Grade uploads set to lighten the load
A new process to electronically upload grades at the U of A promises to make the submission of final course grades simpler and more transparent, while reducing the possibility of transcription errors.
If all goes well, the system should be up and running by early March, and all instructors will be required to use it, says Jonathan Schaeffer, vice-provost, information technology. He says the new system will be far easier and more efficient for instructors, approvers and administrative staff and is part of the U of A’s overall plan to automate cumbersome manual processes.
“Why do I take my electronic spreadsheet with all my grades in it, go to the grade book, write down all my grades to pass physically to my associate chair, who then reads them, initials them and passes them on to the registrar’s office, who takes the information on paper and manually enters it into the computer? It’s wrong—it should all be electronic.”
According to Ada Schmude, associate registrar of records, the registrar’s office manually enters some 300,000 grades every year. “So for several years, departments have been indicating that we really should be moving away from this and automating the process,” says Schmude.
“With the new system, there is also the potential for grades to be available earlier to students,” says Barry Scott, associate director, Administrative Information Systems (AIS).
For smaller classes, says Scott, instructors can simply enter final grades for each student directly into the instructor self-service on Bear Tracks. For larger classes, instructors can download a class-roster spreadsheet at the beginning of term, which they can use to track interim and midterm grades. At the end of the course, instructors simply enter final letter grades on the spreadsheet and upload the final grades to Bear Tracks via instructor self-service. Also in the works is a file format that instructors can download from the Learning Management System (LMS) and then upload to Bear Tracks via instructor self-service.
Shelagh Hohm, director, AIS, says there has been “strong support at all levels for this. We’re fielding a lot of questions on exactly how it will work, so we’re preparing a list of frequently asked questions.”
For more information on how the new electronic grading system will work, visit the AIS website at