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Gradebook2 FAQ: How should I include extra credit items in weighted categories?

Jim Mezzanotte
posted this on May 15, 2012 08:14 AM

In Gradebook2, you can include extra credit items in weighted categories. Scores for these items will add to the course grade but will not have a negative impact on the grade.

There are two approaches to including extra credit items in weighted categories:

  • Include an extra credit item in a category that is NOT set up for extra credit.
  • Create a category that is set up for extra credit.

Each of these approaches can yield different results--and the approach that works best for you will largely depend on your goals in using extra credit.

How extra credit gets calculated
Before we further explore these two approaches, let’s review how extra credit is calculated when you’ve set up your gradebook for weighted categories.

The maximum possible points an extra credit item can contribute is determined by its weight in the gradebook. This weight is calculated as follows:

relative weight in category x category weight in gradebook = item weight in gradebook


Let’s say an extra credit item has a relative weight of 10% in a category, and the category has a weight of 30% in the gradebook. The most extra credit this item can contribute is:

10% relative weight x 30% category weight = 3 extra credit points




Including an extra credit item in a non-extra credit category
With this approach, the extra credit is part of what the category contributes to the calculation of all non-extra credit scores. So keep in mind the following:

  • Extra credit points will never result in a calculated grade that exceeds the grade scale. If your gradebook is based on the default 100-point scale, for example, the calculated grade will never be more than 100, no matter how much extra credit you add to a category.

  • Some students may not receive the maximum possible extra credit. If an extra credit item contributes a large amount of points--and/or if a student has earned high scores for the other items in the category--the extra credit could get capped. Using the above example, let’s say a student earns a total of 29 points for non-extra credit items. The category contributes a total of 30 points--so even with a maximum score for the extra credit item, the student will only earn 1 point of extra credit.

Another factor to consider is how the CLE calculates course grades to date when you have not yet entered scores in some categories. If a category contains no scored items, the CLE ignores that category and increases the weights of the other categories to equal 100% of the gradebook. Again using the above example, if the category weight increases from 30% to 50%, then the total possible extra credit also increases, to 5 points.

(To learn more about grade calculation for weighted categories, see What factors affect course grade when I use weighted categories?)

For some goals, this extra credit approach may work best. You might not want extra credit points that exceed the 100-point grade scale. Or, you might want extra credit that is primarily meant to help low-scoring students improve their grades.

Creating an extra credit category
With this approach, all items in the category are extra credit, and the category contributes additional points to the calculation of all non-extra credit scores.

When you set a weighted category to be extra credit, the category’s weight in the gradebook determines how many possible points it can add to the course grade. If a category has a weight of 20% in the gradebook, it can add a possible total of 20 extra credit points.




All items included in an extra credit category will be extra credit. As with the first approach to extra credit, the total possible extra credit for each item is determined by its relative weight in the category and the category weight in the gradebook.




So if an item has a relative weight of 50% in the category, and the category has a weight of 20% in the gradebook, the item can contribute:

50% relative weight x 20% category weight = 10 extra credit points


In the example above, the category is set for equally weighted items. But you can also set up an extra credit category for items that are not equally weighted, so that some items contribute more extra credit points than others.

When using this approach, keep in mind the following:

  • Regardless of how many items have been scored in other categories, the total contribution of an extra credit category remains the same.

  • Depending on a student’s scores, the extra credit may result in a course grade that exceeds the grade scale. Let’s assume the gradebook is based on the default 100-point scale. If a student has a course grade of 90 and earns an additional 20 points in an extra credit category, that student’s course grade will be 110.

Lastly, keep in mind that the Scale extra credit setting for the gradebook will also affect how each item in the category contributes extra credit points. You’ll find this setting in the Set Up Gradebook panel:




Your choice for this setting will affect the calculation for extra credit in the following ways:

  • If you select this setting, the CLE respects the relative weights of the items in the category, in the same way as items in non-extra credit categories. So if all the items in the category are not scored, the CLE ignores items that are not scored, and increases the relative weights of the scored items to equal 100% of the category.

  • If you do not select this setting, the CLE does not adjust the relative weights of items, even if some items in the category have not been scored. Each scored item will result in a fixed, incremental increase to the course grade.

Using the example above, let’s say you’ve got two items in an extra credit category that has a weight of 20% in gradebook. The items are equally weighted, so each item can contribute 10 points to the course grade. What happens if you score only one of the items?

  • If you selected “Scale extra credit,” the CLE ignores the unscored item and increases the relative weight of the scored item to 100% of the category--so the item can contribute a possible 20 points.

  • If you did not select this setting, the CLE makes no weight adjustment, so the item can only contribute a possible 10 points.

For some goals, creating an extra credit category might be the more suitable approach. You may not want extra credit points to be potentially capped, for example, and you may also want to add extra credit in specific, incremental amounts that are not affected by other scores in the gradebook.