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Helping Students Visualize Their Grade Performance

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Computers in Education Poster Session

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.683.1 - 11.683.12



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Paper Authors

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Will Humphries Virginia Tech

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Justin Gawrilow Virginia Tech

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Manuel Perez-Quinones Virginia Tech

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Scott Turner Virginia Tech

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Stephen Edwards Virginia Tech

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Helping Students Visualize Their Grade Performance


This paper discusses the design of visualizations of student grade performance. A needs analysis identified five qualities of performance that students and faculty believe to be important. These were used as requirements for the design of several visualizations. These visualizations were implemented as an integrated feature of the electronic grade book of a popular Course Management System (Moodle). This paper discusses the motivations for our work, the qualities of performance identified, the implemented visualizations, and an initial evaluation of their utility.

1. Introduction

Many professors frequently hear questions from their students regarding their performance in a course. Students often want to know what grade they have so far, what their likely final grade will be in the course, how they are doing in comparison with their peers, etc. It is important for students to self-assess and to have a grounded understanding of their actual performance in a class. Yet students rarely seem to get such an understanding just by looking at their assignment scores. Some students bring such questions to the professor, but providing answers requires making educated guesses as to how a student will perform on future work. A series of good visualizations based on student data in the course can help answer these questions for students.

In this paper, we present an analysis of student needs when self-assessing their performance in class. The analysis was intended to identify what student performance attributes, or qualities of performance, were most used by students. We also present visualizations designed and evaluated based on their ability to help students meet those needs. We integrated these visualizations into a course management system called Moodle4 to help address student and faculty needs.

A common feature of course management systems (CMS) is the ability of students to view their grades in a current class. This data is traditionally presented in a tabular format showing the student’s score on each assignment. Moodle, an open source CMS, follows this trend when displaying its grade book data to students10. The benefits of visualizing numerical data in a graphical format include a more efficient and clearer interpretation of the data9.

The goal for this project is to inform students more effectively of their performance in a course using visualizations of current assessments, comparisons with the class as a whole, and projections of potential and expected future outcomes. In turn, this might allow students to change their behavior for the better, based on their observations of the graphs.

2. Prior Work

Edward Tufte’s Visual Display of Quantitative Information11 is a helpful reference on the topic of information visualization. His principles of graphical excellence enable us to create graphics that give the viewer the information they seek in minimal time.

Humphries, W., & Gawrilow, J., & Perez-Quinones, M., & Turner, S., & Edwards, S. (2006, June), Helping Students Visualize Their Grade Performance Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--679

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