Assessments & Grading

Grading in Sakai begins by creating gradable activities in tools like Assignments or Tests & Quizzes, which are fully integrated with the Gradebook. This allows you to grade student submissions within the respective tool and have the grades sent directly to the Gradebook. You can also enter grades manually in the Gradebook or upload grades collected outside of Sakai.

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How to Set Up Your Gradebook

The Gradebook is a very flexible tool that you can customize to meet your specific needs.

It is strongly recommended to set up the Gradebook first once your course site is available. The steps below will guide you through the recommended settings.

  1. Once logged in to Sakai, go to the course site in which you want to set up the Gradebook.

  2. Click Gradebook on the navigation menu on the left.

  3. In the Gradebook tool, click Edit, then Gradebook Settings.



  4. The recommended settings for your Gradebook are:

    • Organize Gradebook using Category Style: Weighted Categories
    • Grade Using: Points



    Note: Weighted Categories using Points allow you to assign a relative weight to each category, as well as enter points for each item.

    You can also organize by:

    • No Categories: Choose this if you do not want to organize your Gradebook items in categories.
    • Categories: This option allows you to group items into categories. Items and categories are weighted by point totals instead of as a percent of the total grade.

    You can also grade using:

    • Percentages: Do not use this option. As an alternative, use Points with values of 100 for your items.
    • Letter Grades: Choose this to enter letter grades between A+ and F for each item.

    You can also control what students can see in the Gradebook. Although it's possible to display the final grade (Course Grade) through Sakai, the Office of the Registrar prefers that students receive this grade through the Registrar's system as shown in InsideND.




  5. Click Save/Close.

    Note: If you set up your Gradebook with Weighted Categories, you will see "This Gradebook is not correctly weighted." This message will disappear when Categories account for 100% of the Course Grade and items account for 100% of each Category.

  6. Click Edit, then Grade Scale.



  7. Select Letter Grade for Grade format, then edit the ranges to match your personal Grade Scale.



  8. Click Close to return to the Gradebook. 

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Can I create my own grading scale?

Sakai has a default grading scale that equates letter grades to a range of numbers. You can change the number ranges, but you are not able to add or remove a letter grade altogether.

Changing your course grade scale

  1. Go into the Gradebook in your selected Course Site.

  2. From the Gradebook menu, select Edit. Choose Grade Scale from the drop-down menu.

  3. If necessary, revise the grading scale by entering the correct numbers in the From column. Numbers in the grey To columns will update to complement your entry.


  4. To save your revisions and return the Gradebook to spreadsheet view, click Close or click Reset to Default if you want to revert back to Sakai’s default grade settings.

Note: If you have graded items in your Gradebook when you make these revisions, the letter grades posted in the Course Grade column will update automatically.

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Customizing your Gradebook Spreadsheet Display

You can select which columns display in your gradebook spreadsheet by using the tabs on the left side of the Gradebook screen. Items checked in the left side pane will display in the right side spreadsheet pane.

  1. Click on the Attributes & Grades tab to make selections for student identifiers and grade details.


  2. Click on the Gradebook tab to select which gradeable item columns you would like to display in the spreadsheet. Click on the bold Gradebook title checkbox to include all graded item columns.


Remember that items displayed in your gradebook view are not necessarily visible to your students. Only those items with scores that have been released will be visible to students.

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Sorting/Search Options in the Gradebook

You have three options for sorting Gradebook results. Follow this link for steps to choose which columns display in the spreadsheet frame.

  1. Sort by Student Name or netID - Search by last name or netID in the first field and click Find to locate a specific student’s information. Click Clear to revert to viewing all class participants.


  2. Search by Section or Group - Use the drop-down list on the right to search by section or group.


  3. Sort Columns Alphabetically or Numerically - Sort items and scores in ascending or descending order by clicking the arrows that display when you mouse over column headings.


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Can my TA grade assignments and/or quizzes?

Yes and yes. There are two Teaching Assistant roles in Sakai: TA Registrar and Undergrad TA.

The TA Registrar role is typically assigned by the Office of the Registrar. A TA in this role is automatically able to grade items from Assignments, Test & Quizzes, Forums, and work submitted from other tools. This role can also enter grades directly in the Gradebook for non-electronic submissions.

Use the Undergrad TA role if you want to assign a TA role to someone you choose, such as an undergrad assistant. The role is intended to be flexible depending on the responsibilities you give your TA. This means you may have extra configuration.

The TA role can be given permission to grade Tests & Quizzes, Assignments, Forums and grades entered directly into the Gradebook. Please see the help section for each of these tools for steps to enable grading for the Undergrad TA role.

Note: If you’ve assigned anyone to the Undergrad TA role you must further specify which groups and/or sections you want to permit that Undergrad TA to grade. If you do not know how to do this, take a look at our instructions for assigning the Undergrad TA role.

To enable your Undergrad TA to add grades into the Gradebook:

  1. Login to Sakai and access the desired course.

  2. Click Gradebook in the left-hand navigation bar.

  3. Select Edit > Grader Permission Settings.


    The Permissions screen displays.


  4. From the User drop-down list, select the name of the person whose settings you want to change. Additional options display once you select a name.

  5. Use the drop-down lists to select the permitted activity and the Gradebook category.

  6. From the in drop-down list select a section or group. Your screen should resemble the following:


  7. Click Add. The permission setting displays in the grid below.


  8. Click Close when finished.

The next time your Undergrad TA opens the Gradebook of your Course Site, they will see a partial roster of students from the Section or Sections you have given them permission to grade.

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Can I view the Gradebook from a student's perspective?

Yes.  In the Gradebook for your Course Site, click the name of any student and then click the View As Student button in the Student Summary pane.  Click Close when done.

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Why do my students see red strike-throughs in their gradebook?

Red strike-throughs mean that those item scores are not counting towards the student’s course grade. Reasons for this include:

Dropped Scores

In this instance, the instructor has chosen to drop the lowest score in a category.


So the student sees this, with the note Dropped.


Excused grade

Here the instructor has excused an assignment, due to an illness.


So the student sees the red score, with the note Dropped.


Item score not included in grade

Here the instructor has chosen not to include the item’s grade in the course total, as is common with early assignments. Instructor may also have forgotten to check this box during gradebook set-up.


So the student sees this with the note Excluded.


This can be fixed by the instructor double-clicking on the item name in the gradebook, checking the box for Include in Grade, and saving. The scores will switch to black in the student view.

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Entering Grades

Manually Entering Grades in the Gradebook

Only items created in Gradebook can be graded in the Gradebook tool.  Items created using Assignments or Tests & Quizzes that are electronically submitted must be graded using that tool.

Note: There are two ways to enter grades manually in Gradebook.

  • Enter scores into the spreadsheet frame, where you can enter multiple student scores for a single item, or multiple item scores for a single student; or
  • Enter scores in the Student Summary frame, where you may enter all item scores for a single student.

Entering Scores into the Gradebook Spreadsheet

  1. Make sure the spreadsheet is displaying a column for the item you wish to grade. To display the item column in your spreadsheet view, check the box next to the item in the Gradebook tab.

Note: This action only makes the item visible in your spreadsheet pane and does not indicate that the item or its grade is visible to  the student. You must first release the item before it will be visible to the student.


  1. To enter each student’s grade for this single item, type the numeric point score directly into the spreadsheet.  Press Enter to move to the next student. Once a grade has been manually entered in a field, a green flag appears. This flag will go away once you exit the Gradebook.


  1. If you wish to include comments for each student, right click the grading field and click Add Comment.  A small window will open for your typed comments. When complete, click Submit.


  1. A yellow flag will appear in the field indicating that a comment has been entered for that field. You may go back to edit comments at any time.


  1. Grades are saved as they are entered. Comments are saved by selecting Submit to close the comments window.

Enter Scores in the Student Summary

  1. Double-click on the student name to open the Student Summary pane. This window will show fields for all graded items for this student, as well as all accumulated grades in this course to this point.


  1. Enter grades directly into the Student Summary field beside the grading item.

Note: Only items created in the Gradebook tool can have grades entered here. Items created in other tools such as Assignments or Tests & Quizzes cannot be graded directly in Gradebook unless they were associated during set-up with an item created in Gradebook.

  1. Comments can also be entered here in the Comments tab.


  1. Move between students using the Previous and Next buttons at the bottom of the window.  Choose Close when finished with Student Summary entries.

 Note: Only items that have been released to the student are visible in this view.

  1. Click on View As Student to see the Gradebook as a student would see it.


  1. To release an item for students to see, double-click on the item in the Gradebook to open the Edit Item screen on the right. Check the box for Release Scores and Save/Close.
  2. To confirm that this new item is visible to students, double-click on a student name to open the Student Summary frame. Choose View As Student in the frame and confirm that the latest item is now visible. Click Close when finished.

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How to Grade an Assignment in Gradebook

If you created an assignment using the Assignment tool, and your students are submitting their assignments electronically, you will access and grade finished work from within the Assignment tool.

But if you have made an Assignment in the Assignments tool and students are submitting their work non-electronically, you can enter grades through the Gradebook tool.  In order to do this, you will associate your Assignment with a Gradebook entry.

  1. You will first want to create an item in the course Gradebook for the Assignment.  Assign the item to the appropriate Category and Points value.  Source will default to Gradebook.
  2. Next, create the Assignment using the Assignments tool.  Under the setting for Grading, choose Associate with existing Gradebook entry and select the appropriate item from the drop-down list. The item you just created in the Gradebook will show up here.


    Choose Post to complete.
  3. See How to Enter Grades Manually in the Gradebook to complete grading process.


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Exporting Grades from Gradebook

Whether you are creating a backup of your Gradebook, using Excel to add grades for an offline assignment so that you can re-import them, or preparing final grades for the Registrar, the following settings will meet your needs:

To export grades into an Excel spreadsheet:

  1. Click Tools on the Gradebook menu bar.
  2. Click Export.



  3. Under Export Format, select No-Structure Gradebook (Only Grades).


    Note: Using the Full Structure option is not advisable, as it adds unnecessary, extraneous rows and information.

  4. The CSV (.csv) option creates a file that can be opened by any version of Excel or another spreadsheet program.
    The screen below is an example of what the resulting file would look like when opened in Excel.


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Preparing Grades for Import from Sakai to Banner (the Registrar’s system)

Once you have exported student grades from Sakai, you will need to add a couple more pieces of information before a bulk import of grades to the Registrar’s system. Banner now requires two columns of information to be added to the grade upload file before import, those columns are: the Term Code and CRN (Course Reference Number).

The simplest way to add these additional columns is to export the grade template from Banner, and then combine the data into one spreadsheet for import back into the Registrar’s system.

Alternatively, the column headers can be added manually and the column values filled down, using Excel’s fill feature and assuming that all students registered for the same CRN. Among other places, your courses’ CRN and this semester’s Term Code can both be found in Class Search and through Online Photo.

  1. In Banner Faculty Grade Entry, choose Export Grade Template from the Tools dropdown menu.


  2. Choose either export format.


  3. Select Open With Microsoft Excel from the dialog box. Click OK.


  4. Copy the two columns with Term Code and CRN.


  5. Paste the copied columns into the Excel spreadsheet created with your Sakai Gradebook export. Delete any unnecessary columns, such as individual grade items. Required columns are shown below:


  6. Proceed to Step C: Uploading Your Document, which is found here in the Registrar’s Grade Upload Directions.

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Importing Grades to the Gradebook

  • You can easily ensure correct formatting of the file you plan to import by exporting the Course Site’s Gradebook and then using it as your template.
    • To maintain structure, we recommend exporting your existing Gradebook as an Excel or .csv file to your hard drive first. Make edits or additions to this file and then upload.
  • Your spreadsheet must be saved in .csv, .xls, or .xlsx format.
  • The first row of the spreadsheet must contain column headings. The first column must contain each student’s student ID.
  • If you are adding or overwriting scores/comments for an existing Gradebook item, be sure the item name in the file matches the item name in the Gradebook.
    You can import grades for any Gradebook format—points, percentages, or letter grades.


Importing Grades

  1. From the Gradebook menu bar in your course site, select Tools > Import. The Import screen displays.


  2. To import grades only, along with column headings, select No-Structure Gradebook (Only Grades) from the Import Format drop-down list.
  3. Click Browse to navigate to the desired file. Click Next to begin the import process.


    Note: If your file is not set up properly, Sakai displays a message indicating the problem. Once corrections are made, you must re-start the import process.

    Sakai displays a Preview of Import Gradebook Structure (Item settings) and a Preview of Import Grades (Import preview).
  4. Check all of your data in the Preview of Import Grades pane. Sakai displays warning messages for any problems with your imported data, as shown below.


  5. Confirm settings for the imported items in the Preview of Import Gradebook Structure frame. Additional settings display if your Gradebook is set up for categories or weighted categories.
  6. Click Next to begin the import process.
    As the file imports, the Progress screen displays briefly.


    When the import completes successfully, a confirmation message displays.


  7. Click Done to close the Import screen.

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Grading Permissions in Sakai

You can grant permission for your Undergrad TA to grade directly within the Assignments and Forum tools. 

However, if an Undergrad TA will be grading in the Tests & Quizzes tool, or entering grades directly in to the Gradebook for any item, you will first need to assign the TA to a section or group using Site Editor > Manage Groups.

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Using iRubric in Your Gradebook

iRubric, a comprehensive rubric development, assessment, and sharing tool, is integrated into the Sakai Gradebook. Instructors can design and grade with a rubric directly from the Gradebook tool. Grades entered in the iRubric interface will post in the Gradebook.

Note: iRubric opens in a pop-up window. If you cannot see the pop-up window, you may need to modify your web browser settings to allow pop-up windows. Your students will also need to do this in order to access iRubric.

Step One: Create a Rubric

For directions on creating a rubric, watch this brief video. For more detailed instructions from Rcampus (the iRubric vendor), you will need to create a free account on their site.

Step Two:  Attach a Rubric to your Gradebook Item

  1. Open your course site Gradebook.
  2. Double-click the item in the gradebook to which you want to attach a rubric.
    Note: The rubric is not immediately available to attach to a new gradebook item during set-up.  Once you’ve created the new gradable item and closed the New Item window, double-click the new item to open the Edit Item screen.
  3. Click Select iRubric in the right-hand pane to open the interface.


  4. You are prompted to attach a rubric. Click select a rubric.


  5. Click Select next to the rubric you want to use. 


    The attached rubric name displays in the confirmation screen.


  6. Click Save to confirm.
  7. From the Edit Item pane in the Gradebook, click Save and Close. The Gradebook will refresh and the rubric icon will appear in the left pane next to the gradebook item.

Can students see the project rubric before they submit their work?

Yes. As long as the gradebook item is released to students, that item and its rubric will display in their gradebook for review.


Step Three:  Grade Using iRubric in the Gradebook

  1. Click the iRubric icon on the left side pane.


    Note: Depending on how your gradebook is set up, you may need to slide the left pane border to the right in order to see the Scoring Agent column in your gradebook.
  2. The iRubric pop-up window opens. Expand the rubric window to full screen view. A list of students in your course site displays on the left side. Type an individual’s name in the Filter search field to quickly locate a specific name. Click on the student’s name in the list to grade them.


  3. Click on the description in the first category row that best exemplifies the student’s work. The points associated with that level will fill in the scoring field. You can modify that score if necessary (for example, change a score of 2 to 2.5). 


  4. Add comments in the Quick Feedback field or click Feedback Plus for a rich text editor if you want more formatting or linking options for your comments.
  5. Add your overall comments at the bottom of the rubric window. There is also a spot for Private Notes that will only be visible to TAs or other site participants with grading permissions.


  6. Click Save Score. iRubric will save the score as a percentage and convert it to match the grade item point total in your gradebook.


  7. Click on the next student’s name to grade. Your browser may ask “Are you sure you want to leave this page?” click Leave this page to move on to the next student.
  8. When finished with all grading in iRubric, minimize or close the screen and click back into the Gradebook.
  9. Click the refresh icon next to the iRubric icon on the left side pane to synch with the Gradebook and upload all scores.


    Once this is done, the scores will be visible to students.

What the Student Sees

If you have attached a rubric to a gradable item, and you have selected the Release scores check box, your rubric will be available for students to review (via the Gradebook) at any time during their project.


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Creating and Editing an Assignment

The Assignments tool allows you to post, grade, and return assignments to students. You can restrict assignments to a single group or section. Students can use the tool to submit their completed assignments.

To create a new assignment:

  1. Select Assignments from the navigation menu and click Add.
  2. Complete all fields on the Add new assignment screen. All are required and are essential for how your students receive this assignment and return their submissions.


    Note: If you select Points from the Grade Scale drop-down list, enter the maximum number of possible points. You must select Points to have the assignment grade sent to the Gradebook tool.Also, if you select the option to Allow Resubmission, you have the option to send a notification email when a resubmission attempt is available.
  3. The following options display below Assignment Instructions:


    • If you do not want to display the assignment due date, select Hide due date from students. This may be useful in cases where the students have the entire semester to submit an item, and it is not necessary for them to view the specific due date.
    • If you have the Schedule tool enabled in your Course Site, the option to Add due date to Schedule displays.
    • You can choose to automatically announce the assignment posting with an announcement on your site's home page by selecting Add an announcement about the open date to Announcements.
    • Disregard Add honor pledge. This would be an honor pledge that you wrote independently for your course and require students to sign, not the Notre Dame Honor Code.
  4. Select a Grading option:


    1. If you want to add this assignment to the Gradebook you must select Points from the Grade Scale drop-down list (see Note following Step 2).
    2. Select Add Assignment to Gradebook to have grades sent directly to a Gradebook column. If your Gradebook is already set up, a drop-down list of existing Gradebook categories displays, allowing you to select one for this assignment.
      Note: Assignments added to the Gradebook must be graded using the Assignments tool.
    3. You can also associate an assignment with an existing Gradebook item from the Associate with an existing entry drop-down list. This will give you the option to grade the assignment directly in the Gradebook.


  5. If you would like students to review each other’s work, select the Peer Assessment option. Once you check this box, the screen below will expand to show additional options . 


    • Choose an end date for the peer review period in the Evaluation Period Finishes date selection field.
    • If you want student reviews to be anonymous, check Anonymous evaluation.
    • If you want students to be able to view the reviews of their work, check Allow students to see reviews of their submissions.
    • If you would like each student to submit a specific number of reviews, enter the number in the Number of submissions students must review field.
    • Use the Instructions for reviewers area to provide additional instructions for student reviewers if desired. For example, you might provide them with a review rubric or a set of questions to answer in their assessment of other student’s work.
    Watch this short video to learn more about peer assessments.
  6. If you have groups associated with your course site, you have the option to create a group assignment in the Access section. 


    • Select “Are submissions for a group?” to allow one student to submit on behalf of their group
    • Select “Display to selected groups” to limit access to the assignment to specific groups
    (See the section on Creating and Grading a Group Assignment for more detail.)
  7. Choose from the following options:


    • If your assignment is ready, click Post.
    • To preview this assignment, click assignmentarrow next to Student View to see the student’s view of the assignment.


      Note: After previewing the assignment, click Edit to make any changes or click Done to continue. You can also Post this assignment from the Student View or save it as a draft from the Assignments screen.

Editing an Assignment

To edit an assignment:

  1. Log into Sakai and go to the course site in which you want to edit an assignment.
  2. Click Assignments from the navigation menu.
  3. Click Edit beneath the assignment’s title.

The process for editing an assignment is the same as it is for creating an assignment.

Note: Editing a posted assignment will not interfere with assignments that have already been submitted.

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Allowing for Individual Due Date Extensions on Assignments

Occasionally a student will need an extension on an assignment. This method will allow an extension on the submission due date regardless of whether the student has started the assignment.

  1. Open the Assignments tool to view the list of assignments. Choose Grade from the menu under the assignment name.



  2. The Grading screen will open. Click on the name of the student for which you will allow the extension or resubmission.


    Notice that this student hasn’t submitted an assignment yet and the due date has passed. This works regardless of the due date or submission status.
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the Assignment Grading screen for this student.


    Check Allow Submission, choose number of ‘resubmissions’ you will allow (or in this case, ‘submissions’), and choose the Accept Until date. (Note: The Accept Until date must be a future date, otherwise the student will not be able to submit the assignment.) When complete, click Save and Release to Student.
  4. Sakai will confirm that the resubmission was allowed and saved.


    When the student accesses the Assignments tool, the assignment status will change from “Closed”, “Submitted” or “Not Started” to “Returned.”

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Allowing Multiple Students to Resubmit an Assignment

Once an assignment’s due date has passed, an instructor may want to return comments and allow a student to resubmit their work. These steps will guide you through the process.

  1. In the course site Assignments screen, click the blue Grade link for the specific assignment.


  2. Select all of the students for whom you want to allow resubmission by checking the box next to their name(s) on the main Submissions screen. 


  3. Click the triangle icon next to Select User(s) and Allow Resubmission to show the resubmission options. Specify the Number of resubmissions allowed, and the Accept Until date. These details will apply to all the students you select.


  4. Click Update to complete.

The following screens show what the student sees during the submission/resubmission process:

  1. When the student has submitted the assignment:



  2. After the instructor has returned the assignment for resubmission:



  3. When the student opens the assignment for resubmission:




Note:  Allowing resubmissions is done on a student-by-student basis and will not make the assignment available to anyone else.


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Grading Permissions for Assignments

You can grant permission for your Undergrad TA to grade assignments.

  1. From the Assignments screen, select Permissions.


  2. From the Permission table that displays, select which permissions you want your Undergrad TA (or another role) to have.


  3. Click Save.

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Creating and Grading a Group Assignment

Instructors can create groups in their Sakai course site and then assign projects by group.

Using groups in the Assignment tool enables instructors to sort student submissions by group, making it easier to grade all group participants based on a single submission.

Creating a group assignment

Group projects are configured during Assignment set-up.

  1. Under Access, check the box next to all groups you want to include. Also, select the check box next to Are submissions for a group? to allow any member of the group to submit the assignment on behalf of the group.


  2. Post the assignment as you normally would. The assignment will indicate that it is released to specific groups. Click on the triangle next to the number of selected groups to view the names of the groups.

The assignment will display as below when released to specific groups:


Or, if released to all site participants even if they are involved in groups:


Grading a group assignment

Once the assignment has been submitted, grade in the Assignments tool. Both grades and instructor comments are sent to the Gradebook if that assignment has been added to the Gradebook.

  1. Click the grade link under the assignment title.



  2. If you selected this assignment for group submission, it will default to a listing of groups in the site. Click on the title of the group to view and grade the submission.


  3. The group submission will appear on the screen. Notice that the name of the group as well as the names of the students within that group are displayed at the top of the screen. Enter a Grade for the assignment and Instructor Summary Comments (optional). All students in the group will receive the same grade and comments by default. 

    If you would like to override the grade for any of the individual students within the group, select the Assign Grade Overrides option and enter the grade adjustments for the desired student or students. 


  4. Click Save and Release to Student to make grades and comments visible to students and to post in the Gradebook (if this grading option was chosen during assignment set-up).

    If you would like to override the group assignment instructor comments for an individual student, you may do this by going to the Gradebook, selecting the student, and editing the Comments for that student.


If you have a large course site, see Grading Multiple Assignment Submissions at Once for a more efficient workflow.

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Grading Multiple Assignment Submissions at Once

If an instructor has a large number of assignments to review and grade, it may be easier to export the assignment file, grade the submissions offline, then upload the grades and comments via a single zip archive file back into Sakai.

The files and folders in this zip archive must be labeled and organized in a certain way for the upload to be successful. For this reason, we recommend first using the Download All feature on the Assignment submissions page to download a zip archive file that is properly organized and includes all appropriate content.

Click here for thorough, step-by-step details on how to grade multiple assignment submissions at once.

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Tests & Quizzes

Best Practices for Using the Sakai Tests and Quizzes Tool

Sakai can appropriately deliver online tests, quizzes, and surveys for many situations at Notre Dame. The information provided here will help you avoid problems.

Encouraging academic honesty

  1. Use multiple versions - Create several versions of the assessment and assign them to separate groups.
  2. Deliver feedback afterwards - Do not provide answers immediately to individual students. The “specific date” feedback setting lets you display feedback after the “Retract” date. In some cases, you will also want to delay releasing the grade in the gradebook.
  3. Show answers in random order - When creating questions, you can specify that answers be shown in random order. Don’t use this with answers like “all of the above” or “B and C”.
  4. Draw questions at random - If you create “question pools,” you can tell Sakai to display a different randomly chosen set of items to each student.
  5. Randomize question order - When randomly drawing items from a pool, you can tell Sakai to display them in random order. (Note: you can convert existing questions into a pool) 


Limit the number of random draws! One or two of these on an assessment should be fine, but you may have problems with 60 items where each is a random draw from a pool of 10 Questions.

Live testing

Notre Dame does not have a dedicated testing facility with computers and proctors. As a result, some instructors ask students to bring laptops into the classroom to take a test or quiz with Sakai. It’s important to understand the limitations of that strategy.

Refer students to these Student Testing Tips to prepare for a smooth, successful online test experience.

Consider the following suggestions when designing and delivering your test:

  • Each Question on a Separate Page - Using this method the server saves entries automatically each time the student clicks Next or Previous. If all questions are on one web page, nothing is saved until the end of the test when the student clicks Save or Save and submit.
  • Power - there will not be enough outlets for everyone to plug in. Tell students to charge their batteries ahead of time AND have a backup plan in case they do not.
  • Wireless Internet - there may not be enough Internet bandwidth to handle a hundred students trying to take a test at the same time in one room.
  • Software - Students may need to install software on their laptops. Since each student's computer has a unique combination of hardware and software, the experience during the exam is harder to manage. Please use caution.
  • High Security - there are assessment settings which can allow you to 1) restrict an assessment to a certain location using IP addresses or 2) require a secondary username and password which you give students face-to-face. If you are considering the IP address option, consult the OIT regarding its feasibility in your situation.
  • Preparation - A week or more before giving a test in a classroom, have students bring in laptops and take a brief practice test. This ensures that they (1) have the proper software, (2) understand battery issues and (3) can use the Sakai tools. 

Help from the Kaneb Center -

Creating effective assessments involves more than subject area expertise. It also requires understanding of test construction. The Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning can help.

General tips:

  1. Align your test with student learning goals
  2. Multiple choice questions are easy to grade but it’s hard to write good questions
  3. A few good high-level questions may be more effective than a lot of low level questions.
  4. Learn the verbal cues to correct and incorrect answers: language, length, etc.

This document provides help in writing multiple choice questions (ND login required) -

Creating a Simple Assessment

The Tests & Quizzes tool enables you to create question-based online tests, practice exercises, surveys, and other forms of assessments. Customize the assessment to your needs using the numerous available settings.

  1. To create a new assessment, select Tests & Quizzes from the left-hand navigation bar.


  2. Enter an Assessment Title.

  3. You can Import an existing assessment from another course site in Sakai  or select a method for creating the assessment:

    • Create using assessment builder to compose new questions or design using question pools, or

    • Create using markup text to copy a complete assesssment from a Word document

      Tip: Once you create an assessment, you can easily reuse it by importing it, along with assignments, resources, etc. from a previous course site. See Importing Material from Previous Course Sites.

  4. An assessment type is an optional, customized collection of settings. You can Choose assessment type now or wait until later in the process to make your own settings selections. Creating an assessment type enables you to set only the parameters you need; all others can be turned off. See Configuring Assessment Settings.

Create an Assessment Using the Assessment Builder

Assessment builder is considered a standard approach to creating tests. Choose assessment builder when you want to create a test one question at a time.

  1. Select Create using assessment builder and click Create.


  2. Here you can begin adding questions, parts and/or pools.



  3. You can also configure settings at this point. 

Note: The assessment workflow is very flexible—these steps don’t have to occur all at once, or even in this exact order. Once you have created an assessment and it has “pending” (unpublished) status, you may edit or add questions/parts, select or change settings, preview, and publish at any point in time.

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Creating an Assessment Using Markup Text

This option enables you to use a single text box to enter one or more questions. This is appropriate for multiple choice, true/false, fill-in-the-blank, and short essay types of questions.

  1. Select Tests & Quizzes from the left-hand navigation bar.

  2. Enter an Assessment Title.

  3. Select Create using markup text and click Create.

    Note: An Assessment Type is an optional, pre-defined collection of settings. You can Choose assessment type now or wait until later in the process to make your own settings selections. Creating an assessment type enables you to set only the parameters you need; all others can be turned off.

  4. If you want to upload an existing quiz created in Word, copy and paste it into the Questions box and format it according to the Instructions & Examples links to the right of the Questions box, or enter questions and answers as desired. Click the links on the right side of the screen to view detailed instructions for each type of question you want to create.



  5. Click Next to preview the questions. Confirm that the correct points have been assigned to the questions and that the correct answer is indicated.



  6. Once confirmed, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click Create Assessment.

  7. Your newly-created assessment displays in the Working Copies tab. You will need to edit the settings for the assessment to indicate release and due dates, etc.



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Creating Question Pools

As the instructor, you can organize questions into question pools, enabling you to reuse questions in any site you own. You can also divide pools into subpools, allowing you to organize questions by subject matter, question type, or other criteria.


Important: When developing a single assessment, we do not recommend using more than five (5) parts and/or pools to randomize question delivery to individual students. More part and/or pools cause a performance drain on the system; therefore, your students may experience lag times while taking an assessment. The more complex the test structure is, the greater number of pools and/or parts, and the greater number of students simultaneously taking the test, the more likely it is that your students will experience lag times when opening the assessment and navigating through it.

To create a new question pool:

  1. From the Tests & Quizzes home page, select Question Pools.
  2. Click Add New Pool.


    The Add Pool screen displays.



  3. Enter a unique name for your pool in the Pool Name field.
  4. Complete the remaining optional fields as desired and click Save. You return to the Question Pools screen, where your pool displays under Pool Name.



Adding a Question Subpool

To add a new question subpool:

  1. Click Add below the pool name to which you want to add a subpool.
  2. Complete the fields on the Add Pool screen as you did when creating a pool.
  3. Click Save to return to the Question Pools screen. A image006 (right triangle) displays next to the pool name, indicating the presence of one or more subpools.



  4. Click image006 to expand the pool and view the subpool(s).



Adding Questions to a Question Pool

To add questions to your question pool:

  1. On the Question Pools screen, select the pool to which you want to add a question.
  2. To the right of # Questions, where # is the number of questions already in the pool or subpool, click Add Question.


    You can also add an additional subpool here, if desired.

  3. From the drop-down list, select a question type.



  4. Click Save. The options that display on the next screen depend on the type of question you are adding.
  5. Complete the options as necessary and click Save. You return to the main screen for your question pool.
  6. To add another question, click Add and repeat the steps above.

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Configuring Assessment Settings

Once you add parts and questions to the assessment, you configure settings to determine how the assessment will be delivered, presented, and submitted.

  1. Access the Settings screen in one of two ways:

    • From the Tests & Quizzes home page, select Settings from the Action drop-down menu corresponding to the assessment you want to edit,  or

    • Click the Settings link on the Questions screen.

    The available settings that display next depend on whether or not your assessment is published and which Assessment Type you use.

  2. Click arrow next to a setting name to expand each section for review.


    Details under each of these settings include:

    • About this Assessment

      • This is where you can change the title of your assessment if desired, and add authors' names.
        Optionally, you may also add a description. Anything you enter into the description field will be visible to students before they begin the assessment. Notice that the Rich Text Editor is available in the description field. You can attach a file if you like. The file could be a reference the students need to use during the test, or more detailed instructions on test taking requirements. 

    • Availability and Submissions 

      • This section controls when your assessment is available and which users have access to it.

      • Indicate the number of assessment submissions you will allow.

      • Indicate whether or not you will accept submissions after the due date; for example, a student missed an exam due to illness. Late submissions will be flagged during grading.

    • Grading and Feedback

      • Students’ Identities

        • Student identities can be seen by graders – Default

        • Anonymous grading only – BE VERY CAUTIOUS WHEN SELECTING THIS OPTION. Sakai assigns a randomly-generated number in place of the student name, which makes tracking the student and the grade very difficult. For example, if you were to select this option AND not have grades sent to the Gradebook, there would be no way of knowing which test was submitted by which student. 

      • Gradebook Options

        • None – Grades are not sent to the Gradebook.

        • Grades sent to Gradebook – Also creates a new item in the Gradebook.

        • Recorded Score if Multiple Submissions per User

          • Record the highest score

          • Record the last score

          • Record the average score

      • Feedback Options

        • The Immediate Feedback option is appropriate for self-study, as it immediately presents the student with feedback.

        • No Feedback will be displayed to the student – This option overrides all others; suppresses all feedback and scores.

        • When providing feedback you can show students only their assessment scores, or the assessment questions plus any other components under Release Questions and the following.


          Note: If you select any of the options under Release Questions and the following, students will also see the questions. To display scores only, select Only Release Student’s Assessment Scores (questions not shown).


      • Layout and Appearance

        • Question Layout – Select whether you want each question on a separate Web page, each part on a separate Web page, or display the complete assessment on one Web page. 


          Note: As a best practice we recommend selecting the option Each Question is on a separate Web page for the following reasons:

          • Students are more likely to see the Save button and choose to save their individual answers.

          • The server itself saves automatically when the student clicks Next or Previous.

          • When all questions are on the SAME Web page, the server has no record of any action on the page until the end of the assessment when the student clicks Save or Save and Submit (or both).

To save your settings, click Save Settings. You return to the Tests & Quizzes home page. To save settings and publish, click Save Settings and Publish.

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Adding Questions to an Assessment

You can add questions to a pending (unpublished) assessment as you create it or at any other time before publication. You can also create a new question to add or add an existing question from a Question Pool. You can also choose the part to which the question will be added.

Note: You cannot add questions to a published assessment.

To add a newly-created question to a pending assessment, select a question type from the Insert New Question drop-down list on the Questions screen.


The Edit Question screen that displays next is determined by the question type chosen. For purposes of this discussion, we walk through creating a Multiple Choice question, one of the most frequently utilized question types.

To create a Multiple Choice question:

  1. In the Answer Point Value field, enter the point value you want to assign to the question.
  2. In the Answer section, select one of the following:
    • Single Correct (default) – The question has only one correct response; incorrect answers are not worth negative points.
    • Single Correct, Enable Negative Marking – Select if you want incorrect answers to be worth negative points; enter the point amount in the field that displays.
    • Single Correct, Enable Partial Credit – Allow partial credit for incorrect answers.
    • Multiple Correct, Single Selection – Question has more than one correct response; students select only one answer.
    • Multiple Correct, Multiple Selection – Question has more than one correct response; students select more than one answer.
  3. Enter the question in the Question Text box.
  4. Click Add Attachments to add any number of images, files, web site links, etc. to the question. See Adding Attachments to an Assessment Question.



  5. In the text boxes that follow, enter the possible answers.
    • To indicate a correct response or multiple correct responses, select the Correct Answer where appropriate.
    • If you plan to give partial credit to an incorrect answer, indicate the percentage of the Answer Point Value for that response in the % Value field that displays next to the question text box.


      Click Reset Score Values to clear percentages for all responses.
      Note: By default, you cannot enter partial credit for a correct answer.
      • To display fewer possible answers, click Remove beneath the boxes you want removed.
      • To display more possible answers, select the appropriate number from the Insert Additional Answers drop-down list.
  6. To display the possible answers in random order, select Yes under Randomize Answers. To display answers in the order in which you entered them, select No (default).
  7. If you want students to provide a rationale for choosing an answer, select Yes under Require Rationale.
  8. If you want to assign this question to a specific part (i.e., quiz section) select the part from the Assign to Part drop-down list. Leave this as Default if you haven’t created any parts.
    Note: Parts are used when drawing questions from multiple question pools. Each question pool will be assigned to a unique part.
  9. To assign this question to a question pool, select the pool name from the Assign to Question Pool drop-down list.
  10. Under Correct/Incorrect Answer Feedback, provide question-level feedback, if desired.
  11. Click Save. You return to the Questions screen where the new question displays in the appropriate part and in the appropriate order in the assessment.



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Using a Student Audio Response Question

Recording audio is a powerful tool for content delivery, providing feedback, and student assignments. For example, instructors might record messages, assignment feedback, or short lectures for individual students or an entire class. Students record themselves to practice a foreign language, create a presentation, or introduce themselves to their colleagues.

The preferred formats are .MP3 or .WAV. These file extensions will play in most players and can be used in Sakai easily. You cannot record a question using the Audio Response question type, but you can use the Media Gallery tool in Sakai to record and insert audio into the question.

Creating an Audio Response Question

  1. From your assessment in progress, select Student Audio Response from the Insert New Question drop-down list.
    The Edit Question dialog displays.


  2. In the Answer Point Value field, enter the point value you want to assign to the question.
  3. Enter the question in the Question Text box.
  4. To add one or more attachments, including a pre-recorded audio file, click Add Attachments.
    Note: You cannot record a question within the Audio Response question type. Only students can record audio responses. You can attach a pre-recorded file or use the Media Gallery tool in Sakai to record and attach an audio file.
  5. In the Time allowed (seconds) field, enter the amount of time, in seconds, students have to record their answer.
  6. Enter the number of times students are allowed to re-record an answer in the Number of attempts field.
  7. Optional:
    • To assign the question to another part in the assessment, select the part from the Assign to Part drop-down menu.
    • To assign this question to a question pool, select the desired pool from the Assign to question pool drop-down menu.
    • Enter Feedback.
  8. Click Save.

Grading an Audio Response

  1. Follow the instructions for grading either by student or by question in Grading in Tests & Quizzes.
  2. Click the Play button on the Quick Time Player that displays beneath the question.


  3. Click the link, as indicated, if you have difficulty playing back the recording. The file is saved as a VLC media file (.au). It can be played in the VLC media player, Windows Media Player, Real Player, or QuickTime Player.

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Adding Attachments to an Assessment Question

You can add images and/or additional documentation as an attachment to supplement any test/quiz question.

  1. From the course site in which you want to add an attachment, select Tests & Quizzes from the left-hand navigation menu.
  2. To create a new question, see Adding Questions to an Assessment. To add an attachment to an existing question, click Edit from the Select Action drop-down list corresponding with the desired pending or published assessment.
    The Attachments option displays just below the Question Text box within each question type.



  3. Click Add Attachments.
  4. The Add Attachment screen displays, giving you the option of attaching a file from your local drive or a copy of a file already in Resources.


    • To upload a file from your local drive, click Browse and navigate to the desired file.
    • To add a URL (web link) enter the web address in the URL field.
    • To select an existing resource, click Attach a copy under the Actions column.
  5. Click Add after each addition. The selected attachments display near the top of the screen.



  6. Click Continue. You return to the Tests & Quizzes screen, where your attachment file names display.



  7. Click Save to return to your assessment. 
  8. Resume creating or editing your assessment.

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Insert an Image Into a Test or Quiz Question

Images are used frequently in test construction. In addition to attaching images (and documents) to an assessment, you can enhance individual questions by including an image as part of a question, answer, and/or feedback text.

Step One: Upload the images you want to use in a test or quiz to your Sakai site:

  1. From the course site in which you want to use the image, select Tests & Quizzes from the left-hand navigation menu.
  2. Upload your image file(s) to the Resources folder.
    Note: Set both the folder permissions and individual image permissions to publicly viewable. This ensures the availability of the images in future course sites.


Step Two: Create the questions and add the image.

  1. To create a new question, see Adding Questions to an Assessment.
  2. Enter the question in the Question Text field. Format as needed, depending on the Question Type chosen.


  3. Click the Show/Hide Rich-Text Editor link.
  4. Click test_and_quiz_add_image_to_q3 (Image).


    The Image Properties dialog displays.


  5. Click Browse Server and navigate to the image you want to insert from the course site’s Resources folder and click OK.


    The image displays in the Question Text box. Click the image to size as desired.


  6. To include an image as part of an answer or feedback, click Show/Hide Rich-Text Editor above any answer box and continue as above.
  7. To add an image or document as an attachment, see Adding Attachments to an Assessment Question.

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Adding Parts to an Assessment

An assessment can include as many parts (e.g., sections) as you’d like but it must include at least one part. When you create a new assessment, a part called Default is created automatically. If left as Default, that title will not appear on your assessment; to change the part's name, click Edit. You can begin adding questions immediately to Default or you can add your own parts.

To add a part to your assessment:

  1. On the Questions screen, click Add Part.
    For a pending assessment, select Edit from the Select Action drop-down list on the Tests & Quizzes home page and then click Add Part.
  2. Enter a name for the part in the Title field.
  3. If desired, enter instructions or other information for the part in the Information field.
  4. If desired, include any attachments (e.g., images, documents) by clicking Add Attachments.
  5. In the Type section, select either Questions authored one-by-one (you will author one question at a time) or Random draw from question pool to select from a pool of existing questions.
    • If you selected Questions authored one-by-one, go to Question ordering and select an option.
    • If you selected Random draw from question pool,
      1. Select the appropriate pool from the Pool name drop-down list.
      2. Indicate the Number of questions to be drawn from the pool.
      3. If desired, enter a new point value in the Point value of questions field to override the point value currently assigned to all questions in the pool.
      4. If appropriate, enter a Negative point value for incorrect answer selection.
      5. Select a Type of randomization.
  6. Under Metadata, enter specific objectives, keywords, and rubrics to be used for search and categorization purposes (optional).
  7. Click Save when finished. Scroll to the bottom of the Questions page to view your new part.



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Copying a Question from a Question Pool to an Assessment

When adding questions to an assessment, one of the options when selecting an assessment type is Copy from Question Pool.

To copy one or more questions from a question pool:

  1. Select Copy from Question Pool from the Add Question drop-down list.


    The list of available pools displays. If a image002 (right arrow) displays next to the pool name, click it to display subpools. 



  2. Click the name of the pool or subpool containing the question you want to add. The Question Pool screen displays.
  3. Select the Copy check box for each question you want to copy from the pool.



  4. At the bottom of the screen, select the part of the assessment to which you want to add this question from the Assign to Part drop-down list.
  5. Click Copy. The Questions screen displays with the copied questions added.

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Previewing and Publishing an Assessment

When you are finished entering questions and adjusting your settings, preview and then publish your assessment.

  1. Use one of the following methods to access the Preview option:
    • Near the top of the assessment, select Preview in the gray tool bar.


    • From the Working Copies tab, select Preview from the Select Action drop-down list.



  2. Click Begin Assessment to view the assessment as a student.
  3. Click Done when finished. If necessary, make any edits to your assessment before publishing.
  4. From your assessment, click Publish in the gray tool bar.
  5. Confirm your settings and click Publish.



When you publish an assessment, a copy of that assessment moves to the Published Copies tab. If you need to edit a published assessment, see Editing a Published Assessment below.

Note: We highly recommend creating a demo Student account for yourself so that you can test your assessment. Log in through your Guest (demo Student) account, take the assessment, and submit it. Grade the assessment using your primary netID account. Do this before announcing or publishing the assessment so you can make any necessary changes before officially releasing it.

Editing a Published Assessment

You can edit a published assessment if the question requiring modification is NOT in a pool and you want to re-grade the assessment. For future exams, edit the question in the pool or in the Working Copy of the assessment and publish under a new name.

  1. From the Select Action drop-down menu for the assessment you want to modify, select Edit.



  2. On the Edit Assessment Confirmation page, click Edit again.
  3. Your assessment displays with a message indicating it has been retracted from student view.



  4. You are now able to edit settings, parts, and questions as needed. Note the following:
    • If students have already submitted their tests, your changes will re-grade their assessments and update their scores.
    • If test-taking is in progress students can continue taking the test without interruptions. Any modifications will be applied once students submit their assessment answers.
    • When you publish an assessment a copy remains in the Working Copies tab. You can modify this unpublished version but you must rename the assessment before republishing it. When published, this creates another copy under Published Copies and will not replace the existing published copy.
  5. Click Republish if no assessments have been submitted yet, or click Regrade and Republish if assessments have been submitted.

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Allowing a Student to Retake an Assessment

You may allow one or more students to resubmit an assessment without re-releasing the assessment to the entire class. You will use the Allow Retake link next to each student’s Email link on the Submission Status screen to do so. If the Retract Date has passed, students will not see the assessment title and you will need to adjust that date to make the assessment available to the student(s).

If you allow a student to retake an assessment, the resubmitted assessment score overrides the previous score depending on the settings. For example, if you allowed only one submission, the resubmitted assessment score overrides the previous score; however, if you allowed multiple submissions with the average or highest score recorded, the resubmitted assessment score will be included in the total submission calculations.

The following are examples of how settings affect outcomes and may need to be modified:

  • If multiple attempts are available on a test, the student(s) must have used all attempts before the Allow Retake link is visible.

  • If the Due Date for an assessment has passed and you chose to accept late submissions, the Allow Retake link displays for any student who has submitted the assessment at least once.

  • If the Due Date has passed and you chose NOT to accept late submissions, the Allow Retake link displays for all students--even for those who did not submit.

  • If the Due Date has passed but not the Retract Date, you can allow a student as many retakes as desired, if the student has already used all attempts.

  • If the Due Date and Retract Dates have passed, students cannot submit an assessment for the first time unless you allow a retake and adjust the Retract Dates setting.

Remember that if you released the scores and feedback upon submission, the student may have already seen the correct answers, etc. If you are not releasing the scores and feedback until a later date, you know that the student doesn't have the advantage of having seen the correct answers.

  1. From the Published Copies tab in the Tests & Quizzes tool, select Scores from the Select Action drop-down list corresponding to the desired Active or Inactive assessment.

  2. Click the Submission Status link.


  3. The Allow retake link displays for any student who has submitted the assessment. Click this link for any student(s) you are allowing to retake the quiz or test.



  4. Click Retake to confirm.
    The assessment now displays under Take an Assessment on the student’s Assessments screen.



Allow a Student Who Missed an Assessment to Take it at a Later Date

If a student missed an assessment and you want to open it up so that she/he can take it, do the following:

  1. From the Published Copies tab, select Settings from the Select Action drop-down list corresponding to the desired assessment.

  2. Under Delivery Dates, change the settings so that the dates available match what you want to provide for this student.

  3. Click Save Settings when finished.

  4. Continue with the steps to allow retakes above.

Note: This process makes the assessment available to all students who did not take the assessment if you are allowing one submission, and all students who have not yet reached their submission limit if you are allowing multiple submissions.

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Grading in Tests & Quizzes – Short Answer/Essay

To grade an assessment that requires reading online student submissions:

  1. Choose the assessment you want to grade from the Published Copies tab.  You may grade at any time after one student has submitted a test.



  2. Click on the blue Submitted number to open the Total Scores screen. (You can also get to the scoring screen by selecting Scores from the test’s dropdown menu; however this link is not visible until at least one student has submitted the test).

Two methods exist for grading

  • By Question

  • By Student

It often makes more sense to grade all submissions for a certain question in order to ensure even and fair grading of that question. This would imply that the Instructor does not begin grading until all submissions are received.

If your circumstances make it easier to grade the short answer/essay portion per student as students submit their assessment, then follow the workflow for Grade by Student below.

To Grade by Question:

  1. Click the Questions link at the top of the Submissions page. From this screen, you can choose the question number link to grade every student entry, organized by question.



  2. Display the entire student entry by choosing Response Inline from the View dropdown menu.



  3. Enter a score for the submission. Click in the Comments for Student field to add your comments as needed.

  4. Once finished with all grading for that question, scroll to bottom of the screen and click Update. Proceed to the next question by clicking on the question number  along the top of the screen.

To Grade by Student:

  1. From the Total Scores screen, click on the Student’s name to review their test in its entirety.



  2. Grade the work.



  3. Enter comments for their work on the entire test in the top Comments for Student field. Evaluate their individual answers using the score and comments field for each question.

  4. Scroll to the bottom of the screen and click Update to save your entries.

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