Thursday, 20 December 2007

Where do they teach this stuff?

Profgrrrrl demonstrates how to use a spreadsheet program to calculate grades. This seems like the sort of skill that ought to be taught somewhere in the curriculum, but I don’t recall ever being told to use a spreadsheet in school except to calculate basic descriptive statistics (means and standard deviations) for physics labs in college in some DOS version of Quattro Pro.

Of course, I’m the sort of person who grades things with denominators like 15, 45, and 60 and who created 11 nested IF formulas in Calc to assign letter grades in my classes this semester, so I’m clearly weird.

Update: Dr. Pion also responds to the initial post that started it all.


Any views expressed in these comments are solely those of their authors; they do not reflect the views of the authors of Signifying Nothing, unless attributed to one of us.

My method is painfully simple. I just plug their grades into columns in excel. I think the formula for the final grade for my Southern Politics class looked something like this

<< =((b2*.2)+(c2*.25)+(d2*.2)+(e2*.25)+(f2*.1)) >>

…to reflect the breakdown of:

Black Belt Paper=20%
Midterm Exam=25%
Book Review=20%
Final Exam=25%

[Permalink] 2. Rick Almeida wrote @ Fri, 21 Dec 2007, 9:39 am CST:

I break everything down into a total point system, so 3 exams at 100 points each, etc. Each graded item is a column, students are the rows. The final column is a summation of all the points earned divided by the total number of possible points. In Excel, it’s:

sum(a1:a6)/500 [or whatever the total number of points is]

This formula can just e copied and pasted into each student’s column, the referents update automatically.


The total point system would probably work OK for me, but I’ve found that I need to have small denominators (12–15) to make sure I generate a good spread of grades while not writing up an overly complex grading sheet.

Here’s what I used in my Southern politics class this fall, for your amusement:


Column T was the quiz average, W was participation/attendance, D was the paper, E was the first group project, F was the second group project, G was the participation grade for the group projects, and Z was the final exam. I probably could have simplified the formulas a bit by combining constants, but this way seemed clearer.


I don’t understand how anyone could ever open Excel and not see that “gradesheet” is its first best use. Played with Lotus 1–2-3 when I was in grade school, so by the time I was a grown-up doing grading, there was no question of not doing it.

But one’s senior colleagues do seem to think it’s magic.


Well, you’d have to open Excel first to figure that one out; I’m not sure most people would have reason to open it in the course of their lives. And admittedly figuring out formulas would take the non-numerically-inclined a bit of work.

Comments are now closed on this post.