Help me turn student grades into informative statistics with charts.
April 25, 2016 7:12 AM   Subscribe

TA/Instructor looking for an easy way to plug in a list of grades and get statistical information back, preferably in chart form. I would like to see things like the mean, median, and standard deviation, and a visual representation of the the distribution.

Bonus points if there is a way for me to plug in letter grade ranges and get a bar graph that shows how many students were in each letter grade category. This seems like a fairly straightforward task that there should be an app or website for, but finding a solution is outwitting my google skills. My data sets range from 20 to 100 individual grades. I am willing to download software. I am working on a Mac in case that is relevant. Simple solutions will be best. I only want to make an effort to learn how to do this if I have to. Thanks in advance, MeFites.
posted by jamaal to Education (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is there a reason you don't want to just use Excel?
posted by rainbowbrite at 7:23 AM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Is there a reason you don't want to just use Excel?

Yes. Ignorance.

"I only want to make an effort to learn how to do this if I have to"

I strongly suspected that Excel can do all these things. But it also seems possible that there is a program or website that is tailored to grade statistics so I can just plug in my numbers and have it barf me out charts.
posted by jamaal at 7:29 AM on April 25, 2016

If you were to use Excel, here is a set of instructions on how to make a histogram of your data. I assume histogram is what you mean by "a visual representation of the the distribution".
posted by aimedwander at 7:29 AM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

You could find and use an "excel gradebook template" where someone has done the work of setting up the analyses and visualizations (and shared it for free or for a fee), and you just have to plug in the grades.
posted by GPF at 7:56 AM on April 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

If your institution uses Canvas - an online grading program - or something like it, you can get those statistics within your gradebook. Canvas can be daunting for the uninitiated, and most institutions are terrible at instructing their TAs. Let me know if you want my help. It's quick and easy.
posted by bravecanary at 8:00 AM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

If your current grading program doesn't include this feature, your easiest option is Excel, and Pivot Tables with statistical info are VERY easy to learn and do. Like you'll master it in a couple of hours.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:16 AM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Here are two web apps that take in a list of numbers and return a histogram (1,2), but they don't return mean and standard deviation.
posted by aimedwander at 8:39 AM on April 25, 2016

I would like to see things like the mean, median, and standard deviation

For descriptive statistics the graphpad prism website has a basic calculator here. Just paste in your list of grades and click 'calculate' and it will give you mean, SD, SEM, CIs, median, some other stuff. You can change the formatting to inputting individual numbers etc, but I like this version because you can just copy/paste a list from excel or wherever. It just spits out numbers, no pretty graphs.

But making a basic histogram in excel is also really really easy, like it should take you less than half an hour to figure it out even from scratch. And the statistics from graphpad are more reliable than you'll get from excel. So they may complement each other for you.

You can also use that website to do a basic t test if you want to compare grade ranges in two classes for example. I use it all the time and I have the full software installed also.
posted by shelleycat at 9:43 AM on April 25, 2016

Oh and I missed the comment from aimedwander, if those webapps work for you then I think you're covered.
posted by shelleycat at 9:45 AM on April 25, 2016

Do you not have a course management system? I enter grades into D2L for my students and get a histogram and the mean and median as a bonus; Blackboard, Sakai, and other competitors have similar functionality. (I do use Excel for final grades, but I'm a mathematician, which means I like having control over formulas.)

If you're using a public website, do make sure you're only entering lists of scores and not any identifiable student information. Otherwise, you could be violating FERPA.
posted by yarntheory at 7:06 PM on April 25, 2016

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