Grading for Mastery with Moodle

(Click on any graphic to see a larger version.)



  • Course:
  • MA 116: Introduction to Scientific Programming
  • Test average:
  • # of skills demonstrated out of 16
Can be shown on any of...
Midterm 1, 2, 3, 4 and the final
Midterm 2, 3, 4 and the final
Midterm 3, 4 and the final
Midterm 4 and the final

There is no penalty for late mastery.

Moodle Needs: For each skill, we need...

  1. Quizzes and the Question Bank: One Moodle quiz pulling questions from a question bank (each student gets a random selection).
  2. Moodle Gradebook Setup: Organize and round each student’s score

    up to 1 if the skill threshold (usually 80%) is reached

    down to 0 if the threshold is not (yet) reached

  3. Quiz vanishes with mastery: The skill’s quiz only appears on a given test day if the student hasn’t yet mastered the skill.
  4. Automatically updated bookkeeping: Until the skill is mastered, it appears in a personalized list of remaining skills for each student.

Main idea: once a student masters a skill, it disappears from their list and their future tests on Moodle.★

I. Quizzes and the Question Bank

Each skill is tested with a Moodle quiz. There are 16 total quizzes stored one section in Moodle.

Each quiz pulls its own questions randomly from the bank below:


Click here to see the original poster (PDF).

II. Moodle Gradebook Setup

Step 1: Create a category called Skills with subcategories called Skill 1, Skill 2, etc. Each subcategory contains only the skill’s quiz.

Step 2: Quiz settings: keep only the highest score...

Step 3: Add a custom formula... their raw quiz score is 0-100. However, we want the feedback to be either 0 or 1:

Edit calculation: manually creates the right grade

• "+ 0*[[attendance]]" forces the initial score 0 (placeholder)
• any raw score ≥80 (adjustable) rounds up to 1

student has demonstrated mastery, no need to try again

• any raw score <80 rounds down to 0

student will need to try again

Step 4: Students do not see their raw score. In quiz settings...

Step 5: Check your work. My view (left) vs the student view...

The good news: duplicating this Moodle each semester means this setup is only done once.★

III. Quiz vanishes with mastery

Three controls put on each quiz in the quiz settings (one for mastery):

IV. Automatically updated bookkeeping

One challenge with mastery-based grading is student bookkeeping.

Step 1: Create a section in Moodle called “Which skills am I missing?”

Step 2: (for each skill)

Step 3: For the label, use Restrict Access...

(Click on any graphic to see a larger version.)