Gradescope test pilot open to all instructors this fall

Instructors looking for an assessment tool to pair with Canvas' assignments and quizzes have a new option. A Gradescope pilot for all instructors is underway for fall semester and faculty feedback will help determine its future at ISU.

Gradescope training

Both CELT and Gradescope are offering trainings and help. CELT also is available to provide guidance or answer questions by emailing celt-help@iastate.edu. Instructors are asked to notify CELT if they use Gradescope this fall.

Gradescope is an assessment, feedback and analytics tool that enables instructors to administer, grade and provide students feedback on pen-and-paper, bubblesheet and computer programming assignments. The app can be added to Canvas and is especially helpful for STEM courses.

"This is for courses where you don't just have students picking A, B or C. They are using charts or making graphs where you want to see them plotting data," said Sonya Nichols, CELT instructional technology specialist and member of the Gradescope pilot team. "Previously, it was a real challenge for instructors to see someone's thought process as they were working through a long problem."

Gradescope works well for courses in math, science and engineering, but is just as effective in English for activities like diagramming sentences. Economics associate teaching professor Darin Wohlgemuth used Gradescope this summer for a master's course of about 20 students and has continued to use it this fall.

Wohlgemuth has simple advice for instructors: "If you write 'show your work' on assignments then Gradescope is well suited for you."

Instructors can pick and choose how they want to use the app within Canvas. There are currently 30 instructors participating in the fall pilot and more can join by contacting CELT.

How it works

Written work is scanned and uploaded to Gradescope, where instructors digitally grade homework, quizzes, exams and other assignments. Although students can submit written work digitally using Canvas assignments, instructors must each manually one at a time. Grading is easier and faster through rubrics -- grading guides -- the instructor creates beforehand or in real time, which can be changed and applied, and submissions can be grouped to provide fast and effective responses. 

"If numerous students are missing the same key point, an instructor can identify that to create a Gradescope rubric feedback option, save it and apply it to the current student submission and to any others that missed the same point," said Lori Mickle, CELT instructional technology specialist and pilot coordinator.

Instructors also can update grading decisions and apply it to work they already completed, Mickle said. Multiple graders can work at the same time and any updates to the rubric apply to all graders, especially helpful for large enrollment courses with multiple sections. 

"It is a great way to get an analysis of how students are doing," Nichols said. "The Gradescope platform provides instantaneous assignment and question analytics. Instructors can use this information to identify areas where students are struggling, then quickly provide feedback to everyone who needs it."

Wohlgemuth said using the app saved him time when grading and commenting on students' work. The rubrics also helped him be a more consistent grader without having to go through each assessment individually to make changes.

Other features

Instructors can create programming and coding assignments that can be automatically or manually graded or use the bubble-sheet option. Distance learning students can use Gradescope to print off an assessment, complete work, take a picture and send it back to the instructor, Mickle said.