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  3. Gradebook Display: Why Is My Gradebook Displaying All Failing “F” Grades?

Gradebook Display: Why Is My Gradebook Displaying All Failing “F” Grades?

Gradebook Display: Why Is My Gradebook Displaying All Failing “F” Grades?

When you first start populating your gradebook with grade items, depending on the settings you’ve selected (or settings that have been selected by default), you may see a series of failing (F) grades for all students in your course.  This can not only be quite disconcerting for faculty, but it can also confuse students, too! 

This article explains the two options Instructors can choose between when deciding how to approach ungraded items in their gradebook (this includes tasks students have not yet completed and/or tasks for which students did not submit their work or achieved a zero).

Option 1:  Treat Ungraded Items as 0

Courses in which all ungraded items have been replaced with a zero (0) and or an F (if letter grades are displayed) have the setting Treat ungraded items as 0 selected. Tasks that have not (yet) been completed (and grades that have not yet been entered) will be given an initial value of 0 and/or an “F” in the gradebook.  If the colour scheme is turned on, the red/pink colour will also be visible to students/instructors.  *Thus, at the start of the term, since students have not yet completed any tasks in the course, all ungraded items will have an initial grade of 0.*

This option allows students to see their current score with respect to the total weight of the course.  For example, if the gradebook weight adds up to 100%, the students’ Final Calculated Grade will always be shown as a number /100.  The numerator will represent their current (accurate) percentage in the course based on what they have accomplished thus far in the course.

Image of a gradebook filled with 0s
View of a gradebook using “Treat ungraded items as 0” at the beginning of the term.

Advantages of Using the “Treat Ungraded Items as 0” Setting

  • The grade displayed in the Final Calculated Grade column will always reflect the students’ current grade in the course with respect to the 100% weight (rather than a running total that may erroneously inflate students’ grades if zeros are not entered for tasks that were not submitted or where the student received a 0).
  • Instructors will not need to go back at the end of the term and enter a zero in all grade items/columns for each student who did not submit work or who achieved a zero on a particular task/grade item (this has already been accomplished by the Treat ungraded items as 0 setting).

Disadvantages of Using the “Treat Ungraded Items as 0” Setting

  • A gradebook full of “failing” grades (and the associated pink/red colour scheme) can be very intimidating unless the setting is explained to students at the beginning of the course.
  • Students sometimes wish to know what their current grade is worth with respect to the number of tasks they have completed.  Thus, rather than a grade /100 (out of the total weight of the course), students may want to know their grade based on the portion of the course they have completed.  For example, if they have completed two tasks in the course, one worth 10% and one worth 15%, students may wish to see their grade /25 (only 25% of the course has been completed) rather than /100.  They will need to perform this calculation manually.

Gradebook Appearance at the End of the Term Using the “Treat Ungraded Items As 0” Setting

Image showing the appearance of a final gradebook.  Zeros were in-place by default.
By default, all tasks receive an initial value of 0. By the end of term, the rest of the grades have been entered.

Option 2:  Drop Ungraded Items

Gradebooks with the Drop ungraded items setting selected will present students and instructors with a running total of grades students have achieved in a course at a given point in the term. For example, if a student has completed a quiz worth 20% of the course, the grade in the Final Calculated Grade column will be a grade /20.

Tasks that have not (yet) been completed (and grades that have not yet been entered) are ignored by the gradebook.  This option allows students to see the current portion of the course they’ve completed and the grades they’ve achieved to date.  All other grades are represented by a dash (-) symbol and are not counted towards students’ Final Calculated Grade.

Image of a gradebook with dashes in place of 0s
View of a gradebook using “Drop ungraded items” at the beginning of the term.

Advantages of Using the “Drop Ungraded Items” Setting

  • The gradebook is not as intimidating to students at the beginning of the term.
  • The grade in the Final Calculated Grade column reflects the number of tasks/grades a student has achieved thus far.  For example, a grade of 8/10 in the Final Calculated Grade column indicates that the student has only completed 10% of the course.  This encourages students to be mindful of the number of tasks they have yet to complete in the course.

Disadvantages of Using the “Drop Ungraded Items” Setting

  • If a student does not submit work for a particular assignment, unless a grade of zero is entered in that particular grade column, students’ Final Calculated Grade may be erroneously inflated.
  • If students in your course have skipped certain tasks and completed others, students’ grades in the Final Calculated Grade column may not all have the same value.  For example, if Student A has completed all three assigned tasks thus far and the tasks are worth a total of 30% (let’s assume 10% each), Student A’s Final Calculated Grade will be /30.  If Student B skipped one task, their Final Calculated Grade will be /20.
  • For final grades to be correct, instructors need to go back at the end of the course and enter a zero in all grade items/columns for each student who did not submit work or who achieved a zero on a particular task/grade item.

Gradebook Appearance at the End of the Term Using the “Drop Ungraded Items” Setting

At the end of the term, when opting to use the Drop ungraded items setting, a complete gradebook should have numbers in every column and every grade item for each student in the course.  Any grade items with a dash (“-“) will be ignored by Brightspace and must be replaced by a zero (0).

Image showing the appearance of a final gradebook where zeroes have been entered in place of dashes
Make sure you enter a 0 for each task or grade item a student did not complete (or achieved a score of 0)

Note:

At the end of term, both gradebooks are identical.  Regardless of the setting instructors choose, as long as a grade of 0 is present for grade items/tasks that were not completed (or tasks in which a student achieved a 0 grade), the gradebook will calculate student grades correctly. 

Where Can I Find/Change These Settings?

To change this setting in your gradebook, please follow the steps below:

1. Click on Settings (in blue) in the top right corner of your gradebook.  (You can find Settings both on the “Enter Grades” and “Manage Grades” screens).

2. Click on the Calculations Options tab

Image of the gradebook Settings page
Calculation Options tab

3.  Scroll down to the Grade Calculations section and select either Drop ungraded items or Treat ungraded items as 0 depending on how you’d like ungraded items to be displayed.

4.  Click the blue Save button

5.  Navigate back to your Grades page to view your changes

Image of the Grade Calculations section of the settings page
Decide whether to “Drop ungraded items” or “Treat ungraded items as 0”

 

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