentages of the final grade. Students can access the Grades tool to see all their grades in one place.

How to Access the Grades Tool

To access the Grades tool, click on Assessments menu and click on Grades from the drop down menu under Assessments from the course home.

Click on grades from the drop down menu under Assessments

In this guide you will learn how to:

  1. Run the Setup Wizard
  2. Create Grade Items and Categories
  3. Enter Grades
  4. View Grade Statistics
  5. Calculate Final Grades
  6. Create a Grade Scheme

Run the Setup Wizard


Running the Setup Wizard

The Grades Setup Wizard will allow you to set up how the final grade will be calculated and how the Grades tool will display to you and your students.

  1.  In the Grades tool, click Setup Wizard (Figure 1).
    Grades Setup Wizard - Figure 1
    Figure 1
  2. Click Start
  3. Choose a Grading System (Figure 2)
    Choose Grading System - Figure 2
    Figure 2

    • Weighted allows you to select what percentage a particular grade item or category makes up of the final grade; e.g., Quizzes are 20 percent of final grade.
    • Points calculate the final grade by dividing the total points earned by the total points possible.
    • Formula allows you to create a more complicated grading calculation,
  4. Click Continue.
  5. Select a final grade release option (Figure 3):
    Final Grade Released - Figure 3
    Figure 3

    • Select Calculated Final Grade to calculate final grade based strictly on the grading formula you have set up
    • Select Adjusted Final Grade if you want to be able to manually modify or adjust a student's grade before releasing it to the student.
  6. Click Continue.
  7. Select whether items that do not have a grade are omitted from the final grade calculation or counted as a 0 (Figure 4).
    Grade Calculations - Figure 4
    Figure 4

    Note: If you select "Treat ungraded items as 0" and show the final grade to students, their final grade will appear lower due to grade items on assignments that are due later in the semester. However, if you select "Drop Ungraded Items", you must remember to mark unsubmitted past-due assignments as "0", or they will not count against the student.

  8. Select the "Automatically keep grade updated" checkbox if you want students' final grade to update automatically when you enter grades.
  9. Click Continue.
  10. Select your default grade scheme for new grade items. This can be manually changed in the individual grade items.

     The Grade Scheme is how your grades appear to students. By default, they appear as percentages, but you can create your own grade scheme to assign letter grades. See the "Creating a Grade Scheme" section below.

  11. Click Continue.
  12. Enter the number of decimal places to display in calculated grades
  13. Click Continue.
  14. Modify the "Student View Display Options." This is what students see when they click Grades in the navbar (Figure  5).
    Student View Display options - Figure 5
    Figure 5
  15. Click Continue
  16. Click Finish to save (Figure 6).
    Grade Setup Summary - Figure 6
    Figure 6

     To change any of these settings, simply restart the wizard and change the appropriate options.

Creating Grade Items

Create a Grade Category

Grade categories allow you to keep your gradebook organized and to set a number of points or a percentage of the final grade. For example, you could create a quizzes category and set it to be worth 30 percent of the final grade. You can also use grade categories to drop the lowest score(s) in that category from a grade calculation.


  1. In the Grades tool, click Manage Grades (Figure 7).
    Click Manage Grades - Figure 7
    Figure 7

  2. Click the "New" blue dropdown menu and select Category.
  3. Enter a name (required) and a short name (optional).

    Note: Short names are displayed in the "Enter Grades" screen and are a good way to keep the grades table from getting too wide to navigate.

  4. Select grading calculation options.
    • If you are using a weighted grade system, enter the percentage the category makes up of the final grade in the "Weight" field (Figure 8).

      Enter Grade weight - Figure 8
      Figure 8

    • Select Allow category grade to exceed category weight if you plan on having extra credit within the category that you want to count towards the final grade if the student exceeds 100 percent credit in the category.

    • Select Distribute weights by points across all items in the category to automatically set the weight of grade items in the category by the total points possible in all grade items in the category.

    • Select Distribute weight/points evenly across all items to make each grade item in the category worth the same amount. If you have a points- based system, enter the number of points each item in the category should have in the "points per item" field.

      Note: You must select Distribute weight/points evenly across all items to drop the lowest score(s) in a category.

    • To drop the lowest grade(s) in the category, enter the number of assignments to drop in the "Number of lowest non-bonus items to drop for each user" (Figure 9).

      Distribute weights evenly - Figure 9
      Figure 9

  5. Click Save and Close.


Create a Grade Item

There are two ways to create grade items. You
can use the instructions in this section to create
grade items from within the Grades tool or within the corresponding assessment folder, quiz, or discussion topic. See the guides for those tools for instructions on creating grade items within the tool.

  1. In the Grades tool, click Manage Grades in the left-hand menu (Figure 10).

    Manage Grades - Figure 10
    Figure 10

  2. Click the "New" blue dropdown menu and select Item.
  3. Select a grade item type based on how you will input grades. Select "Numeric" to input a point score or "Selectbox" to select grades from a grade scheme.

    Note: You must have a grade scheme to choose Selectbox. See the "Creating a Grade Scheme" section below. The choice you select only controls how you input grades—not how students see them.

  4. Enter a name (required) and a short name (optional) for your grade item.
  5. If you have a category set up for this grade item, select it in the categories dropdown menu. Some fields on the screen may be automatically filled in based on your category settings.
  6. Fill out the "Grading" options.
    • Enter the number of max points, if applicable.
      Select "Can exceed" to allow extra credit on the assignment.
    • Select "Bonus" if it is an extra credit assignment.
    • Select "Exclude from Final Grade Calculation" to have this item not count towards the final grade.
    • Select a grade scheme. This is how grades will display to students.
  7. Click Save and Close (Figure 11).
 Fill out grading options - Figure 11
Figure 11

Entering Grades

Using the Grades tool, you can see, enter, and modify all grades for all students in the course on one screen. You can also grade students by grade item, category, student, or final grade.

Note: You can also grade quizzes, assessments folders, and discussion topics from within those tools, allowing you to see the student work and grade on the same screen. If an assignment has an associated grade item, grades you enter in these tools will automatically transfer into the Grades area.

Enter Grades Using the Spreadsheet View

The spreadsheet view enables you to enter and modify grades for all students and all assignments on one screen. However, this view will not allow you to leave students feedback on assignments. 

  1. In the Grades tool, click Enter Grades (Figure 12).
    Enter Grades - Figure 12
    Figure 12

  2. On the right side of the page, click Switch to Spreadsheet View (Figure 13).
    Switch to spreadsheet view - Figure 13
    Figure 13

  3. Enter grades in the input fields in the grade spreadsheet (Figure 14).
    Enter Grades - Figure 14
    Figure 14

  4. Click Save.

Enter Grades by Student

  1. In the Grades tool, click Enter Grades.
  2. Click the name of the student you wish to enter grades for (Figure 15).
    Click name of student - Figure 15
    Figure 15

  3. Enter grades for the student in the Grade fields for the appropriate grade items.
  4. Click Show Comments to add "Feedback," which your students can see.
  5. Click Save.
  6. Next to the student's name there is a dropdown arrow. Click it and select Preview to see a display view of the student's grades. This is what the student will see when he or she clicks Grades in the top navbar.
  7. Click Event Log from the dropdown arrow to see the history of grade changes for this student.

Enter Grades by Category

  1. Click the dropdown arrow next to the category you'd like to grade and select Grade All (Figure 16).
    Select Grade All - Figure 16
    Figure 16

  2. Enter grades in the "Grade" fields.
  3. Click Enter Comments if you want to add comments on a student's performance.
  4. Click Save.

Enter Grades by Grade Item

  1. Click the dropdown arrow next to the grade item and select Grade All (Figure 17).
    Select Grade All - Figure 17
    Figure 17

  2. Enter grades in the "Grade" fields.
  3. If you want to add comments on a user's performance, click Enter Comments.

View event log

Next to the Grade Item name, click the dropdown arrow and select Event Log to see the history of grade changes for this grade item (Figure 18).

Note: Clicking the event log icon to the right of the student's name will show only grade changes for that student.

Select event log - Figure 18
Figure 18

Viewing Grade Statistics

You can access a statistics page for individual grade items, for grade categories, or for the final grade from the main grades spreadsheet. The statistics page shows the class average, the minimum grade, the maximum grade, and a graph of the distribution of grades.
Click the dropdown arrow next to the name of the grade item or category or within the "Final Grade" column and select Statistics to see the appropriate grade statistics (Figure 19).

Select statistics - Figure 19
Figure 19

Calculating Final Grades

The "Final Grades" page lists the Final Calculated Grade for each student. If, in the setup wizard, you did not select "Automatically Keep Final Grades Updated" you must manually recalculate the final grade.
You can also adjust final grades and release them to students, depending on how you set up your gradebook in the setup wizard.

  1. Click the dropdown arrow and select Grade All for Final Grades on the main spreadsheet (Figure20).
    Figure 20
    Figure 20
  2. Select all students or individually and click Recalculate (Figure 21).
    Click Recalculate - Figure 21
    Figure 21
  3. In the pop-up dialog box, select the quizzes you wish to recalculate from and click calculate.
  4. Click Calculate again.
  5. Click Yes to confirm you want to overwrite the existing calculated final grade.
  6. If you are using Final Adjusted Grades, enter the student's final grade in the "Final Adjusted Grade" column:
    • If you want to accept the Final Calculated Grade as the final grade, click the green transfer icon.
    • If you want a student's grade to be different from the Final Calculated Grade, enter the adjusted grade in the Final Adjusted Grade field.

Create a Grade Scheme

Grade Schemes allow you to display grades to students as a letter grade or another kind of custom-defined symbol.

  1. From anywhere in the grades tool, click Grade Schemes (Figure 22).
    Click Grade Schemes - Figure 22
    Figure 22
  2. Click New Scheme.
  3. In the "Name" text box, enter a name for the grade scheme.
  4. In the first row "Symbol" text box, enter the lowest letter grade that can be earned.
  5. In the second row "Symbol" text box, enter the next lowest letter grade that can be earned.
  6. In the second row "Start %" text box, enter the lowest possible percentage that will earn this letter grade (Figure 23).
    Enter Ranges - Figure 23
    Figure 23
    • If this grade scheme will be used for a selectbox grade item, in the "Assigned Value %" text box, enter a value for this letter grade. When you grade the student using the selectbox, the Assigned Value % is the numeric value Desire2Learn will use to calculate final grades.
    • Repeat steps 5-6 for each grade range.

      Note: To add additional grade ranges, enter the number of additional ranges in the "Add Ranges" text block and click Add

  7. After you have entered all of the grade ranges, click Save.