03 Jan UW-Madison’s move to online grading goes smoothly
Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison received their grades online for the first time in December. An electronic grading system was developed and implemented by a team of staff members from the University’s Division of Information Technology and the Office of the Registrar.
“We worked out what we wanted to make available … in terms of what we would release to instructors,” said Connie Chatman, manager for student records in the Office of the Registrar. The team created a pilot that it gave to the instructors of several summer and early-ending fall courses.
Starting with a PeopleSoft module, they added extensions to fit their needs, Chatman said. In addition, the Office of the Registrar and DoIT team developed the e-grading system so that grades calculated using the University-developed application Learn@UW could be easily imported into grading rosters. Learn@UW provides instructors with several teaching tools that can be implemented into courses, including one that allows for the final calculation of grades.
Using the My UW-Madison portal or the Learn@UW site, professors and teaching staff accessed their electronic grade rosters beginning the December 13 and were able to submit their students’ final grades electronically to the Office of the Registrar.
Though the deadline for final grades to be submitted was 96 hours after each course’s final examination, faculty requested and were granted an extension because of the University holiday. The Office of the Registrar posted the grades nightly, and students were able to view them the next day using My UW-Madison, rather than waiting for paper notices to be mailed to them.
The e-grading system has not replaced grade-change forms. Professors still need to use paper forms to correct errors. But the e-grading system allows the university teaching staff to change grade rosters up until they are submitted to the Registrar’s Office and posted.
According to the Office of the Registrar’s e-grading update from November 2004, “Electronic grading is in some ways more secure than the paper grade list process – accessed only by the instructor and not susceptible to the likelihood of paper lists floating around or getting lost.”
In addition to being secure, the e-Grading system was designed to be flexible enough to fit the needs of each department and staff member. Departments determine their own defaults for access and grade approval, and coordinate the communication of grades between faculty and teaching assistants. The system also provides templates for staff members who prefer to enter grades into Excel spreadsheets, so the data will be compatible with the grading system.
e-Grading allows teaching staff to enter grades at any location with Internet access, without being concerned about submitting paper rosters to the right place. Students are able to receive their grades faster, and the administration of every department is able to archive grades electronically, saving time, money, and file space.
“We didn’t have to generate paper rosters and deliver them, so we realized a lot of efficiencies that we hoped to achieve through this process,” said Chatman.