A Brief Guide to End-of-Term Tasks in Populi

You might be in the thick of your school's End-of-Term workload, or maybe you're just staring at it through a crack in the bunker wall as it shambles towards you. Wherever you're at, we hope you'll find this breeze-through of academic term wrap-up tasks useful.

The life-cycle of a course

The course life-cycle detailed in the Knowledge Base involves jobs typically handled by faculty and those that fall to Registrars and Academic Admins (whom we'll refer to as "Admins" in this article).

When preparing for the term...

  • Admins set up the term (add/drop dates, registration periods, et. al.), populate it with courses, assign faculty, oversee enrollment, and attach evaluations to courses.
  • Faculty add content to their courses: assignments, lessons, files, discussions, and suchlike.

During the term...

  • Admins handle one-off situations—late enrollments, withdrawals, status changes, and other items that would directly affect a student's transcript.
  • Faculty run the course. They grade assignments, run discussions, administer tests, schedule conferences, take attendance—the quotidian stuff that feeds into students' course grades.

At the end of the term...

  • Faculty enter final grades, compose grade comments, mark the occasional student Incomplete, and finally—DEEP BREATH—hit that finalization button and hand the course off to the admins. Around this time, depending on settings, they can view their course evaluations.
  • Admins may sometimes intervene to unfinalize and then refinalize courses due to complications like grade adjustments and so on. As student course evaluations come in, Admins can run reports on these.

The main job: finalizing courses

Grading an assignment

Finalizing courses is where you summarize a student's class performance in a grade and plug it directly into the larger story—things like the student's transcript, his degree progress, and even financial aid eligibility (among many other things)—with just a few clicks. When you finalize your course or individual students:

  • You submit your students' grades for incorporation into their permanent academic records and lock their coursework to any further changes.
  • You lock the course itself to any further changes—course content, individual students' coursework, and even stuff like bulletin board posts (except for incomplete students—more on them, below).

Before you finalize, you'll want to make sure you've entered everything you want to be part of a student's academic record. Primarily, this will involve grading assignments—a quick scan of the gradebook will show you anything that requires your attention. If any students need to be marked Incomplete, you'll note that on the Course Roster. That done, you can turn your attention to reviewing and entering final grades and course comments, consulting the Student Course Summary page for an overview of the student's performance and participation.

The manage finalization screen

When you're ready to finalize the course, you'll go to the Manage Finalization screen, which you get to via the Course > Settings view, Gradebook, or the Final Grade screen. It presents you with a summary of your students' grades, attendance, and any course comments. If everything looks good, you can finalize. Check next to individual students whose fates you wish to seal, or simply finalize the course and all students. Once you press Submit, those grades and stats are instantly in the Admins' hands and have been incorporated into the students' academic records.

As the term rumbles to a close...

Marking an incomplete student as complete on the course roster

Most of the work is done! Here are some of the things you'll likely deal with after courses are finalized and you finish buttoning-up the term:

  • In some cases, admins may need to unfinalize the course or individual students to make updates or corrections—generally to fix a grade or update an enrollment status. After the adjustments are done, it's time to refinalize.
  • If you have Incomplete students, faculty and admins can grade their work as the students hand it in; once they're done, go to the Course Roster and set the Incomplete status to No. Nota bene: taking care of Incomplete students doesn't require unfinalizing/refinalizing!
  • Course Evaluations aren't available for faculty to view until 60% of students have completed them; admins might also require that the course be finalized as well. Faculty can view their evaluations in Course > Reporting. Admins can view evals as soon as they start rolling in and can also run reports on them.
  • Throughout the term, but usually after students have seen their grade reports, faculty and admins may field questions about how grades are calculated. To give you a leg up on these questions, this video describes how assignment grades are transformed into course grades.