Engrade term end anatomy of student grade

At the end of the term many students want to know how they earned the grade that they received in a course. Engrade provides detailed information on a student's marks in the Grade Details view.


The Grades Detail view, however, does not includes scores from Engrade quizzes. These can be viewed however by clicking on the "Print" button in the upper right corner.


The print tab also provides a venue to do a more detailed forensic analysis of a student's grade. While the Grade Details view cannot be copied and pasted in a meaningful way into a spreadsheet, carefully selecting the table below the second row in the print tab does generate a table that can be copied and pasted into a spreadsheet for further analysis.


In the spreadsheet above I have re-ordered the data by date. The data being used is for a different student than the first two images. An additional column that reflects the actual possible was added. Note that if a grade is left blank (null) in Engrade, then Engrade does not count that assignment in the total possible. This is not reflected in the print tab table, thus a column has to be added and manually massaged to reflect the actual total possible the student faced.

If one wants an assignment that was not done to count against the student, then one has to enter an "M" for missing. If the assignment was done so poorly that the actual score was a zero, then enter the number zero. M and zero (0) are effectively the same thing to Engrade in calculational terms, but the two have very different meanings to the student.

With that additional column reflecting the actual total possible, then a cumulative average can be generated using a pair of SUM functions and mixed addressing, for example in row four:
=SUM(C$2:C4)/SUM(E$2:E4).

Plotting this shows the trajectory of the student's cumulative average during the term.

For a course based in points, the cumulative grade trajectory can help a student understand how they performed during the course of 16 week term. Physical science includes homework, quizzes, tests, laboratory reports, results from a hide and seek quest, and other dissimilar activities. While marking purely on student learning outcomes attained would generate binary competent/not competent results, the course remains sufficiently complex as to make it difficult to value all assignments in this manner. A point based system is familiar to the students and a fairly well understood system within academia.

I once ran a course purely on student learning outcomes. "Students will be able to do..." Binary. Either the capability was evidence or the capability was not. The whole course was binary, a student had to attain all of the course learning outcomes to pass. And that is all that there was: pass or fail. A or F. 4.0 or 0.0. No shades of gray. I remember how upset students got late in the term when they failed to attain a particular student learning outcome. "I had straight A's every week for the past 12 week, why do I have an F this week? How is that possible?" "Well," I would respond, "You didn't achieve the student learning outcome for this section of the material." From hero to zero in a single student learning outcome.

Students tend to think in terms of a body of work accumulated, and points reflect this well. Points, however, can generate their own tyranny - that of the inertia of a grade late in the term. In the following chart the above line chart is replotted with the radius of the circle proportional to the cumulative points at that point in the term. The chart is the same chart, but the data points convey the growing inertia of the mass of points gained.


This chart may assist in conveying the difficulty of moving a point-based grade late in the term, a forensic picture of how the student collapsed academically after midterm and failed to recover before irrecoverable damage was done to their average.

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