First-Year Experience
Georgia Southern University

Folio Grade Book

From choosing between a weighted or point-based grade book to deciding how to treat ungraded items, Folio’s grade book has many setup options that make it easy for faculty to grade FYE 1220 assessments and easy for students to figure out their grades.  In the template we loaded into your section, however, we had to make some initial setup decisions.  Read below for information on grade book defaults and setup options.  If you come to one of the customization sessions, we’ll cover what’s mentioned below.  The CATS handouts site can be a big help to those of you comfortable exploring on your own.

Points vs. Weighted
There are two grade book options in Folio: points and weighted. A weighted grade book typically uses a standard point value for each assignment (often 100). Some grades are worth more than others based not on how many points they are “out of” but based on their weights. Folio allows two levels of weighting, a “category” and an “item” level. The categories must sum to 100%, and the items within each category must also sum to 100%. Because FYE 1220 is divided into two parts, we’ve used the category level to distinguish between the two components: EO (worth 25%) and Seminar (worth 75%). Within each category are grade book items. A points system holds the value of a point constant throughout the entire course. Some grades are worth more than others because they are “out of” more points. The categories only serve to divide the grade book up for ease of reference.  They don’t play a role in calculating the grade.  For FYE 1220, faculty must ensure that the percentage breakdown between EO and Seminar is preserved. For example, if a course were out of 400 points, then 300 would be allocated to Seminar and 100 to EO.It’s essential for instructors teaching split sections to come to an agreement about which type of grade book to use in Folio, as the grade book is shared.
Why We Chose the Weighted Grade Book as a Default

The template uses the weighted grade book for the following reasons:

  • It easily distinguishes the percentage breakdown between extended orientation and seminar, making it easier for your students to calculate final FYE 1220 grades. Much like the course itself, the weighted grade book in FYE 1220 assigns percentages to two categories: 25% to extended orientation and 75% to seminar.
  • Assigning percentages means that every assignment under either category can be worth 100 points, but the assignments are worth different weights. Having assignments worth 100 points makes it easier for students to understand what their performance means (for example, they understand a 60 on a 100 point scale is a low D, but they may not as quickly understand that a 3 out of 5 is the same thing).
  • By default, the rubrics for each assignment are out of 100 points. Switching to a points-based grade book would mean altering the rubrics to reflect the associated point value (for example, if you wanted an assignment to be worth five points, you would have to change each of the criteria point values to total to five).
Weighted Customization Requirements: Recommended

Should you use the weighted grade book (which we load by default), you may wish to make adjustments to the weights. In some cases, you’ll need to. The items under each category must total 100. By default, the Extended Orientation category does this, but the Seminar category does not (Why the difference?  Historically, Seminar faculty tend to use more of their own content, where EO faculty can and often do cover all the outcomes with the content we load). Therefore, as an EO instructor, you could choose to keep the weights exactly where they are (if you are assigning each of the modules and you want to keep the same weights). If you are teaching the Seminar, you’ll need to add your own items and potentially change the weights to get the category to total 100. If either category totals to over or under 100, you’ll get an error message at the top of the Manage Grades page (click the picture below for an example).

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When you are ready to enter each assignment’s weight into Folio, go to Grades. Then, check the box beside Bulk Edit, and click Bulk Edit. Type in the weight for each assignment, and then click save.

It is possible to create new categories other than Extended Orientation and Seminar, and it’s fine to do so as long as EO remains 25% of the total.

Note: students see different weights than what you see. When students see their grades, the weight students see is the percentage of the overall course grade, not the weight in a given category. For example, compare and contrast the faculty view of the grade book (above) to the student view (below).

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If you look at the Remembering the Future grade, you’ll notice that the faculty view has Remembering the Future weighted as 16, while the student sees it as 4. This is because Folio does the math for the student and only shows how much that assignment is worth towards the overall course grade. Specifically, it multiplies the faculty weight (16) times the category weight (25%) to get 4. If you want to check what students see, simply view the course as a student would on your course homepage. Click here for directions how.

The fact that students see a different weighting than what you enter has implications for how you display your grades in your syllabus. Especially if you are teaching the entire course, we find that it’s best to make your syllabus mirror what students will see in Folio (not the weights you’ll enter as a faculty member). This is how our sample syllabi are set up for the full course. We think this is less important if you are teaching only one component when the divisions between the course are more formalized. The sample EO syllabus bases percentages off the EO portion only.

Points Customization Requirements: Not recommended

While FYE does not recommend using the points-based grade book if using FYE-created content, if you choose to have a points-based grade book, you’ll need to take the following steps:

  • Go to Grades – Settings – Calculation options and then select Points. Then, click save.  See below:

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  • Calculate how much each assignment will be worth towards your final course grade. It’s important to note that switching to a points grade book will not remove the categories; you’ll need to make sure all assignments under the extended orientation category total to 25 percent and all assignments under the seminar portion total to 75 percent.
  • When you are ready to enter what each assignment is worth into Folio, go to Grades. Then check the box beside Bulk Edit, and click Bulk Edit. Type in the point values for each assignment, and then click save.
  • Make alterations to the FYE-built rubrics if you decide to use them. By default, the rubrics are out of 100; you would need to adjust the criteria points so that they total to the new point value for each assessment.
Must Make Most Grade Items Visible
As a reminder, only the Your Academic Future item on the EO side and the Final Exam on the Seminar side (the two mandatory grade items) are visible to students initially. You’ll need to make the rest that you choose to use visible. For directions how, click here.
How You Treat Ungraded Items

One issue that may be the most significant for students is how ungraded items are treated. We opted for treating ungraded items as zero. The big plus here is that faculty don’t have to manually enter grades for students who don’t complete assignments. Folio just calculates a zero. From a student perspective, the grade book always displays the percentage of the final grade that each assignment is worth. Therefore, it probably mirrors your syllabus more closely. Click below to see an example.

Folio ungraded items zero no comment

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The downside is that students can’t easily see if they have missed an assignment and have actually earned a zero. When faculty drop ungraded items instead of treating them as zero, this becomes much clearer for students. It also makes it easier for students to compute their grade as the course progresses (although if you choose, you can set your course to automatically keep grades updated and to publish this information; see below). The main downside of dropping ungraded items is that this method requires faculty to manually enter grades of zero. It also doesn’t display the weighting of a grade book item that hasn’t been graded yet. Please see below for an example. Although we went with the “treat as zeros” option for the template, “drop ungraded items”  is the format that several of us in FYE use. If you prefer this format, you can easily change the settings in step 3 of the Grades Setup Wizard or through the “Calculation Options” tab in the Grades Settings link.

Folio ungraded items dropped no comment

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If you choose to stay with the settings you uploaded into your course, you can make it clearer for your students by entering a comment whenever a student earned a zero. If the student missed the assignment completely, you might simply enter “missed assignment” as a comment. See below and note the difference from the first image, above.

Folio ungraded items zero comment added

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Keeping a Running Average for Your Students

The template sets calculation options to release the final grade to students as an adjusted grade so that faculty can make final changes. Our sense is that many faculty tweak final scores in certain circumstances, and for this reason, that setting is best. However, if you’d like to provide students with a “running average” as the course progresses, you can do so by temporarily changing settings to a calculated final grade. The instructions for doing so are outlined on this Folio handout. See below for a screen shot.

Folio ungraded items zero running average

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Last updated: 8/6/2014

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