Moodle Gradebook FAQs

This document is designed to give relatively brief answers to frequently asked questions about setting up and using the Moodle gradebook. Answers are further linked to more detailed step-by-step explanations and examples from a sample Moodle course.

Gradebook FAQ sections:

Gradebook setup

Questions regarding the creation of categories and items, and various gradebook settings affecting grade calculations.

Gradebook appearance

Questions regarding how grades are presented and who can see what in the gradebook.

Using the gradebook

Questions regarding the manipulation of grades and calculations in the gradebook.

Gradebook setup FAQs

Can I transfer my gradebook from a previous course?

The answer here is yes, and no. Doing a full import of a course will transfer all gradebook items, both those associated with Moodle activities and manual items, as well as categories. Unfortunately, you cannot choose to import ONLY the gradebook. If you wish to import just the gradebook from a previous course, iTech can help you by setting up an empty course shell into which you can import the entire old course, and then remove all content, resulting in a course with JUST a gradebook. This course can then be completely imported/merged with a new course with content. Because of the slightly inflexible nature of this, it is best to import a gradebook before any other work on a course is done at the beginning of the semester.

Which type of Aggregation should I use for my gradebook/categories?

Moodle aggregation types can be confusing, but for the vast majority of gradebooks the Natural aggregation type will provide the type of calculation desired, including direct sum of points and weighted categories/items. Other types of aggregation are used in very specific applications. For an explanation of how each type works, see the Knowledge Base article on Moodle Aggregation Types.

How do I begin setting up my gradebook/set up gradebook categories?

The majority of gradebooks group grade items together into top-level categories (ie Homework, Quizzes, Essays, etc.). The first step in setting up your gradebook is to create these top-level categories, as well as any individual top-level items (ie Final Exam).  See Creating Moodle Gradebook Categories and Grade Items for detailed instructions on how to do this.

Once these have all been created, any weighting can be applied to them (Moodle requires all weights to equal 100%, so you can’t have just two items and set them to, say 15% and 35%, as Moodle will recalculate them to 30% and 70% respectively, to maintain a total of 100%). You can create empty categories for this reason, and populate them with grade items later.

More details and specific instructions can be found in the Knowledge Base article Setting Moodle Gradebook Category and Item Weights.

What do I do with Moodle activities that I don’t want included in the final grade?

Moodle activities are set up by default to appear in the top-level of the gradebook (the "course" category). Most activities will allow you to set the Grade type to “None” in the activity settings (see the article Setting Activity Grade Type). In the case of Moodle quizzes which cannot be set to “None” or for activities where you wish students to see their grade, but not have it included in the final grade, you can create a separate gradebook category for non-graded activities and set the weight for that category to zero. See the links above in setting up the gradebook on how to create categories and set weights.

How do I change the weight or percentage that an item or category has in the final grade?

In most cases, gradebooks contain grade items that need to be calculated as contributing a certain amount to the final grade, i.e. not every point earned in the course is equal. Most gradebooks will accomplish this through adjusting weights in the Natural aggregation type, but similar results can be produced by other types, and adjustments are made in the same way as described in the Knowledge Base article on Setting Moodle Gradebook Category and Item Weights.

How do I create or move my grade items or activities into the correct category?

Grade items created through Moodle activities and those manually created in the gradebook can be placed into categories at the time that they are created, or moved to the correct category after creation. Moving can be accomplished by checking the box next to an item in the Gradebook setup page and selecting Move to at the bottom of the page. See the article on Setting Moodle Grade Item Categories in the Knowledge Base for detailed instructions.

How do I create an Extra Credit item or category?

Moodle allows for the creation of individual items and categories that only add to the total of the category or final grade. The details for this differ with the aggregation type used. For detailed information on how to designate these as extra credit, and how to properly weight their contribution, see the Moodle Extra Credit Items and Categories article in the Knowledge Base.

Gradebook appearance FAQs

How do I set the visibility of the gradebook to show or hide it from students?

The gradebook visibility is set on the overall course settings page. Hiding the gradebook there will completely remove the “Grades” item from the left-hand course menu. Specific instructions can be found in this article.

How do I show percentages vs. points?

Every grade item and category in the gradebook can be individually set to show either a) points/scale grade, b) percentage, c) letter grade, or any two of these together. Scale grades (i.e. Pass/Fail) are converted to points for calculating percentage or letter grade. The default in Moodle is to show points/scale or “Real” grade. Choosing to edit the settings from the Gradebook setup page will allow you to expand the Grade item or Category total section to change the display type. View the Setting Grade Item and Category Total Display Type in the Moodle Gradebook article for detailed information.

How do I see how the gradebook appears to students?

There are three ways to get an idea of how grades will appear to students. The first of these is to switch your role in Moodle to Student. After doing so, you will not be able to see the Grader report, but clicking on Grades will show you the User report. Generally, this will show what items and categories are visible, but will not have any scores/grades to show, and therefore no calculations.

A second way is to simply choose the User report from the tabs on the gradebook page. Initially, this will show all grade items and categories in the User report list format. However, once you choose an individual student, or All users, you will see only what each student will see, as long as View report as is set to User. This is quite useful in showing current grades as they appear to students, but only once they have been assigned. Detailed instructions are available in the User report Knowledge Base article.

The third, and most flexible, way to view and test out the gradebook is to use the DemoStudent feature of Moodle. This allows you to create a functioning student in your course that you can log in as, and you can complete quizzes, assignments and other activities and have those scores reported in the gradebook. This allows you to add in scores for this student and test that your gradebook is functioning as you intended, before students complete activities and see scores. The grades for the Demo Student can be viewed using the User report, or clicking on Grades from the left menu when logged in as the student. See the Demo Student article for more information on how to create and use this tool.

How do I view the gradebook for one section/group of students?

Generally, when metacourses with multiple sections are created, they are set up to allow for viewing the gradebook by section or as a whole. If this is set up, there will be a drop-down field above the First name/Surname chooser, where you can choose to view all participants or just one group. If you have created groups in a non-metacourse, or this field does not appear, you can change this by going into the general course settings and selecting Separate groups for Group mode in the Groups section. For more information see the Creating and Managing Moodle Groups


How do I hide or show grades / Why aren’t my grades showing?

Setting visibility of individual grades or categories in the gradebook can be a tricky task, as the visibility is controlled by a number of settings in different places.If the gradebook itself is not visible to students, see the information above in How do I set the visibility of the gradebook to show or hide it from students?. The simplest way to control visibility is from the Gradebook setup page, by clicking on Edit to the far right of an item or category and selecting Hide or Show next to the eye icon. Specific instructions can be found in Hiding and Showing Grades in the Moodle Gradebook.

This may not, however, work, if other settings are in place. One conflicting factor is if the activity associated with the grade item has itself been hidden from students. Hiding an activity will automatically hide its grade from students in the gradebook. Once this has been done, it is possible to change that setting to Show from the gradebook setup page, but if the activity has not been shown on the course page, it will remain hidden in the gradebook. See Hide or Restrict Access to Moodle Activities for detailed instructions on showing a hidden activity.

For quizzes, the option to show or hide is not available from the Gradebook setup page, instead, visibility is controlled by the more complex quiz settings, which are detailed in the Grayed Out Quizzes in the Gradebook article.

There are two other situations where grades may not appear in the gradebook when you expect them to. One is when the grade item has been locked from the grade item settings page. Locking prevents any automatic reporting of grades to the gradebook. If this has been turned on, the grade item will appear in the gradebook, but it won't be filled with grades until the lock has been removed. For more information, see the section on locking grades in Hiding and Showing Grades in the Moodle Gradebook.

The other situation can arise if Marking workflow has been turned on in the Grades section of an Assignment. This function allows for grading by multiple instructors, with the opportunity to review grades before releasing them to the gradebook. If this has been enabled for an Assignment, and the work has been graded, but not marked as Released, then it will not appear in the gradebook. For more information, see the Moodle documentation on Marking Workflow.

One final note about hiding grades. If a grade has been hidden, but the Course grade setting for totals with hidden items is set to Show totals including hidden items, it may be possible for the student to determine the value of the hidden grade (particularly in the situation where it is the only value in a category, in which case the total will be the value of the hidden item). For this reason the default, recommended value is Show totals excluding hidden items. Additionally, if this setting has been set to Show hidden, then hidden items will appear in the gradebook, although they will appear in a different color font, indicating that they are set to be hidden, but are still being shown. For more information on totals and hidden items, see Showing Totals in Moodle Gradebook.

Using the gradebook FAQs

How do I override a grade or remove an overridden grade?

Many activities will report grades directly to the gradebook, either calculated from the results of a quiz or a workshop, or from manually graded items such as an assignment. If you have cause to modify one of these grades, it can be done directly from the Grader report view by clicking on the appropriate cell and entering the value. Once this has been done, the cell will be highlighted to indicate that the activity grade has been replaced in the gradebook.

If a grade has been overridden in error, or if you simply wish to revert to the automatically reported grade, click on the pencil icon next to the grade item’s title and uncheck the box after the student’s name in the Override column and save. Multiple grades can be reverted by clicking on None at the top of the column. It is also possible to bulk enter the same grade from this page, either replacing all empty grades or all grades with the same value. See Modifying Grades and Overrides in Moodle for specific instructions.

How do I deal with empty grades?

In order to provide students with an accurate report of their grades at any point in the semester, it is advised to set each category to Exclude empty grades when calculating totals. This will cause Moodle to only calculate grades based on grade items/activities currently completed and graded (including those graded with a zero). When doing this it is important to remember that any missing grades will need to be filled with a zero, or this setting will need to be changed prior to calculating final or mid-term grades. Bulk insertion of zeroes for a grade item can be accomplished as explained above in grade overrides. More information can be found in the Knowledge Base article on Empty Grades.

How does Moodle calculate category/course totals?

Moodle offers four varying aggregation types, each of which has slight differences in how it calculates a category total (the overall course grade is just the top-most category). Of these, the recommended, and default, aggregation type is Natural. Natural aggregation will by default simply sum up earned points and divide that by the total possible points. However, it also allows you to override the weight automatically assigned to an item or category (that weight equals the number of points possible for that item divided by the total possible points in the category, shown as a percentage). This can be done to make two items with differing points contribute equally to the total, or vice versa.

The other aggregation types are useful in very specific situations, where Natural grading can’t provide the calculation you need. One example is for the use of scaled grades, such as a Pass/Fail grade. Natural aggregation treats scale grades as starting at 1, as opposed to 0. For this reason, if you have grades where you wish the lowest scale value to be represented as 0, you would want to use Simple weighted mean of grades for that category. A complete explanation of aggregation types can be found in the Moodle Gradebook Aggregation article.

How do I view category totals?

There are two answers to this question, which are dependent on the view of the gradebook. If you are viewing the Grader report, the default is to show the totals for each category. If this is the case, you will see a “—” next to the name of the category, listed above the first category item. If you are not seeing the totals for a category, the view has likely been changed. This is done by clicking on the symbol next to the category title. One click on the “—”, or full view, will toggle that category to total-only view, designated by a “+”. Clicking on the “+” will toggle to items-only view, without the total, designated by a box symbol, “𑂽”. To return to the full view with totals, click on the box symbol.

When in full category view, the Grader report will always show totals, regardless of their visibility settings in the Gradebook setup. However, the User report will only display category totals (when viewing an individual student’s grades), when certain settings are chosen. To control the visibility of the total line for each category, click on Edit next to the category total (the item, by default at the bottom of a list, with “total” following the category name), and select “Hide” or “Show” to toggle the visibility to students. When hidden, the total will appear in the Gradebook setup in a different font color to indicate that it is not visible. As long as the Course grade setting for hidden items isn’t set to “Show hidden,” the category total line will not be displayed when set to “Hidden.”

It is also possible to have the category total line displayed, but no values shown to students. This is the case when the category total is set to “Show,” but the category contains hidden grade items, and the Course grade setting for “Hide totals if they contain hidden items” is set to “Hide.” In this case, totals can be made visible by choosing one of the other options, selecting to either include or exclude the hidden grade items in the displayed category total.

How can I add points to all grades?

If you decide to modify all students' grades, either to add a set number of points to each grade for a grade item, or to curve grades by changing the maximum points, you can do this through the grade item’s settings page. After choosing Edit settings from the drop down menu next to the item’s name on the Gradebook setup page, expanding the Grade item section will allow you to enter a number of additional points to add to each score in the Offset column. See the article on Modifying Grades and Overrides in Moodle for detailed information.

How do I allow for extra credit or optional questions in a quiz?

Moodle quizzes are quite versatile, but if you wish to add one or more extra credit items, or if you wish to have students choose to answer a specific number of items from amongst several possibilities, then Moodle requires a slightly tricky calculation to make this work. Because Moodle will consider all items in a quiz required, to prevent incomplete optional items from counting against the student, the total possible points for the quiz must be first reduced from the sum of individual points, subtracting the value of the extra credit or optional items. This will cause Moodle to scale the value of each item so that their sum matches the new total. To complete the adjustment, the grade for the quiz must be altered through the grade item setting in the gradebook, expanding the Show more section under Grade item, and entering the value obtained by dividing the original total points (with optional items) by the adjusted total (without optional items) in the Multiplicator field (this will be a value greater than 1). Due to the somewhat complex nature of these steps you may wish to review the detailed instructions in the article, Creating a Test or Quiz with Optional or Extra Credit Questions.



Article ID: 142474
Tue 4/5/22 4:40 PM
Tue 7/26/22 3:37 PM