MUSG pushes for expanded use of D2L’s grade book

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Infographic by Ellery Fry/ellery.fry@marquette.edu

Infographic by Ellery Fry/ellery.fry@marquette.edu

The Marquette Student Government Academics Committee is working on an initiative to increase usage of the Desire2Learn “grade book” function that allows students to see the grades they received on individual assignments online.

College of Arts & Sciences Senator Zack Wallace, a sophomore, and Off-Campus Senator Mary McCarthy, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, took up the initiative in response to student concerns over D2L usage.

“We conducted a survey recently of student’s interest in academic technology and the number one response was that they wanted to see grades on D2L,” Wallace said.

Wallace also voiced concern about incoming students accustomed to having their grades available online in high school.

To achieve wide-spread use of the grade book function, Wallace and McCarthy are working with Jon Pray, the associate vice provost for educational technology, who advocates for expanded D2L use in a number of ways.

Specifically, Pray supports extending the program closing date beyond the last day of the semester for a couple years. He spoke with members of the Committee on Academic Technology, the Committee on Teaching and the Office of the Registrar, and is set to meet with the Committee on Academic Procedures in a couple weeks. Wallace approached him specifically about expanding grade book usage last semester.

According to a survey cited by Pray and conducted in April 2012, 84 percent of university faculty use D2L, 61 percent use the grade book and an additional 8 percent plan to use the site. Twenty percent say that they do not plan to use grade book in the future.

“Grade book tends to be one of the features of D2L that people tend not to use because it is complicated to set up initially,” Pray said.

Pray also said it is one of the most common sources of faculty complaints about D2L. Comments from the survey describe the grade book function as “cumbersome” and “difficult to use.”

Pray said there is a three-pronged approach to expanding faculty use of the grade book function. The first is extending the D2L access period to encourage faculty members to use the grade book beyond the last day of finals. Pray also said that many other Jesuit universities close D2L’s access period much later than Marquette.

The second prong is simple — more faculty training. D2L training workshops are hosted once a week at the Center for Teaching and Learning. Since grade book is initially difficult to use, more training could increase its usage.

The third prong concerns linking D2L and CheckMarq programs so professors do not have to keep grades in multiple places. Unfortunately, this requires programming by the D2L company, which will likely be expensive.

Wallace and McCarthy hope to bring legislation in front of the Senate before the elections in March. Pray said a recommendation from MUSG would be beneficial to the efforts to expand usage of the program.

“This place is very good at listening to the students,” Pray said. “ That would help.”

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