Like many of its counterparts around the country, the UC Davis Office of the Registrar has offered electronic alternatives to paper grade submission for a number of years, and already roughly 50% of all UC Davis grades are submitted electronically. Victoria Cross, the Educational Technology Coordinator with the Teaching Resources Center (TRC), notes that "e-grading technologies have matured to the point that they are secure, reliable, and can be used for such sensitive data." The time has come to eliminate non-electronic options and to utilize fully the two on-line grade submission processes available to UC Davis faculty. Starting this quarter, online submission will be the exclusive method of grade submission at UC Davis.
Interim Registrar Lora Jo Bossio expects greater accuracy from this change, as well as faster grade reporting to students. Bossio believes the on-line processes have significant advantages over the paper system for everyone involved. Cross concurs: "Most instructors have found the new tool very easy to use. They are excited at being able to easily access the grades from past quarters." Departments will also benefit. MSOs can now be notified electronically when instructors have submitted their grades; they can check the status of grade submission for each instructor, and view grades from previous quarters, all via the Web.
As with most transitions, a number of preparatory steps are recommended. First, to protect the privacy of student electronic records, the Web-based options will require instructors to authenticate themselves using their UC Davis Login IDs and passwords. And just as paper scantron forms required the instructor-of-record's signature, only the instructor-of-record may submit final grades electronically. To prevent confusion for team-taught classes and classes in which the professor who teaches the course is not the instruc tor-of-record, instructors should contact their department MSOs to verify the official course listings. What's more, electronic grade submission is a multi-step process, and Cross points out that instructors "should be sure to click on the final 'Submit to Registrar'" link to ensure the entered grades are recorded.
GradeBook and its Alternative
Many instructors use the MyUCDavis GradeBook to track assignment grades throughout the quarter and to submit final grades. First implemented during Fall 2000, GradeBook functions as a complete class record-keeping system and has become quite popular; in Spring of last year, 3,049 GradeBooks were in use. This is due, in large part, to the program's functionality. GradeBook automatically creates a grading template--complete with students' names--for each class; the instructor simply adds assignments and inputs scores or letter grades over the course of the quarter. The program can also be used to submit final grades alone. Novice GradeBook users will be glad to learn that class grades can be entered segmentally before being submitted altogether.
As an alternative to GradeBook, IET Mediaworks has created a simple Web-based tool specifically dedicated to submitting final grades. At classes.ucdavis.edu/grading, instructors can enter grades manually for each student, or download a class roster as an Excel spreadsheet, fill in the grades, and upload it. Given its simplicity, this option is recommended for instructors new to online grade submission.
Help is On the Way
Instructors wanting assistance with this new technology have, reports Mediaworks Manager, Kirk Alexander, "a wealth of resources available to them. And this quarter, various campus departments have joined forces to bring help to first-time e-grade users." During the last week of classes, the TRC (trc.ucdavis.edu/trc/) will be offering 20-minute training sessions covering use of the Final Grade Submission Tool, and during finals week a drop-in "Grading Clinic." Additionally, one-on-one assistance is available through IET's ET Partners Program (etpartners.ucdavis.edu/) and through departmental Technology Support Coordinators (tsp.ucdavis.edu/). Finally, the IT Express Help Desk (754-HELP) provides assistance by email, by phone, and at their office in Shields Library. Instructors wanting to learn more about the electronic grade-submission process are encouraged to contact one of these organizations and to visit classes.ucdavis.edu/grading for a complete list of Fall quarter grading help resources.