The OWL Grade Book

The Grade Book tools provides an easy and convenient way for instructors to manage grades and distribute them to students. Using the Grade Book and the My Grades tool, instructors can post grades such that students have access only to their own grades. The following guide will cover:

Basic Use of the OWL Grade Book

Accessing and Navigating the Grade Book

To access the Grade Book, make sure you are under the TEACH tab then locate the GRADE BOOK link under Instructor Tools on the left-hand navigation bar. Once you have clicked the link your Grade Book will be displayed in the right-hand screen. Each row represents a student or member enrolled in your course, while the columns contain comments and grades.

Note: A student that appears red is no longer enrolled in your course, and cannot be removed from your Grade Book.

You will also notice that you can view your Grade Book according to different criteria. The tabs marked Grades, Members, View All, Custom View and SCORM Grades along the top of the Grade Book organize your Grade Book content in different ways.

Grades View displays student enrollment information, grade columns and grade values.

Members View displays a list of all member enrollment information.

View All displays all Grade Book information for all members enrolled in your course.

Custom View displays a customized Grade Book view.

SCORM Grades View displays grades for any SCORM modules you may have in your course.

Sorting Column Values

You can also change the view of your column by changing the order in which your column values are shown. To do so, click on the GRAY DROP-DOWN ARROW beside the name of the column you wish to re-order. The arrow beside the Sort Column link indicates in which direction the values are currently ordered. To change the direction, simply click the SORT COLUMN link.


Hiding and Reordering Columns

Clicking on HIDE COLUMN from the column drop-down menu hides the column from view within the Grade Book. Students will still be able to see this column in the My Grades section, but the column will no longer be visible to the instructor in the Grade Book.

To unhide a column, you must click on REORDER COLUMNS link found at the top of the Grade Book. A new page will open with a list of all the columns that can be hidden in your Grade Book. Click SHOW COLUMN beside the column you wish to unhide.

Here you can also reorder your columns. To do so, select the column you wish to move, then click the MOVE ITEM icon (the small arrow to the left of the column name) for the column you wish your column to be above. For example, in reference to the image above, by selecting My New Column and clicking the Move Item icon for Final will move My New Column above Final.


Creating A Numeric Grade Book Column

Your Grade Book will come with two columns already pre-made: Midterm and Final. You can not delete these columns, however you can make your own columns to better suit your needs. To create a new column, click the CREATE COLUMN button. A drop-down menu will appear with all of the available column types you can create. There are seven types of columns:

  1. Alphanumeric: allows you to enter data that contains text and numbers.
  2. Calculated: allows you to specify a formula that can include other numeric columns to generate a numeric value.
  3. Letter Grade: allows you to calculate a letter grade based on the numeric value of another column.
  4. Numeric: allows you to enter a grade in numerical form only.
  5. Selection List: allows you to specify one or more text values that can then be selected.
  6. Text: allows you to enter text only.
  7. Grading Form: grades in the column reference those entered into a Grading Form.

The most common column types are Calculated and Numeric. This section will focus on creating a Numeric column. See the Advanced section on how to create a Calculated column.

To create a Numeric column, select NUMERIC from the Create Column list. The column settings page will appear. Here you can specify a name for your column, text alignment, the maximum value the column can hold, the number of decimal places for your value, and whether or not you want the grade released to your students.

Once you have entered in the parameters for your column, click SAVE. Your new column will appear at the far right end of the Grade Book.


Entering and Releasing Grades

There are two ways that you can enter and edit grades manually.

  1. You can enter grades in for each individual student by clicking on the UNDERLINED DOUBLE HYPHEN found in the grade column of each student. A new window will open allowing you to enter a new grade into the CHANGE TO field. As the Change To field suggests, this is also method for editing grades that have previously been entered. You can also add comments or view the Audit History to see the number of changes that have been made to a particular grade. Click SAVE when you are finished. The grade will now appear in the appropriate grade column.

  2. You can enter grades in manually for all your students at once by click on the GRAY DROP-DOWN ARROW located beside the column name and selecting EDIT VALUES. You will be directed to a screen showing you grade entry fields for each student in your course. Simply enter in the grades and then click SAVE.


To ensure that your students can see their grades, click on the GRADE BOOK OPTIONS drop-down menu found at the top-right of the Grade Book. Select COLUMN SETTINGS from the menu list. The Column Settings page will appear. Here you can alter a number of the parameters affecting your Grade Book columns. The parameters are shown in rows on the right-hand side. Find the RELEASED TO STUDENT row and follow it across to your final grades column. If the row reads YES then the grade is visible to your students. If you do not want your students to have access to their grades, click on the YES link to change it to NO. When the column reads NO your grades are not visible to your students.


Editing Column Settings

Within the Column Settings area, you will notice that there are other column parameters that you can change. Here you can rename or delete a column by clicking on the GRAY DROP-DOWN ARROW beside the column name and choosing DELETE or RENAME from the menu. To delete more than one column at a time, simply click the CHECK BOX above each column you wish to delete, and then click the DELETE button found at the bottom of the page.

To change other column parameters, such as text alignment or column type, simply click on the PARAMETER itself. Either the parameter will automatically change to your new choice (e.g. clicking on C in the alignment row will change your text alignment to center) or a new window will open showing you the parameter options.

Advanced Use of the OWL Grade Book

Creating Calculated Columns

A calculated column determines a grade value according to a set calculation that may include other grade values from other columns in your Grade Book. To create a Calculated Column, click on the CREATE COLUMN link and select CALCULATED. The Calculated Column Settings window will appear. The parameters for a Calculated Column are the same for a Numeric Column. When you have entered your desired parameters, click SAVE.

To add a calculation to your new column, find your column in the Grade Book and click on the GRAY DROP-DOWN ARROW beside the column title. Select EDIT COLUMN FORMULA from the menu. A window will open that displays calculator functions and a list of your Grade Book columns. This is where you will create your formula.

Functions can be entered into the formula display field only by clicking on their respective links. You cannot type into this field.

Using the functions and operators, enter in your desired calculation. To add an additional column, click on ENTER ANOTHER VALUE. When are finished entering your values, close your function by clicking on END FUNCTION.

To the right you will see an example of a formula used to calculate a final grade based on a midterm worth 25%, an assignment worth 25% and a final exam worth 50%. The formula is displayed in the formula display field.

After saving the formula, you will see that the calculated column has calculated the final grade according to your criteria. Any changes you make to the calculation will therefore also change the final grade.

Note: Grades that appear with an upwards point arrow (^) indicate that a grade has been changed from its originally entered value.


Freezing Columns

The Freeze Columns option is founded under the GRADE BOOK OPTIONS drop-down menu. When you choose to freeze columns, the first two columns of the Grade Book, Last Name and First Name, become stationary, while the rest of the columns scroll for easy of use, as shown below.


Importing Grades from Spreadsheets

You can import grades into your OWL Grade Book from a spreadsheet by following the steps outlined below.

  1. Open your spreadsheet file in your preferred spreadsheet program (e.g. Microsoft Excel) and save it as a CSV (Comma-Separated Value) file. Note: cell properties will not be preserved in this file.

  3. In the OWL Grade Book click on IMPORT FROM SPREADSHEET found in the top link bar.

  5. Click on CHOOSE FILE and select the CSV file you wish to upload. Ensure that COMMA is set in the SEPARATOR field. Click UPLOAD.

  7. A new page will open showing a list of the columns in your CSV file, and the matching Grade Book columns. If you do not have a column in the Grade Book that matches the grade column in your spreadsheet, you can choose to create a new column by selecting ADD AS NEW COLUMN from the drop-down menu under the Grade Book Column heading.

  9. You can also choose not to import a spreadsheet column by selecting DO NOT IMPORT. Otherwise, you can simply match your spreadsheet columns to your Grade Book columns by choosing the appropriate one from the list.

  11. Once you have finished matching your columns, click IMPORT. Your Grade Book will now update with the appropriate grades from your spreadsheet.

Exporting Grades to Spreadsheets

You can also export grades from your OWL Grade Book to a spreadsheet. To do this, simply click on EXPORT TO SPREADSHEET found on the bottom link bar of your Grade Book. A page with a list of export parameters will appear. For most cases, you will not need to change the default parameters. Simply click EXPORT and a file called exportedcourse will automatically save to your desktop in the file format specified.

Viewing Column Statistics

To view a column's statistics click on the drop-down arrow besdie the column and select COLUMN STATISTICS. A window will open with a histogram and list of statistics. Here you can see the number of grades entered in that column (Count), the Average grade, the Median, the highest grade (Maximum) and the lowest grade (Minimum), as well as the Standard Deviation.

A histogram is provided to illustrate this information, and you may also choose to add or remove the number of bars used to display this information.





Using MMS with the OWL Grade Book

While MMS provides you with an easy way to maintain and manage your students' grades, the OWL Grade Book offers a simple and secure method of distributing these grades to your students.

Uploading Grades from MMS

There are two ways to transfer grades from your MMS file into WebCT-OWL:

1. Direct Transfer (recommended)

Once you have completed entering grades into MMS, go to the TOOLS menu and select WEBCT-OWL > EXPORT MMS GRADE COLUMNS DIRECTLY INTO WEBCT-OWL GRADEBOOK.

Select the columns you wish to transfer by clicking on their corresponding letter. After clicking OK, Java will load and you may be asked to run the application. If you get this message, click on RUN.

When prompted, enter the same information you use to log in to WebCT-OWL and click RETRIEVE LIST OF COURSES.

After selecting the course the grades are for, you can decide whether to immediately release these grades to the students, or to hide them. Choose NOT to release the grades.

Finally, click on POST GRADES TO WEBCT.  When complete, a message will appear in the status box along with any errors or exceptions encountered during the upload.

2. Export Using a Spreadsheet File

Once you have completed entering grades into MMS, go to the TOOLS menu and select WEBCT-OWL > EXPORT MMS GRADE COLUMNS DIRECTLY INTO WEBCT-OWL CSV.

Select the columns you wish to transfer by clicking on their corresponding letter and click OK. Then select a location and enter a name for the file and click SAVE. Hint: it is easiest to save it to the desktop, rather than deep within your documents.

At this point, open WebCT-OWL, enter your Grade Book, and follow the instructions listed above for importing grades from a spreadsheet.

Exporting Grades from OWL to MMS

Begin by going to the OWL Grade Book and clicking on EXPORT TO SPREADSHEET near the bottom of the page. At the next page, you may leave the default settings as they are and simply click EXPORT. You may be prompted to either save or open the file. It is recommended that you save the file to your desktop.

In MMS, go to the TOOLS menu and select WEBCT-OWL and then IMPORT WEBCT-OWL GRADE COLUMNS CSV INTO MMS. Browse for the file you exported from OWL that you have saved on the desktop and then click OPEN.

When prompted, select a grade column you wish to import into MMS and choose OK. Finally, select where you would like the column to be placed in MMS and choose OK.

Enrolling Members into your OWL Course

You can easily enroll members into your OWL course using the OWL Grade Book. Simply click on the ENROLL MEMBERS link found at the top of your Grade Book page. The Enroll Members page will appear.

To enroll someone enter their UWO username (the part before the of their UWO email address) into the USER NAME field.

You must then select the role you wish to assign to them. There are four roles available and each grants different permissions to your OWL course.

Student: Select the Student role if you need to enroll a student into your course. You do not have to enroll all of your students. This is done automatically for you. However, sometimes course access may be delayed for an individual student (often during add/drop). In this case you may enroll the student so that they may have access to your course immediately. The student role only has access to the Student View tab.

Teaching Assistant: This role provides access to the Teach and Student View tabs. It allows your TA's to access the Grade Book and interact with the students. It does not provide access to the Build tab. Sometimes you may want your TA's to have design privileges. In this case, you can assign both the Teaching Assisant role and the Section Designer role to give them access to all of the tabs.

Auditor: The Auditor role is reserved for those who merely wish to review your course (such as a department head), but do not need to interact with the students, or partake in the design process.

Once you have selected the appropriate role, click ENROLL. A summary of the user and role information you have selected will be shown. If the information is correct, click SAVE. The individual will now be enrolled in your course.