Understanding the Moodle Gradebook | Albright College

Understanding the Moodle Gradebook

Full instructional PDF

Knowing some foundations of the Moodle gradebook can make gradebook setup more efficient.

A Basic Example

It often helps to start with a simple example of grade aggregation. In the example below, we have a quiz with five questions. Each question is worth two points, resulting in 10-point quiz. However, for the overall course grade, each quiz in the course needs to be worth 25 points. When we set the maximum grade at 25, Moodle will aggregate the 10-point quiz to the 25 points (i.e. a student who earns 8/10 will earn 20/25, both equal to 80%).

Understanding the Gradebook image 1


Three major concerns in gradebook setup

The Moodle gradebook should be:

  1. Aligned with the instructor’s grading style. Does the instructor grade numerically, with or without a rubric, or give only letter grades? Are grade items divided into categories?
  2. As transparent as possible for students. They can see how the grade is calculated.
  3. An accurate reflection of the grading scheme in the syllabus.


Grading styles

These are some indications faculty can use to determine their grading style:

Natural grader

  • The point values of graded items vary as a reflection of the item’s significance
  • The course total is expressed in points (i.e. 470)
  • Items are not divided into categories

Weighted grader

  • All or most items are worth 100 points
  • Item grades are expressed as percentages or letters
  • Items are weighted by categories (i.e. papers are worth 40%)


Aggregation Methods

Our Moodle gradebook offers four choices of aggregation method. These can be set at both the course and category level.


  • Natural aggregation consists simply of points earned out of points possible. For example, a student who earns 470/530 has an 89%.
  • Each graded item is weighted by virtue of its point value. The weight is thus inherent (or natural). Items can be worth from 1-900 points, and the course can total any number of points.
  • The course total will display an actual running total of possible points.
  • The gradebook setup page will show the calculated weight of each item, but there is rarely any need to change it.

Understanding the gradebook image 2

Weighted Mean of Grades

  • The user is required to set the weights of items and categories; it is not done automatically. Therefore, the point values of individual grade items are not relevant to their weight. The instructor can choose to make all items worth 100 points, or vary the point values, as they see fit. In the example below, although both exams are worth 75 points, the second is worth considerably more of the overall grade than the first. Weighted mean allows the user to set the weights this way.
  • Course and category totals will always show 100 points (not a running total of graded items), indicating 100%.
  • Weights are entered into boxes provided for that purpose.

Understanding the gradebook image 3

Simple Weighted Mean of Grades

  • This is our default at Albright. It acts like a hybrid between Natural and Weighted Mean.
  • Moodle weights items automatically, according to the point values given to them by the user. For example, if a category contains two items with equal point values, each will be worth 50%. If the point values differ, for example, one is 20 points and the other 30 points, Moodle will weight the items 40% and 60% respectively. The instructor doesn’t see this weighting on the gradebook setup page, but it will show to students in the Calculated Weight column of the User Report.
  • Course and category totals will always show 100 points (not a running total of graded items), indicating 100%.
  • The weights of categories, instead of being entered into boxes for that purpose (as they are in Weighted Mean), need to be entered as the maximum grade for the category. Moodle will then weight the categories according to the point values the user has given them. The example below shows the student view of the exam category in simple weighted mean. The first column is the weight of that item in the category. The second column shows the points earned on each exam, and the final column shows the points possible. The totals row shows that the exam category is worth 40% of the overall grade, and that the student has earned 34 out of the possible 40 points for this category. (60 + 67.5 = 127.5/150 or 85%. 85% of 40 = 34)

Understanding the gradebook image 4

Mean of Grades (with extra credits)

In this method, all grades are averaged together (i.e. given equal weight) regardless of their point value. This is rarely used at the college level, but is available for instructors who may want it, particularly for a specific category. The same result can be accomplished by using Weighted Mean of Grades and weighting all items equally, but extra credit is easier with this method.


Are categories needed?

Natural grading

  • Categories are not necessary but can be used for cosmetic purposes (to keep the gradebook organized) or to drop the lowest grade in a category.

Weighted grading

  • Categories are needed for accurate calculations. Calculations will be done first inside the category, then in the overall grade (like parenthesis in an equation).
  • They are also needed to drop the lowest grade or to add extra credit to a category.
  • They can also be used for cosmetic purposes (when aligned with correct calculations).


Extra Credit

Any item can be designated as extra credit in Natural and Simple Weighted Mean. To make an item extra credit in Weighted Mean requires first creating the item normally, then going back to make it extra credit. Simple Weighted Mean also allows adding extra credit on a category total.


Combining course and category aggregation methods

The aggregation method for a category might differ from the method used at the course level if:

  • Items within that one category are graded differently than other items (i.e. by point value vs. percentage), making a different method more desirable.
  • We want Moodle to calculate (or not calculate) the weights for us in that category but not for other items.

We can create subcategories within a category, but those will have the same aggregation method as their parent category.


To set up a gradebook

  1. Determine overall grading style: natural or weighted. Combinations and other styles are possible. Help is available if needed. See below.
  2. Choose an appropriate aggregation method at the course level, with consideration for the three major concerns noted above.
  3. Create categories if needed, based on the grading scheme or cosmetic needs.
  4. Choose a different aggregation method in any category if necessary.
  5. Drop lowest grades or create extra credit items if needed.


Where to get help

Help documentation

One-on-one appointments

 Back to Faculty Moodle Help