Saturday, November 30, 2019

Week 15 Tech Tip: Progress Spreadsheet

So, inspired by the NaNoWriMo stats page, I have created what I hope will be a useful tool for next year's students. Instead of just the static progress chart that I have now, I want to encourage students to use a spreadsheet that they can interact with instead, using the weekly point totals that are easily accessible in Canvas to see how they are doing. This is what I came up with: Canvas Chart.


The idea is that you enter your goal up there in the first row, and then you enter your point totals week by week.

Then, it calculates the following:

total points: which is the same as the total in Canvas

points to goal: you cannot get this in Canvas because it depends on what your goal is, and clueless Canvas cannot let you state your own goal

average points per week so far: which is a way to measure your overall participation; this is a calculation Canvas could do but which it does not do (it's just total points divided by weeks)

future average needed for goal: this is a way to calculate the participation you need every week for the rest of the semester to reach your goal; Canvas could not calculate this even if it wanted to because Canvas doesn't know your goal (the formula is points to goal divided by remaining weeks)

auto-comment: then there is a kind of auto-comment, based on some formulas (I'll say something about how I came up with this system in a separate post, since my goal here is to help people maintain a forward-looking growth mindset):

  • great! this is when your future average is less than your average so far; in other words, you can actually participate less in the coming weeks and still reach your goal
  • on track: this is when the points to goal are less than or equal to the remaining regular assignments
  • do extra: this is when the points to goal exceed the regular assignments remaining, but you can still get to your goal with extra credit
  • adjust goal: this is when your points to goal are less than the remaining regular assignments plus all extra credit; in other words, you won't reach your current goal, so you need to put in a new goal

I also added a chart for people who like visuals.

The formulas all have if statements that mean each row's calculations don't activate until you enter points for that week. Here's a sample showing someone drifting into trouble by low participation as the semester begins: they start off "great!" but then drift into just being on-track and already by Week 6 they need to do some extra credit to make up work missed in those opening weeks:


I really hope this will be useful to students next semester. I always wanted to do something like this but wasn't sure what measures would be really useful. Doing NaNoWriMo helped me figure that out!


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