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Discussion assessments are not compatible with individual group topics


Because discussion assessments are performed per topic and a grade item can only be linked to a single activity this feature is not compatible for group topics where there are multiple individual topics.

The vendor expects faculty to us the consolidated Group Topic where a single topic is marked as a group topic when created. There are some use cases where an instructor may want to keep individual group topics.

Temporary Solution

To take advantage of discussion assessments with individual group topics you will need to use a special set up of grade items and categories in the Grades tool. Using this method may impact your grading style overall for the course so please read through the solution entirely before implementing it.

With this method you will use a grade category to represent the discussion assignment, with a grade item for each group. We will then use the drop lowest grades feature in the settings of the category to ignore the grade items representing the groups the student is not a part of.

Once completed, your grade category and items will look similar to this example.


When you grade, the view in Enter Grades will look similar to this example. Here we show one student in each group, they have a grade in the item associated to their group. In the other grade items for the groups they are not a part of, a grade of zero is given automatically and they are being dropped as indicated by the exclamation point icon.


Setting up the Grades


In the Grades tool you will need to create a category to represent the discussion topic. In addition to the normal settings you would make when setting up a category, two additional settings need to be made for this approach.


  1. In Manage Grades click the New button, then select Category.

  2. The weight or points of the category should represent the contribution of the single discussion topic towards the final grade.

  3. The category must be set to distribute the weight evenly across all items in the category, and the grades representing groups the students are not a part of must be dropped.
    1. Check Distribute the weight evenly across all items.

    2. For Number of lowest non-bonus items to drop for each user, enter one less then then number of groups. In this example I have four groups so I am dropping three of the lowest grades.

  4. Once the grade category is created you will create grade items in the category for each group.
    Remember, if you are going to do multiple groups discussion grades, the grade items must have a unique name across the entire gradebook. Add a unique identifier in the name, for example in the Group Discussion 1 category you might add D1- to have D1-Group 1, D1-Group 2, ... grade items. If you have more than one group discussion grade you can't use Group 1 in both the Group Discussion 1 and the Group Discussion 2 categories. It would not be unique across the entire gradebook.

  5. After the grades are set up there is one final setting to make, to have the gradebook Treat ungraded items as 0.
    1. From Manage Grade or Enter Grades click on the Settings link to the upper right of the page.

    2. Select the Calculation Options tab.

    3. Under the Grade Calculations heading set Ungraded Items to Treat ungraded items as 0.

    4. Click the Save button.

If you do not enable the option to Treat ungraded items as 0, ungraded items are ignored. The single grade the student does receive for the discussion will be dropped as being one of the "lowest" items since the ungraded items are ignored. This will result in the student not receiving any grade for the category in the Subtotal, as all items are ignored or dropped.

If the student does get a zero for the assignment, it will still count against them. In our example of 4 groups, we are only dropping 3 of the lowest scores. The fourth grade of zero will still count against the student.


Optional - Grade item restriction

Students will see all of the grade items in these categories even though they are only going to be graded in a single item for their group. If you feel this could be confusing for your students you can do some additional work when setting up the items to hide the groups the student is not a member of.

This can be a significant amount of additional work to set up! In our experience we find most students understand that the items for groups they are not a part of are being dropped.

When creating or editing each grade item make the following settings:

  1. Go to the Restrictions tab.

  2. Under Release Conditions click on Create and Attach. You many need to click on the Show Release Conditions link to expand the options.

  3. On the new window select Group Enrollment as the Condition type. It can be found under the Classlist heading.

  4. Select the appropriate group who should see this item from the drop down menu.

  5. Click Create

  6. You can then continue working on the grade item if you still creating them, or click Save to complete your work.

Discussion assessments

The discussion assessment setup does not require any special setup beyond making sure you choose the appropriate grade item for the group on that topic, so make sure to chose the appropriate Group 1 grade item for the Group 1 topic for example.

Grading view

Once you have assessed the discussion topic, making sure the Graded box is checked so the grade are sent to the Grades tool, your grading for the category will look similar to this example:

In this example I was grading out of ten points. The greyed out items and the exclamation point icon reflect the items that were dropped. In the first row the student is a part of Group 3, so their grade of 9/10 is displayed in the Group 3 column, and the other items representing groups they are not in have a grade of 0/10 and are marked as dropped.


Operating System






Report Date

Apr 8, 2008

D2L Incident #