How to use grading with formulas

Grading formulas allow you to assess students on their score on multiple grade items. 

This article will explain how to:

Creating a grading formula

To create a grading formula for a Formula Grade item or Final Calculated Grade, open the grade item from the Manage Grades,

  1. click on [Edit Using the Formula Editor]
Edit using formula editor

This will redirect you to a Formula Editor page:

Editor

The formula editor opens in a new window. Here, you can assemble your grading formula using the editor:

  1. every equation start with an equal sign (=). This cannot be deleted
  2. the cursors can be used to move within the editor. The arrows on your physical keyboard can be used for the same purpose (note, that these functions might not work in Mozilla Firefox browser). The cursor placements options are:
    • [<<]  Move cursor to the start of the formula
    • [<]    Move cursor back one element
    • [>]    Move cursor forward one element
    • [>>]  Move cursor to the end of the formula
  3. Validate to check the formula for errors:
    • If the formula is valid, it displays the confirmation message: Formula validated successfully
    • If the formula is invalid, there will be an error message and the formula shows the item that caused the error with the fault highlighted in red
  4. Preview to preview students' grades using the current formula. If the formula is invalid, the preview option does not work
Select grade item, points received and insert

The Grade Item sections has two drop down menus,

  1. --Select a Grade Item--  to add a grade item to the formula. In the drop down menu you can select any item from you course
  2. Points Received determines the value you want to associate to the grade item:
    • Points Received: the grades achieved by students (this is the commonly used value)
    • Max Points: the maximum points available for the grade item
    • Percent: the percentage of the grade achieved by the student
  3. Insert to add grade items to the formula

The formula does not take into account category and grade item weight

Dropped grade items and bonus grade items are calculated the same way as other grade items

3. Function section

FUnction section

In the Function section,

  1. --Select a Function-- to choose from the following formulas:
    • MAX: returns the largest number in a set of grade items, i.e.: MAX{1,2,3,4,5}=5
    • MIN:  returns the smallest number in a set of grade items, i.e.: MIN{1,2,3,4,5}=1
    • SUM: returns the sum of a set of grade items, i.e.: SUM{1,2,3,4,5}=15
    • AVG:  returns the average (arithmetic mean) of a set of grade items, i.e.: AVG{1,2,3,4,5}=3
    • IF: operates as a Boolean statement. You must define the condition (Boolean statement), true value, and false value, i.e.: IF{logical_test, value_if_true, value_if_false}
      • For example: IF{[Example Grade Item. Points Received] >= 5.5, [Example Grade Item. Points Received], 0} Explanation: If the Example Grade Item is larger or equal to 5.5, the formula will return the actual value of the grade item, otherwise it will return zero (0).
    • NOT:  an addition to a Boolean statement where the output value is true when the condition is false, and false if the condition is true. Cannot be used without other functions
      • For example: NOT{[Quiz Week 1. Percent] = 10}, 0, 10}
  2. Start to start a function with an open bracket symbol, i.e.: "MAX{"
  3. Next Term to separates grade items or parts of Boolean statement with a comma ","
  4. End to end a function with a closing bracket '}'
Desktop keyboard

On the bottom right of the Formula Editor, there is a desktop keyboard that can  be used to build the formula

  • Backspace button deletes the element left of the cursor
  • Clear button deletes the entire formula
Formula editor page
Examples of grading scenarios
1. Example 1: basic calculations

Case: the course has a project grade, that consists of three practicals and a separate module. The practicals count for 80% combined, the separate module for 20%. The weights for the practicals is 50% for Practical 1, 30% for Practical 2, and 20% for Practical 3.

Case 1
2. Example 2: enforcing minimum grades

Case: the course has an exam, a tutorial, and a paper. The exam and paper need to be 5.5 minimum before passing the course. For the final grade the tutorial is 10%, the paper 50%, and the exam 40%. An additional correction can be subtracted based on student participation in the tutorial.

Case 3
  • The IF condition has been reversed here: instead of checking if the grades are above 5.5 it will check if they are below it. This is so that the code for partially completed is at the beginning of the formula, as only the final part will be edited in the future when the composition of the final grade is changed
  • A similar IF-function can be used with the MAX, where if the MAX of the set is below 5.5, a final grade will be calculated and shown with a grade below 6, as a partially completed usually indicates parts of the course -have- been finished satisfactory.
3. Example 3: Including resits and combining formula items

Case: the course consists of a written exam, project work, and a separate module. The written exam consists of 5 parts. Students can opt to take a re-sit of these parts if they want to, with the highest grade counting for the final grade. Of this, the average is calculated.

Case 3

The project is Example 1: it consists of three practicals and a separate module. The practicals count for 80% combined, the separate module for 20%. The weights for the practicals is 50% for Practical 1, 30% for Practical 2, and 20% for Practical 3.

Case 3 Example 1

Additionally, there is a check to make sure all tests individually are also a 5.0 minimum

Case 3 test

All these items are combined with an extra item that checks whether a student has a single grade between 5.0 and 5.5, which is allowed for this course. The final grade calculation is as follows:

Case 3 items combination

You now know how to use grading formulas in Brightspace!