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Creating Learner-Centered Assessment with Brightspace

In a previous blog post, we explored how educators can use Mastery View in the Brightspace platform to support student success. Now let’s look at how teachers can use Brightspace to create learner-centered assessment.

At D2L, we often hear that learner-centered assessment should be part of every classroom. But the question is this:

How can educators put learner-centered assessment into practice?

Ideally, educators should regularly monitor student progress throughout the semester, and the final exam should not be the only deciding factor for learners’ grades. Realistically—as teachers like you know—in a tightly packed curriculum with unpredictable classroom challenges, there’s a glaring need for an efficient grading system that supports you as you evaluate your students.

What if there was a grading system that was insightful, supported your students’ learning experience, and saved you time by doing extra grading calculations for you? Great news—there is!

In Brightspace, you can use the Grades tool to continuously map learner success throughout the semester, conveniently evaluate students’ work, and keep track of all the assessment items you’ve issued or plan to issue in the future. The Grades tool can also help you create opportunities for meaningful student engagement—giving them enough time between interactions to reflect on their learning and articulate their knowledge.

Here are some of the key goals you can accomplish using the Grades tool to build avenues of successful assessment and grading practices for your students:

Gain Insight into Student Performance

When you want to take a quick look at how learners have been performing in their assessments, simply check the Enter Grades tab. Here you can view all your students’ scores on the fly as well as any associated Grading Scheme.

You can also use the Enter Grades tab to see Milestone grades for each student during a semester or a marking period. Keep in mind, Milestone grades are only available if you set them up when you’re creating your Gradebook in the Manage Grades tab. During setup, you can choose from the assessment items you want to use to calculate Milestone Grades. These grades can help you stay informed about how students are doing at each step in their learning journey so you can react in a timely manner.

Milestone Grades in Brightspace screenshot

Support Student Learning with Assessment

You can easily monitor students’ achievement of learning objectives or Rubric criteria right inside your Gradebook by simply attaching the criteria to Grade Items in the Manage Grades tab. In following this process, the criteria you’re using to assess your students are right in front of you without the need for a separate record.

Manage Grades in Brightspace screenshot

To make it easy for students to view their grades, there are settings you can use to control the appearance of the Gradebook. This can be done in the Setup Wizard or in the settings for Org Unit Display Options. Here you can choose whether students view their grades in the points or percentage system, or you can choose your own unique Grading Scheme. If you choose to enable the Automatically Release Grades option, the assessment items you grade will automatically release to students, helping learners quickly keep track of how they’re performing.

Setup Wizard in Brightspace screenshot

You should always use professional judgement when automatically releasing final class grades to students. This is especially true in situations where a student has missed assessments but they’ve otherwise performed well along their learning journey. In these instances, you can choose to modify or adjust final grades before they’re released to learners by using the Adjusted
Final Grades option in the Setup Wizard.

Save Time

Based on your students’ grade level or your course requirements, you can determine your Gradebook settings in the Setup Wizard. The Gradebook helps you choose between your Grading System in terms of point system or weighted system, grade calculations, and any other Gradebook options you want to set. Once you select your Gradebook settings, the system will perform automatic calculations for you when you grade your students.

When you first set up your course in Brightspace, give some thought to how you want to issue assessments to your students, how you want to categorise them, and how you want to release them. Some teachers like to organise their Gradebook with categories on Marking Periods, others prefer to sort by assessment type, and then there are those who prefer a hybrid of both approaches. All of this can be done in the Manage Grades tab. By setting up your Gradebook ahead of time, you can track learner progress regularly and make informed decisions in a timely manner to support your students.

For assessments such as live presentations that require real-time evaluation, or if you simply want to add a grade or feedback on the fly, you can use the Enter Grades tab. Here you’ll see a list of your students along with the assessment item, where you can quickly fill in grades or feedback in the field provided.

As a recap, if you’re using the Grades tool for the first time, a good place to start is by setting up your Grading System in Setup Wizard. Next, you can create your Gradebook in Manage Grades to organise your Grades Category and Grade Items and map out the formative or summative assessments you’ll use to assess your students. Remember, you can make tweaks whenever you like, but it’s worth spending some time setting up your Gradebook at the outset of a class to help calculate grades for the rest of the year.

In our next post, we’ll explore how teachers can use Brightspace to help establish effective communication practices in the classroom.

Tips and Tricks of Grades in Brightspace

Interested in learning more about creating learner-centered assessment? Check out our webinar Tips and Tricks of Grades in Brightspace to discover tips and tricks about setting up your gradebook, and what to be aware of with the Grades tool.

And don’t miss the other upcoming and recorded sessions in our webinar series.

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