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Not all lessons are created equal: Weighted Scoring in an LMS

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Not all lessons are created equal:  Weighted Scoring in an LMS

Online learning used to be pretty basic:  Open a course.  Take a quiz.  Get a score.   Today, multiple Learning Elements (LE) can be packaged together including presentations, instructor led training, quizzes and other online content in a single Course for a rich and varied experience.  As a result, a given Course can have many scorable LE.  These LE are aggregated to provide a final score for the Course.  Weighted scoring allows the scores from different LE to have different weights or contributions to the final aggregate score. Continue reading to gain a better understanding of the importance of weighted scores in online learning platforms. 

Why is weighted scoring important?

The standard grading approach averages all LE scores equally. For example, let’s say that we’ve created a CPR Course in our Learning Management System with four LE.  In addition to non scored presentations, it has a short quiz, a hands on training session and a final exam.
With equal weighting, if a Learner scores 100% on the quiz and exam, but only 50% on his hands on training, he’ll score a passing 83% on the course.

Simple Average of online learning content


Of course, that probably isn’t right.  If I have a heart attack, I’m not sure that I want my emergency responder to be the one who failed the hands on training session.  In addition, the Final Exam probably shouldn’t carry the same weight as the quiz.  This Course would benefit from custom weighting.
Let’s take a look at this Course again, but this time, we’ll assign some custom weighting to the Learning Elements.


Weighted Average 600...



In our new example, we’ve decided that the quiz is worth 10% of the final score.  The hands on training is worth a whopping 60% of the grade and the final exam is worth 20%.  With this new weighting, our learner’s final score is now 60%.
These two examples make it clear that an equally weighted average is not always adequate for scoring a Course.  When you have many Course scored contributing to an overall Learning Path score, weighted scoring becomes even more important



Where is the score weight configured?

Weighting can be set in different places with different effect.  Let’s take a quick look two possibilities.

Quiz Builders

Some SCORM authoring tools and some LMS provide quiz builders that allow different weighting to the questions within the quiz.  When the quiz reports a summary grade to the online learning platform, it is a weighted score of the questions within the quiz. In other words, the final score sent to the LMS from the Quiz is actually a weighted score based on the questions themselves.  While this weighting can be valuable within the context of a quizzes aggregate score, it doesn’t address how to weight different quizzes within a Course, such as in our example above.

Learning Management Systems

Questions can be weighted within a quiz, but what if that quiz is only one of many in a Course?  What if that Course is only one part of a larger Learning Path? Rolling these scores up to a meaningful final score requires that the weighting be supported within the online learning platform.
For example, let's say we have a Learning Path that teaches first aid.  To pass the Learning Path, you’ll need a final score of 85%.  The Learning Path has four Courses each of which makes a different contribution to the aggregate score of the Learning Path. The only way to weight the Course scores within the Learning Path is through the online learning platform.
In this example, we’ve set the course on Cuts & Scrapes to be weighted at 5%, while Traumatic Injuries and CPR are more heavily weighted at 40% each.

Learning Path First ...

How Accord LMS Handles Weighted Scoring

Accord LMS supports Learning Elements that provide scores and those that do not. SCORM quizzes, Instructor Led Training, and quizzes built with the Accord LMS Assessment Builder all provide scores. PDF files, video or audio files, PowerPoint presentations or any view only media do not provide scores. In addition to the LE, the Accord online learning platform also Folder level scores if they are configured to 'roll up' the scores from their children.

Roll Up vs. Pass Through Folders

The Accord LMS provides many ways to configure Folders so that they can conform to your training program architecture. One of the main options is whether Folders Roll Up the scores from their children, either child folders or LE, for their own Folder aggregate score, or whether Folders Pass Through the scores of their children to their parent folder. Normally the parent Folder would then Roll Up the scores resulting in an aggregate score for the Parent Folder.

By default, Folders, Courses and Learning Paths are configured to Roll Up their own aggregate scores in the Accord LMS.  Collections and Chapters are configured as Pass Through.

Accord LMS Default Folder Types


Default Folder Types...


In this example, we’ll create a Course called Circulatory Emergencies.  Our Course contains content organized in four Chapters.  Each Chapter has a quiz or instructor led training (ILT) that provides a score when completed.

Chapters 400x416

Chapters are configured as Pass Through Folders. They are essentially organizational folders that group learning content together within a Course.  They aggregate no score of their own.  Any score from their child LE will be passed through to the parent Folder for scoring.  In this case, that means that the scorable LE will be passed up the parent folder.

The parent folder is a Course called Circulatory Emergencies. It is configured as a Roll Up Folder.  That means that scores from it's children or any of the LE passed through any its child folders will be rolled up to a final aggregate score for the Course. The aggregate can be calculated with an equal or weighted average.
In our example, each scorable LE provides its own score. These include the three quizzes plus the ILT.  The Chapter folders then pass those scores up to the Course, Circulatory Emergencies, which rolls up all the scores passed up to it from its Chapters.

Scoring Screen Shot ...

In a similar way, Collections pass through all the child scores from their Courses to their parent Learning Path. And Learning Paths roll up all the Chapter scores that are passed through their Collections.

  • All scores originate with the learner's interaction with Learning Elements.  
  • Learning Elements scores can either be rolled up to their immediate parent Folder, or that Folder can pass the scores through to it's parent folder for roll up.  
  • If there are multiple learning elements, the roll-up folder can use an equal or custom weighted aggregation to calculate the folder's score.
  • This Roll Up process can be used within a single course, or implemented throughout larger Learning Paths.  

I suggest you jump in and try this for yourself. You'll be impressed by how easy it is to have complete control over how your aggregate Folder scores are calculated. For more information on the Accord LMS Scoring features or to arrange for a live demonstration please contact an Accord Solution Specialist. 

The Accord Academy contains a video lesson on this topic.  Your sales team can provide you with an access code that will offer you more than thirty quick video tutorials covering the core features of the Accord LMS.

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