How to assign weights to Grade Items

In most courses at York, the grading strategy is comprised of a set of assessments, each carrying their own weight towards the course total. The weight is often different than the maximum grade for an activity. For example, the midterm is marked out of 100 marks, but it weighs 15% towards the course total. 

The default grading strategy in eClass (Simple weighted mean of grades) does not calculate grades in this manner despite what its name might suggest. The grading strategy, or aggregation method, required to assign specific weights to grades must be changed to Weighted mean of grades in order for the grades to be calculated based on a specific weighted grading scheme.

Important note: it is not recommended to change the aggregation method once grades have been entered. Therefore, it is considered best practice to set up the Gradebook before you add any grades.

Changing the Aggregation Method (Grading Strategy) to Calculate Weighted Grades

You can change how grades are aggregated in the Aggregation drop-down list in the Gradebook. To do this, follow the instructions below:

  1. Click Grades in the navigation block to open the Gradebook. The Gradebook will display the Grader report on the View tab.

  2. Click Setup on the row of tabs. The Gradebook steup page appears.
  3. Click on Edit in the action column of the top level folder (usually the course name)
  4. Click on Edit Settings
  5. Click on Show more... in the Grade category to show Aggregation option.
    For more information on the other Aggregation options, please refer to the documentation on the eClass website.
  6. Select Weighted mean of grades from the Aggregation drop-down list. This sets the aggregation method for the selected category.
  7. Click  Save changes button to finalize the changes your have made.

Follow the instructions below to assign weights to assessment categories and/or activities in your course.

Assigning Weights to Grade Items

In order to assign the weights, it is important that all graded items are included in the Gradebook. Any eClass assessment activities (i.e. Assignments, quizzes, etc.) will automatically appear in the Gradebook once added to the course. If required, you can add "offline" assessments to your course such as exams, oral presentations, and participation, etc. Refer to the Adding Offline Grade Items documentation page for more information.

Once all the grade items are in your Gradebook, you can begin assigning weights to individual items. To assign corresponding weights to assessments, follow the instructions below:

  1. Click Grades in the navigation block to open the Gradebook. The Gradebook will display the Grader report on the View tab.

  2. Click Setup on the row of tabs. The Gradebook setup page appears.
  3. Be sure that Weighted mean of grades is selected at the course level.The Weight column appears with an entry field for each item in the category.
  4. Enter the corresponding percentage weight values for each item in the Weight column.

    Ensure your weights add up to 100. If the weight category does not add up to 100, the grade displayed will not be accurate.

  5. Click Save changes.

Assigning Weights to Categories in the Gradebook

It is possible to organize your Gradebook into categories. For example, you may have categories for Quizzes, Assignments and/or Discussions Forums. When you change the course grade aggregation method to Weighted mean of grades, there is a box in the Weight column to assign weights to individual categories. For example, Quizzes might be worth 30% of the course total regardless of how many quizzes are given.

If you choose to use categories, it is important to choose the appropriate aggregation method to calculate the total for each category, so that your grades are calculated in the way you intend. The figure below depicts a Gradebook with categories for Assignments and Quizzes. The Assignments category is configured to aggregate using the Weighted mean of grades method while the Quizzes category is configured to aggregate using Simple weighted mean of grades.

Refer below for an explanation of the difference between the two most common aggregation methods to determine which best suits your needs.

Using Weighted Mean of Grades to Calculate a Category Total

Typically, there are pre-determined weights for every grade item in a category, as specified by the instructor at the beginning of the term in the course assessment breakdown. Therefore, Weighted mean of grades is the most suitable aggregation method for categories under most circumstances.

If Weighted mean of grades is selected, boxes appear in the Weight column, where instructors can specify the weight for each item.

The sum of the weights for individual grade items in a category must equal the category weight. For example, if the Category weight is 20 as above, the four items in the category must add up to 20. In the example above, we can see that:

5 + 5 + 5 + 5 = 20

Using Simple Weighted Mean of Grades to Calculate a Category Total

The Simple weighted mean of grades aggregation method will calculate the category totals giving more weight to items that have higher maximum grades and less weight to those with lower maximum grades. For example, a quiz out of 40 points will be worth more than a quiz worth 30 points.

In broad terms, eClass calculates the total by taking the sum of points earned for each of the items in the category divided by the sum of the maximum grades for the category. This number is then multiplied by 100 to make it a percentage. Finally, it is converted to give a grade based on the weight specified for the category.

The Simple weighted mean of grade aggregation method would be particularly advantageous to students who receive high scores (compared to other grades in the category) on grade items with a high maximum mark, and disadvantageous to students who receive low scores on these items since they carry a bigger weight in the calculation.

Consider the following example:

There are three quizzes in the Quizzes category each with different maximum grades. A student receives the following results for the three quizzes: 13/20, 28/30 and 20/25. The following is the calculation for the category total using the Simple weighted means of grades aggregation method.

Here is the same calculation using Weighted mean of grades, where each quiz is worth 5%.


Notice that, although the difference is only 0.3 out of 15, this difference in percentage is nearly 2%, which would mean a larger discrepancy in categories weighted higher.

Also note that the bigger the range of the maximum marks of items in a category, the likelier the potential for a greater difference between the two calculations.

The Gradebook can accommodate many different grading schemes. However, organizing and planning the calculation is critically important to ensure accurate grades are displayed to students.

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