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Total Columns

The total column is a type of calculated column that generates a grade based on the cumulative points earned, related to the points allowed. You can select which columns and categories are included in a total column's calculation. When creating a total column, you can include other calculated columns.

A total column is created by default and appears in new courses. You can rename, change the settings, change which columns are included, or delete this default column.

The following list includes the settings for the default total column:

  • All grade columns are included in the calculation.
  • Calculated columns are not included.
  • Ungraded items are not included. You can change this by editing the column and selecting No for Calculate as Running Total.
  • Included in Final Grade View smart view. To learn more, see Smart Views.
  • Set as the external grade column, which is the grade reported to your institution. To learn more, see External Grade Column.

Columns with text as the grade display are not included in a total column's calculation. For example, if you set a column to display text, such as Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory, you cannot use it in grade calculations.

Total Points Formula

Add the points possible of all selected columns to find the total points. Then, add a student’s earned scores for all selected columns. This is the total earned out of the total points possible. Exempted items are ignored. The results display according to the Primary and Secondary Display options.

Column 1 points earned + Column 2 points earned + Column 3 points earned + Column 4 points earned = Total Points Earned out of Total Points Possible

Example: Student A

Eight values: 8/10, 3/5, 2/2, 3/7, 47/50, 20/25, 88/100

Earned Points Value: 171

Points Possible Value: 199

Total Points: 171/199

Example: Student B

Eight values: 9/10, X (exempt), 1/2, 5/7, 45/50, X, 22/25, 90/100

Earned Points Value: 172

Points Possible Value: 194

Total Points: 172/194

Total Column Combinations

When creating a total column, you can include the following items:

  • All grade columns: Include all individual grade columns in the Grade Center.
  • All grade columns in a grading period: If grading periods exist, include only the grade columns associated with a grading period.
  • Selected columns and categories: Include specific grade columns and categories (and the associated columns).

Example: Selected Columns

You create a total column to determine the final grade for the first quarter that includes all of the columns in the first quarter grading period.

Example: Selected Columns and Categories

You want to provide students with a percentage score showing their effort on assignments and participation. When you create a total column, you select the Assignment category and two participation columns. Students can view their percentage scores in My Grades.

How to Create Total Columns

  1. In the Grade Center, point to Create Calculated Column on the action bar and click Total Column.
  2. On the Create Total Column page, type a brief, descriptive Column Name. This name becomes the column name in the Grade Center and on students’ My Grades pages. If this name is too long to display clearly in the Grade Center, you can type a short, descriptive name in the Grade Center Name box.

    Only the first 14-15 characters typed in either name box appear in the column heading in the Grade Center grid. Point to the column heading to view its full name on the Grade Information Bar.

  3. Optionally, type a Description.
  4. Make a selection in the Primary Display drop-down list. To learn more, see the steps in How to Create Grade Columns.
  5. Optionally, make a selection in the Secondary Display drop-down list.
  6. If grading periods exist, you can associate the total column with a grading period by making a selection in the Grading Period drop-down list. If no grading periods exist, the drop-down list does not appear. You can use grading periods to filter Grade Center data and create calculated columns.
  7. In the Select Columns section, select what to include in the total column's calculation. The following table lists the options.
    Column Options
    Option Description
    All Grade Columns Include all individual grade columns in the Grade Center.
    All Grade Columns in Grading Period Select a grading period from the drop-down list to include only those columns associated with the grading period in the calculation. If no grading periods exist, the drop-down list does not appear.
    Selected Columns and Categories Select grade columns and categories individually.

    Select the columns in the Columns to Select box and click the right-pointing arrow to move the selections to the Selected Columns box. When you select a column, you can view information about the column in the Column Information area below the Columns to Select box.

    A column that is set to No for Include this Column in Grade Center Calculations does not appear in the selection list.

    For Windows, to select multiple items in a list, press the Shift key and click the first and last items. To select items out of sequence, press the Ctrl key and click each item needed. For Macs, press the Command key instead of the Ctrl key.

    Select the categories in the Categories to Select box and click the right-pointing arrow to move the selections to the Selected Columns box. When you select a category, you can view which columns are included in the category in the Category Information area below the Categories to Select box. Other options appear after you move the category to the Selected Columns box:

    • If grading periods exist, make a selection in the Grading Period drop-down list.
    • Drop Grades removes a number of either the highest or lowest grades for each category from the calculation. If you do not type numbers in the boxes, no grades are dropped.
    • Use only the Lowest -OR- Highest Value to Calculate removes all grades from the calculation except for the best or worst score.

    To delete a selection in the Selected Columns box, click the red X.

  8. Calculate as Running Total: Click Yes to calculate as a running total. Running totals exempt cells that do not contain data. Click No to include all selected columns in the calculation, using a value of 0 if no grade exists. This can make grades appear artificially low.
  9. Select the Options:
    • Include this Column in Grade Center Calculations: Click Yes to make the column available for potential inclusion when creating calculated columns.
    • Show this Column to Students: Click Yes to display the column to students in My Grades.
    • Show Statistics (average and median) for this Column to Students in My Grades: Click Yes to include statistical information with the grade value when shown to students.
  10. Click Submit.

    If a column is deleted from the Grade Center that is included in a total calculation, it is also removed from the calculation.


The new total column appears in the Grade Center grid.

You can change the column's settings at any time and change which columns are included. Once edited, the calculation updates automatically.

You are not allowed to type directly in a total column's cell to edit the calculated grade. Therefore, no contextual menu appears when you move your mouse pointer over an individual cell in a total column.

Image illustrating associated text

To keep a total column in view, despite the addition of other columns, move the column and freeze it on the Column Organization page. To learn more, see Organize Grade Center Data.