Moodle offers a range of options when it comes to grading or assessing students’ work, but how does a lecturer decide on which is the best approach for their class.
Let’s look at what there is on offer, and
then consider in which scenario you might choose which.
- Simple direct grading
- Grading using a rubric
- Grading using a marking guide
- Grading using outcomes
- Assessment using learning objectives
Simple Direct Grading
This approach involves a simple way to
grade. So why might you use it? If you have a very straight forward assignment
that requires nothing more than a straightforward grade 1 to 6 with optionally
comments/feedback, then this form of grading is for you. The approach requires
no justification of how the grade is derived, and hence the concept enables a
teacher to simply award the grade either through the grading system or by quick
Grading using a Rubric or Marking Guide
I am taking both of these together since
their approaches are fairly similar.
A rubric or marking guide is a grid of
criteria that must be met in order that a certain grade is awarded. Let’s start
though with the rubric.
- The rubric allows you to form a
grid based on a scale. The grader clicks on the box in the grid that contains
the description that best suits the criteria met by the student. On the left
side the base requirements are listed whilst horizontally the degree to which
the criteria is met is stated. The grade is automatically calculated by Moodle
and entered into the gradebook as a single mark. The student can then see the
grade, and the criteria which the grader checked. Note! When you adopt the
approach, always ensure that you include a zero grade otherwise the grades may
not calculate correctly.
- The Marking guide is a similar
to the rubric, but, the grader is free to enter their own grade depending on
their own assessment of how the criteria have been met. This naturally means
that fractions of the grade can also be entered. Using this approach also
allows for frequently used feedback comments to be stored and then selected by
the grader negating the need to type them in repetitively.
It is worth noting that both approaches
allow for individual notes to be made against each criteria.
Grading using Outcomes
The above approaches are as it were
isolated. By this I mean that the comments, the criteria and grades are saved
with the assignment and might only be viewed in connection with the assignment.
Grading using outcomes makes the tracking of a students work easier and effectively
Grades can be broken down into elements
that students must achieve in order to successfully complete an assignment,
activity or course.
Teachers can view these criteria, and the
grades/comments made in a table and thereby assess to what degree a student is
taking feedback and using it.
Assessment using Learning
First of all it is worth drawing attention
to the change in wording here. We have change from grading to assessment here
and this is significant.
Assessment by Learning Objectives is
increasingly becoming an approach of favour. Rather than grading from say 1 to
6 we shift to grading from a competency table/listing. This means stating to
what degree we believe that a student has grasped a competency rather than
simply stating 4 with some feedback.
Students can seek to have a competency
assessed when they feel ready, they can ask for it to be reassessed thereby
encouraging them to strive to improve.
The approach also significantly can be
differentiated is that grades travel with the student from one course to
another thereby enabling the teacher of another course or follow on course to
see what was achieved in a previous class/course.
To adopt such an approach a student learning plan is setup and then the criteria for a given course attached to the plan.
In each activity etc. the criteria being
assessed by that activity are activated allowing the teacher to track where a
student is in the course and where they have been.
The approach does not stop a grade being
awarded to the student together with the competency, but it could also be left
In all the above approaches, there are a
raft of finer grading points that can be initiated, for example, the lecturer
can hide who marked the work, they can assign a colleague to grade the work,
they can anonymise the student being graded, they could set criteria that means
a student must achieve a set grade or criteria prior to moving on.
Essentially, Moodle is incredibly powerful
and provides you as a lecturer with a massive advantage when it comes to
tracking, supporting and grading your students.
If you want to know more about how you can exploit the power of Moodle, contact me and I’ll be only too pleased to support you.
Paul Raper MSc TESP/TESOL
MAS – E-Learning and Knowledge Management.