How can I add a punitive column in Brightspace with no weight value?

Tom.E.500 Posts: 3 🔍
Backstory: Students are allowed three absences before it affects their final grade. Every absence after three removes five points from their final grade. There is no credit for attending class (no weight), just a punitive value if a student misses more than three sessions, although they can get points added to their grade if they do not use absences.

0 absences: 3 points are added to the final grade
1 absence: 2 points are added to the final grade
2 absences: 1 point is added to the final grade
3 absences: 0 points are added to the final grade
4 absences: 5 points are deducted from the final grade
5 absences: 10 points are deducted from the final grade

In Blackboard I was able to create a new grade column that took a student's current grade and added it to another column that had a positive or negative number in it which showed a student their actual grade. I named the column FINAL GRADE and students were able to see their actual current grade which included attendance points. Quite simple, a few clicks and done.

In Brightspace I am being told I need to come up with a complex formula that I must add my grade items to along with each of their overall percentages and try to get that to combine with the negative column (which does not compute because of a 0 weight). This will not work for me as some semesters have more or fewer projects, tests, etc. (gradable items with different percentages) than others which means I would have to redo the complex formula each semester. It also does not work because it relies on all 100 points to be available to take off the proper amount - students will not see their actual grade throughout the semester . . . which is what is happening now.

Any help would be appreciated - thank you in advance!


  • Matt.W.287

    Hi Tom

    Sorry to say I just did a bit of testing and I don't see a 'proper' way to achieve this without formulas in weighted grades.

    The issue is that the grades are stored in the database as a numerator and denominator (a pair of fields). So you have to be careful how many points you assign to things as the proportional impact must be considered.

    Rubrics would be the best place to enter this sort of data, but unfortunately negative values aren't currently permitted in Rubrics. If they were, then you could make a grade item out of 3 points* and set it as "bonus". Then create a rubric with the levels matching the number of days absent that you're measuring for. The different levels would be for each of the number of points you're awarding or deducting.

    At present though, you can create a grade item worth 3 points* and set it as "bonus" as above. Then if you have someone with 1 absence then you enter their grade as 2/3. If they have 4 absences then you enter their grade as -5/3 (according to the points scale you mentioned).

    *This only works if the remainder of the course is 100 points… otherwise you have to work out what sort of "percentage bonus/penalty" applies.

    I hope this is helpful. I would recommend you submit a PIE item to allow Rubrics to accept negative points. That way they apply to the overall score but you can just click the number of days shown in the Rubric.

    Best regards
    Learning Administration Manager

  • Tom.E.500
    Tom.E.500 Posts: 3 🔍

    Hi Matt,

    Thank you for your time, it is very much appreciated. I have been through the same exploration you have (hours!) and found many of the same issues - especially the fact that the grade must show 100% of the graded items or a much more complex method must be applied . . . which would have to be changed every time a new item is graded.

    It is unfortunate that a simple task is this complex, but perhaps future versions will make these types of tasks a lot simpler. Thank you again for your efforts and feedback!

    All the best,