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Grade Keeping Programs

One of the hardest things about teaching is the evaluation of student work.  The next hardest thing about teaching is keeping track of students’ grades. Educators today have many effective ways to track student progress.  Some professors use the the old skool method of keeping a gradebook (or a piece of paper) that lists students’ grades.  Other educators use Excel spreadsheets to keep track of students and their grades.  The technologically savvy instructors use course management systems (CMS), WebCT, Blackboard, or eCollege, as they have built-in grade keeping programs that link assignments with grades (percentages or points).

  

Each of these methods has drawbacks:  you could lose that piece of paper (that’s happened to me).  You could not understand Excel well enough to know how to create the formulas necessary to calculate the grades (that’s  happened to me).  Course Management Systems can be cumbersome to navigate (at least the first time), and the learning curve on these systems can be steep (yes, that’s happened to me, and I consider myself technologically savvy).

There are other programs that balance the three styles mentioned here.  Such programs keep the simplicity of an old skool gradebook, they can calculate grades like Excel, and they can provide similar reports that CMS programs offer.  Gradekeeper is an inexpensive software program that makes keeping track of students’ grades an easy experience. Classroom Gradebook is another.

Many elementary and secondary school teachers use these and other similar programs (indeed, the marketing for these programs is geared to this audience group), but this is not to say that university faculty can’t also use them.  They are easy to configure and can save you time.  Many of these programs can also sync to your smartphone, helping your productivity when you are away from the office.

The programs can provide charts and graphs, if those are helpful to you (as in this one from Classroom Gradebook):

graph classroom

Set up for each of these programs is as simple as completing a form (as in this Gradekeeper example):

gradekeeper options

Gradekeeper is a simple program that offers an educator many tools.  On the other hand, Classroom Gradebook is a little more robust, as it can provide graphs and charts depicting grade ranges for an assignment or a class.  Gradekeeper is Windows, Mac, Palm OS, and Windows Mobile compatible.  Classroom Gradebook is a Windows only software. Neither program is iPhone compatible (not yet, anyway).

Both programs offer free evaluation.  After a 30-day trial period, Gradekeeper will cost you $20 for an individual license.  After a 45-day trial period, an individual license for Classroom Gradebook costs $19.95.  This is not much money for a program that can simplify your grading life.

I have used both of these programs at different times and I like them both.  They are easy, they connect to my phone, and I’m not apt to lose both the phone and my computer (there is always a backup).  How do you keep track of student grades?  What methods are most effective for you?   Do you support one type of recordkeeping over another?  Please leave comments below.

[Image by flickr user Cat Sidh / CC licensed]

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