Enabling Weekly Maximum Points

Board owners and administrators can set the maximum number of points that a board follower can earn in a week. This feature is designed to discourage students from trying to wait until the end of the semester to earn all their points, or possibly trying to do it all right at the beginning of the semester. Students can always participate as much as they like, but can only earn points up to the weekly maximum each week.  It is best to set the weekly maximum before the semester begins or, at least, to account for the amount of time left in the semester if you add it.

It is important to note that the weekly maximum is a "soft limit" for earning points*.  That is, the weekly maximum points earned by students can go beyond the maximum that is set, so that the system can reward the student the full amount of points for the last action they completed before getting to their point maximum.  These students are not, however, getting "extra points" they haven't earned.  They will just start the next week with a point total that is a little bit closer to their overall participation requirement.

The weekly maximum is disabled by default. To enable it:

1. Log into the relevant board.

2. Click on the “Settings” tab and then click on “Points”.

3. Check "Enable weekly maximum points setting" box.

4. Enter in a weekly maximum point limit. A good rule-of-thumb is to set the maximum by taking the total points for the course and dividing it by the number of weeks, then adding an additional 25% of that weekly point goal [i.e., (total points / # of weeks) + .25 x (total points / # of weeks)].  This provides students some flexibility and will lead to you having to address fewer concerns about grades.

5. Select the starting time for the weekly cycle.  We recommend setting this deadline at a time when few students are likely to be using Yellowdig, but in a way that coincides in an obvious way with the class.  For example, if the last class of the week is in the morning on Thursday, end the Yellowdig week on Wednesday at midnight or Thursday at 3:00am so that you can discuss anything that gets posted during the last class for that week.  Or, alternatively, end the Yellowdig week on Thursday at midnight so that you can remind any students that don't have their points to get them by the end of the night.

6. Click “Saving settings” at the top to submit.

 

*The "soft limit" works as follows.  Let us assume the weekly maximum is set to 65 on a board. If one of the users has 60 points, and then makes a new post which is normally 10 points, they will earn the full 10 points and have 70 additional points at the end of the week (i.e., higher than the weekly max of 65).  This conscious design choice is used for a number of reasons:

1. Learners get confused or upset if they complete an action and don't get the full number of points they expect for that action, as would often happen with a "hard limit."  That often leads to them thinking there is an error in their grade calculation or to them feeling like they have "wasted" their time.  The ultimate result of a hard stop at the weekly maximum is more inbound concerns to instructors from students about their grades, which increases frustration and time spent for both learners and instructors.

2. The points and gamification elements of the platform are meant to be motivators for students who might not otherwise participate.  From a motivational perspective, it makes little sense to withhold points from learners for completing actions that you are trying to promote and that have value for students.  That is especially true when you think about the effect of participation at the class level; if the goal is to promote discussion that requires regular engagement and turn-taking, each additional Pin or Comment builds a better discussion for the next learner who uses Yellowdig.  The weekly point maximum was not really intended to cap participation in Yellowdig, it is meant as a fail-safe to ensure engagement over time.  It mostly prevents a student from signing-in on the last day of the class, posting a lot without really contributing to a discussion, and having them still end up with the same participation grade as someone who actually participated in the community.

3. It is rarely the motivated students who earn at or above the maximum each week who will then choose not to participate in the last weeks of the class, even if they already have their 100% participation.  Though it is technically possible that students could "game the system" and purposely earn above the maximum to be able to stop participating before the very end of a course, students who consistently earn the maximum participation scores almost never do.  That is because they are typically participating in the community and discussions; over the course of a semester these students usually truly recognize and appreciate the value that the platform provides them and are motivated to participate regardless of the points.  Also, even if a student does stop participating, the student will have done the same amount of work over the course of the semester as any other student who got a 100% participation grade; students do not get "extra credit" toward their point total by getting over the point maximum each week.

 

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