- Student instructions for the Assignment activity
- Moodle's quick guide to the Assignment activity
- Moodle's documentation on the Assignment activity
- YouTube video on creating an Assignment in Moodle 2.8, from Moodle HQ
What assignments are good for
A Moodle assignment is a graded, untimed activity with a due date (and time). Depending on the exact type of assignment (Moodle's assignment activity has four subtypes), it can allow students to submit one or more files for grading, or to submit text for grading. It can also be used to allow a grade to be assigned for an activity the students perform offline (that is, nothing is handed in through Moodle).
Examples of activities where Moodle's assignment is an obvious fit include papers, labs, in-class exercises, and exercises (such as oral presentations) for which a grade is assigned even though nothing is handed in. Note that an assignment can be used even for handwritten or hand-drawn work, as the students can take a picture of the work with a cell phone and then upload the picture.
Creating an assignment
To create an assignment, you start this way:
- Go to the course home page.
- If editing isn't already turned on, turn it on. (One way to turn editing on is to click the button marked “Turn editing on” in the upper-right corner of the page.)
- Go to the week (or unit) of the course where you want to put your assignment, and click the “Add an activity or resource” link.
- In the dialog that comes up, select the radio button for “Assignment”, and click the “Add” button. This will take you to a page where you can define your assignment.
Common settings: name, directions, due date
The topmost section on the assignment settings page is marked “General”. This is where you give your assignment a name and a description. The description is really the assignment itself—that is where you write the directions your students will follow to do the assignment.
The second section is marked “Availability”. This section allows you to set the assignment's due date. Also in this section, you can set a start time for accepting submissions to the assignment, and a cut-off date after which late assignments will not be accepted.
Picking the kind of assignment: submission types
In the “Submission types” section, there is a group of checkboxes marked “Submission types” which define what students are allowed to submit. This choice, perhaps more than any other, determines what kind of assignment you are creating.
For many assignments, you want students to submit one or more files.
- In the “Submission types” checkboxes, make sure the box labeled “File submissions” is checked.
- In the dropdown menu marked “Maximum number of uploaded files”, select the maximum number of files you want your students to upload. (The most common value here is 1, but for some assignments you do want more than one file.)
For some assignments, you want students just to type text into an input box. This can be combined with a file submission, if you want. (The “Submission types” checkboxes are not radio buttons. You can select more than one.)
- In the “Submission types” checkboxes, make sure the box labeled “Online text” is checked.
- If you want to restrict the length of student submissions, you can check the “Enable” box next to “Word limit”, and enter a maximum number of words into the “Word limit” blank.
Some assignments are really grade boxes for work the students perform outside Moodle. In-class presentations and pen-and-paper tests are common examples.
- In the “Submission types” checkboxes, make sure both boxes are unchecked.
The “Feedback types” section allows you to specify whether you want to provide feedback in the form of comments or files. If, for example, you want to mark up the files students submit and return those files to the students, make sure you've checked the “Feedback files” checkbox in this section.
The other section in which you will normally want to make changes is the “Grade” section. In this section, you can set the type of grade (normally Point) and the maximum points for the assignment. If you have established categories for the grades in the course, you can also set which category the assignment will be counted in. The other settings in the section can usually be left alone.
The remaining settings on the assignment page are much less frequently used. If you want to learn more, try the Moodle documentation linked at the top of this page, or look at the online help available directly from the page where you create your assignment.
The first step in grading an assignment is to go to the assignment's page. Normally, the second step is to click the “View all submissions” button. This will take you to a page showing all the submissions for the assignment. (Alternatively, on the assignment page you can click the “Grade” button and go directly to grading; see “Grading online” below.)
In some cases, an instructor will choose to grade an assignment outside Moodle. This is often a useful approach if the instuctor wants to mark directly on the students' files, perhaps using the Track changes feature in Word or something similar. (If you want to mark directly on student files, make sure you have enabled “Feedback files” in the “Feedback types” section of the assignment settings, so you can upload the marked-up files as part of your feedback.)
To do this, go to the dropdown menu in the upper left of the submissions page and select “Download all submissions”. This will download a zip file with all the submissions to the assignment. When you extract the files from that zip file, you'll get a folder for each student containing her work. (If you enabled both file submissions and online-text submissions, you'll actually get two folders per student, one with her files and one with whatever she put in the text box.) You can then grade the work outside Moodle, using whatever process suits you.
Clicking the “Grade” button opposite a student's name will take you to a page where you can grade that particular student's submission. (Clicking the “Grade” button on the assignment page starts you off with the first student.) Usually, the student's work will be shown in a pane on the left. On the right, there are blanks for the numeric grade, for feedback comments (if your feeback settings enabled comments) and for uploading feedback files (again, if your feedback settings enabled those). When you have entered the appropriate feedback, click the “Save changes” button at the bottom of the page.
The student list in the upper-right corner lets you go to another student. In the upper left corner, there are links back to the assignment page and back to the course.
If you just want to enter a numeric grade for each student (or just for a few students) and don't want to make many comments, the quick grading approach is likely to be, well, quicker. Note that this approach does not support feedback files.
To do quick grading, go to the assignment's submissions page and just enter numbers in the “Grade” column, using the blanks in that column for the appropriate students. You can also enter a few comments using the text boxes in the “Feedback comments” column, although those boxes are so small that it's awkward to enter much.
When you're done, click the “Save all quick grading changes” button. You'll be taken back to the assignment page, but with a “Continue” button at the bottom. Clicking the “Continue” button takes you back to the submissions page, where you will be able to see the changes you just made.