Enabling Weekly Maximum Points

Board owners and administrators can set the maximum number of points that a board follower can earn in a week. Although it is a weekly maximum, it helps to think about this feature as also allowing you to enforce a minimum amount of weekly participation.  This feature is designed to discourage students from trying to wait until the end of the semester to earn all their points.  It also prevents the few students who would try to do all of their participation right at the beginning of the semester.  Students can always participate as much as they like in any given week, 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 going over the point maximum (see the bottom of this knowledge base article for a complete explanation and the thought process behind this design).  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.  We recommend that the point maximum include a buffer to allow students to earn points a little bit ahead of schedule anyway and the soft limit aligns with the same thinking behind that suggestion.

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.

 

Weekly Maximum "Soft Limit"

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. 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 signs in to Yellowdig.  The weekly point maximum was not intended to cap participation in Yellowdig, it is meant as a fail-safe to ensure more students are engaging 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.

2. 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 hard limit would often lead to them thinking there was an error in their grade calculation.  The ultimate result of a hard stop at the weekly maximum is more concerns voiced to instructors from students about their grades, which increases frustration and time spent for both learners and instructors.

3. It is rarely the motivated students, who earn at or above the maximum each week, that will then choose not to participate in the last weeks of the class even if they already have their 100% participation for the course.  Though it is technically possible that students could "game the system" and purposely earn above the maximum to be able to stop participating at the end of a course, the students who consistently earn the maximum participation points rarely do.  That is because they typically come to 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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