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Best Practices for the Online Gradebook

The Gradebook is brand new! But as instructors start using it, best practices will emerge — and we will add them to this page over time. Please check back!

How do I deal with late homework?

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Learn more: Late Homework Policy

why does this matter?

Many instructors have long been in the habit of having students post late assignments in a separate “Late Homework” topic. With the new Gradebook, this practice must change.

If you accept late work from your students, they must post it in the original assignment topic — not in a late homework topic and not in the Instructor’s Office and not in your Mailbox. (This keeps all the work for an assignment in the same place.) You must post their grade in that original topic. Otherwise, the online learning system will not be able to factor the grade into its calculations.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Please delete any existing Late Homework topics that you have created. (Go to the Global Topics page to delete these topics.)
  • To allow students to submit their late work, you must reopen the assignment topic — that is, you need to (1) edit the relevant topic and (2) extend its close date so that students can post.

Reminder: When a student posts work after the due date but before the closing date, the system automatically flags their post with a red “LATE” marker. So be sure that you extend only the closing date and NOT the due date, to ensure that late work is properly identified.

  • Don’t forget to tell students where to post their late work for an assignment.
  • You might also find it useful to require students to tag you, when they submit their work. This is especially helpful if the topic where the late work is posted has already been archived.

Note: If a student’s work is submitted after a progress grading period has passed, you will need to specify why the grade is being changed. (Learn more: See "What changes have been made to assignment grading?" in Grading with the Gradebook)


The above is the best practice. However, sometimes, despite your best efforts, students might submit late work through the Mailbox or post it in the Instructor’s Office.

What to do in such cases?

  1. Review their work wherever it was submitted.
  2. Then open the grading interface for the relevant assignment, and enter their grade there.
  3. In the Grade Comments field, make a note about where the work was submitted, so that there is a record — and so that the assignment can be easily located in the future.

How should I manage re-submissions?

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In some classes, instructors allow their students to resubmit any of their earlier work at the end of the semester. It may be impractical in such cases to use the same approach we recommend for handling late homework (see above). Instead, you might choose to open a non-graded global topic for these resubmissions — and then follow these steps for reviewing and grading:

  • Remind students to carefully label their resubmissions, so it’s clear which assignment they’re redoing.
  • Review their work in this newly created topic.
  • Then open the grading interface in the original topic, and enter their grade there.
  • In the Grade Comments field, make a note about where the work was submitted, so that there is a record — and so that the assignment can be easily located in the future.

How do I handle extra-credit work?

Click the image to view or download this cheatsheet.

What are my options?

The configuration of the new Gradebook means that you need to consider carefully how extra credit works in your class before you set things up.

  • The simplest solution is to add an extra-credit assignment with the same weight/value as all the other assignments in your class. In this case, it's a simple matter of creating a global topic for your extra-credit assignment and assigning it to the proper category. Two important things to keep in mind:
    • First, the Gradebook will readjust its calculations to include this extra-credit assignment. So, for example, if your class originally had four assignments, each of these would be worth 25% of the overall assignment grade. Adding an extra-credit assignment brings the total number of assignments to five: each assignment will now be worth 20% of the overall assignment grade.
    • The other thing that's critical is to give a grade of "Excused" to every student who does not complete the extra-credit work. An "Excused" grade eliminates the assignment from a student's overall grade calculations. Also, keep in mind that extra credit should not lower a student's grade, so if a student's extra-credit work is of lesser quality than their usual work, you might want to excuse them, as well.
  • Another option is to include extra-credit assignments that add extra points to other aspects of the class. For example, successful completion of the extra-credit task might bump up a student's grade on a particular assignment. Or it might add a percentage point or two to their overall grade. This sort of extra-credit work must be handled separately from regular graded activities. Here’s what you would need to do: 
    • For each extra credit assignment, create an ungraded global topic where students will submit their work.
    • Make clear how much the extra credit assignment is worth.
    • Add the earned extra point(s) where appropriate.
      • If the extra credit boosts an assignment, use the percentage grading input to add points to the relevant assignment.
      • Or, if the extra credit boosts the overall grade,  add the earned extra point(s) to the student’s calculated grade when you post final grades at the end of the semester. Keep in mind that these extra points may or may not raise the student’s final grade.

Caution: Add the earned points only when you calculate final grades (and not to other progress grades); otherwise, the extra credit will carry too much weight in the progress grades. Also, points added to one set of progress grades will not carry over to the next grading period.

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