Determining a Grading System for Your Course
Before setting up a grading system or grade book, consider the following:
What assignments, quizzes, exams, etc., do I plan to use to evaluate my students, and how much will each item be worth?
In answering this question, you might be wondering whether a Points-Based or Percentage-Based grading system is appropriate. Let's see how they compare.
Points-Based versus Percentage-Based Grading Systems
Points-BasedIn a points-based system, each assignment, quiz, etc., is given a point value. The final grade is determined by adding up all the points earned and comparing it to a grading standard.
Percentage-BasedA percentage-based system groups all assignments, quizzes, etc., into "categories" and assigns a percentage or weight to each category. The sum of all the categories will be 100%.
- While each assignment may be assigned a point value, the final grade is based on the percentage or weight or the categories. For instance, even if the total number of points possible for quizzes equals 300 and the total number of points possible for homework is 100, the homework may still count more towards the final grade, if it counts for a greater percentage of the final grade.
The following instructions are for creating a grading system based on 1000 points.
A 1000 Point Grading System will take the best of both a points-based and a percentage-based system and make your grading system easy for you to use and easier for your students to understand.
- Start by determining the types of items you will be assigning. For demonstration purposes, let's
use the following example:
Graded Items Homework Quizzes Discussions Midterm Exam Research Paper Final Exam
Next, determine what percentage each type of graded item should be worth determining the overall grade
for a total of 100%.
Assignments and tests should be weighted relative to their value in the course. In other words, weigh each item according to the amount of effort and its importance to course learning outcomes. I.e., assignments requiring more effort that are important to the learning outcomes should weigh more, etc. Generally, final exams, projects or research papers count for one-third or less (33%) of the final grade.
Continuing with the above example:
Graded Items % of Final Grade Homework 20% Quizzes 30% Discussions 10% Midterm Exam 10% Research Paper 10% Final Exam 20% 100%
Next, detrmine the number of points available for each category of graded items based on the
percentage as shown below. Your overall number of points possible should add up to 1000.
Graded Items % of Final Grade Multiply by 1000 Points Homework 20% .20 x 1000 = 200 200 Quizzes 30% .30 x 1000 = 300 300 Discussions 10% .10 x 1000 = 100 100 Midterm Exam 10% .10 x 1000 = 100 100 Research Paper 10% .10 x 1000 = 100 100 Final Exam 20% .20 x 1000 = 200 200 100% 1000
To determine the number of points each individual item should be worth, divide the total
number of points for each category by the number of items assigned as illustrated below.
Graded Items # Assigned To Determine the
Number of Points
Points Each Total Points Homework 20 20 ÷ 20 = 10 10 points each 200 Quizzes Discussions Midterm Exam Research Paper Final Exam 1000
If you planned for 20 homework assignments, to determine the point value for each homework assignment, divide the total homework points by how many homework assignments you have. For example, you would take the 200 total homework points, divide it by the 20 homework assignments, making each homework assignment worth 10 points.
It is not necessary to divide a category equally. You can "divide" up the points however you need to. For example, if you have one homework assignment that is more time consuming than the others, you can assign it more points, as long as all the homework assignments add up to 200 points.
When you are done, your grading system will look something like this:
|Graded Items||# Assigned||Determine the
Number of Points
|Points Each||Total Points|
|Homework||20||200 ÷ 20 = 10||10 points each||200|
|Quizzes||6||300 ÷ 6 = 50||50 points each||200|
|Discussions||5||100 ÷ 5 = 20||20 points each||100|
|Midterm Exam||1||100 ÷ 1 = 100||100 points Exam||100|
|Research Paper||1||100 ÷ 1 = 100||100 points Paper||100|
|Final Exam||1||200 ÷ 1 = 200||200 points Final||200|
At the beginning of the semester, it is imperative that your students are aware
of your grading system, perhaps via your syllabus. The following is an example of a
1000 points grading system matched against the standard numerical scale used at LCC:
|Homework (20 at 10 points each)||200|
|Quizzes (6 at 50 points each)||300|
|Discussions (5 at 20 points each)||100|
|Midterm Exam (1 at 100 points)||100|
|Research Paper (1 at 100 points)||100|
|Final Exam (1 at 200 points)||200|
|Total Number of
Points Earned for
|Recommended Guideline for
Performance Achievement of
|905 - 1000||91% to 100%||4.0|
|855 - 904||86% to 90%||3.5|
|805 - 854||81% to 85%||3.0|
|755 - 804||76% to 80%||2.5|
|705 - 754||71% to 75%||2.0|
|655 - 704||66% to 70%||1.5|
|595 - 654||60% to 65%||1.0|
|0 - 594||0% to 59%||0.0|
Advantage of a 1000 Point Grading System:
At any point during the semester, you and your students will always know how they are doing in your course.
At any point during the semester both you and your students will be able to add up the points earned to-date, then divide by the total points possible up to that point in the course. This will determine a percentage. That percentage can then be matched against the grading scale percentages to see if the student is on track for a 3.0, or 4.0, etc. For instance, if a student has earned 415 points at mid-semester when 500 points are possible, their average is 83% (415 ÷ 500 = .83 or 83%). Based on the guidelines above, the student is currently earning a 3.0 in the course.
Developing Your Grading System Worksheet
Use the following tables to create your own 1000 point grading system.
|Types of Items||% of Final Grade||Multiply by 1000||Points|
|Ex: Homework||20%||.20 x 100 = 200||200|
|Types of Items||# Assigned||To Determine the
Number of Points
|Ex: Homework||20||200 ÷ 20 = 10||10 points each||200|
Davis, B.G. Tools for Teaching. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993. Print.
DeWitt, Rhonda Simplified Grading: The "1000 Points Grading Method." Connecticut Community Colleges: Instructional & Informational Technology Training for Faculty & Staff. Web. 24 Aug 2007.
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