This document explains how to work with Assignments in Blackboard. To jump directly to a section, select a link!
- Assingment Creation - Get started creating assignments right away.
- Associating a Rubric - Creating a rubric, associating a rubric, and grading with rubrics.
- Access and Grading - Downloading assignment files, grading assignments, and clearing attempts.
- SafeAssign - How SafeAssignments work, creating SafeAssignments, and grading SafeAssignments.
- SafeAssign Work Around - How to upload regular assignments into SafeAssign Direct Submit.
Assignments is a Course Tool within Blackboard that allows Instructors to distribute assignments and receive and grade students' completed work via an online dropbox. Assignments can have associated files, possible points, and availability and due dates.
Getting Started with Assignment Creation
Begin by opening the particular Content Area you would like to work with, and follow the instructions for How to Create an Assignment on the Creating and Editing Assignments page of the Blackboard Help site (linked below). Once the assignment is created, it will automatically have a category within the Grade Center.
- If you choose to attach a file to this Assignment, the uploaded file will not automatically appear when students view the Assignment. They will be provided a link to view the document in a new browser window.
- The Limit Availability section and the Due Dates section are different! Limit Availability controls when students can view and make submissions for an assignment. Assignments that students submit after a given Due Date will be marked "Late" in the Grade Center.
- An assignment may be edited at any time after its creation, but it is strongly recommended not to alter the assignment after students have submitted work.
The newest update of the Blackboard system allows Rubrics to be associated with Assignments, Essay, File Response, and Short Answer Test questions, Blogs and Journals, Wikis, and Discussion Board threads and forums. An associated rubric is attached to the assignment, and can be used to grade an assignment by interactively adding the grades into the rubric's grids. The grades will automatically be entered into the Grade Center when grading in this manner.
- Rubrics (written instructions)
Creating a Rubric
When creating a rubric, you are provided with a sample shell which you subsequently edit to suit your grading needs. Rows and Columns can be reordered by clicking the reordering icon. Once a rubric has been used for grading, it cannot be edited. Copy the rubric instead to create a duplicate rubric that can be edited (before it is used for grading).
Step-by-step instructions can be obtained on Blackboard Help's Rubrics page (linked below). Simply read How to Create a Rubric.
Associating a Rubric
A rubric can be associated with a given Assignment from the Grading section of the Assignment's edit page. Clicking on Add Rubric, you can select a rubric you have already created (Select Rubric), create a new rubric (Create New Rubric), or modify an existing rubric (Create from Existing).
Once a rubric has been selected for the gradable content in the edit page, a message will appear. When associating a rubric, the points value the Rubric will be assigned to the gradable content's Points Possible. Click OK. A new set of options will appear under the Add Rubric button. For more information about these options, see the How to Manage Associated Rubrics section of the Rubrics page from the Blackboard Help site (link below). This page also includes a section on How to Grade with Rubrics.
Don't forget to Submit your changes after associating a Rubric!
Grading with a Rubric
To grade with a rubric, follow the same process as before. However, instead of adding a number to the grade box, select the View Rubric button. There, you can select cells to apply point values, and even alter the total points assigned as the grade.
For detailed instructions, visit the Rubrics page (link below) and locate How to Grade with Rubrics.
The Assignment files which students have uploaded can be accessed from the Full Grade Center. Locate the column associated with the Assignment you wish to grade, and click on the Action Link (drop-down) menu for a variety of options.
Downloading Assignment Files
To download a student's Assignment file, navigate to the Action Link menu (icon pictured above) and follow the instructions for Downloading Assignments below. The Assignment file(s) will be in a single .zip file. Be sure to save the zip file to a location from which it can be retrieved easily. Once saved to your computer, you can open the zip file and grade the assignments. If you wish to add comments or make changes to the Assignment file, be sure to save all edits under a different filename.
- Downloading Assignments (written instructions)
- Downloading Assignments (tutorial video)
- Cleaning Up Assignment Files (tutorial video)
After viewing submissions, you can assign grades in the Full Grade Center. Again, use the Action Link menu (pictured above), and select View Grade Details. You will then need to select the correct attempt (if the Assignment allows multiple attempts), and then click on View Attempt. From this page, you can select Grade Attempt, and use the associated Rubric (if applicable) to grade the Assignment.
This Grade Assignment page allows you to:
- view the student's submissions
- enter comments in a text box (either as Feedback to User or as notes to yourself)
- upload a file you may have created by adding comments to or editing the assignment
Clearing an Attempt
When creating assignments, instructors may choose how many attempts a student may submit. With the Allow Single Attempt setting, instructors will need to clear a student's attempt in the Grade Center if another submission is desired.
To clear a student's attempt, follow the pdf instructions below.
- Clear Attempt (PDF)
SafeAssign is an advanced course tool within Blackboard that can be used as both an educational guide and a deterrent against plagiarism. Student work submitted through SafeAssign is automatically compared to a database of academic work to identify areas of overlap and potential concern. SafeAssign is an alternate method of receiving assignments and is completely separate from the Assignments course tool, though it functions very similarly: a Grade Center Column is created with the creation of the assignment, and SafeAssign can be added to any content area within the Blackboard course.
SafeAssign creates a plagiarism report (SA Report) that both students and instructors can access, and can create opportunities to help students identify how to properly cite sources rather than paraphrase. SafeAssign is seamlessly integrated into Blackboard at UK, and is freely available to faculty that wish to take advantage of it.
How SafeAssignments Work
SafeAssign is based on a unique text matching algorithm capable of detecting exact and inexact matching between a paper and source material. SafeAssignments are compared against several different databases, including the Global Reference Database. Blackboard’s Global Reference Database is a separate database where students voluntarily donate copies of their papers to help prevent plagiarism. It is separated from each institution’s internal database, where all papers are stored by each corresponding institution, and students are free to select the option to check their papers without submitting them to the Global Reference Database. Students submit their papers to the database voluntarily and agree not to remove papers in the future. Submissions to the Global Reference Database are extra copies that are given voluntarily for the purpose of helping with plagiarism prevention. Blackboard does not claim ownership of submitted papers.
- About SafeAssign (written instructions)
SafeAssign accepts files in .doc, .docx, .odt, .txt, .rtf, .pdf, and .html file formats only. The preferred formats are .doc and .docx, with a 10 MB size limit. Be sure to make your students are aware of the preferred formats and file size within the instruction/description section of the SafeAssignment.
- Creating SafeAssignments (written instructions)
- Adding a SafeAssignment (tutorial video)
- Creating SafeAssignments -- with images (PDF)
SA Reports usually take 10-15 minutes to process after a student submits their material. However, during high usage times, it is possible for the SA Report process to take longer than 24 hours. The SafeAssign service is not meant to be instantaneous, and this must be taken into consideration when instructors schedule their deadlines for the SafeAssignments. Regardless of the SA Report, instructors can view a student's material immediately after the submission.
- Managing SafeAssignment Submissions (written instructions)
- Grading SafeAssignments-- with images (PDF)
- Workaround: Grading a SafeAssignment with a Rubric (PDF)
Synchronizing a course with SafeAssign is important to do after a Course Copy has been performed in which SafeAssign assignments have been copied over. If this is not done, students may encounter an error when attempting to submit a SafeAssign assignment.
1. Enter the course, with Edit Mode ON.
2. From the Course Tools section of the Control Panel, select SafeAssign.
3. In SafeAssign page, select SafeAssignments.
4. In the SafeAssignments page, select the Synchronize this Course button.
The University of Kentucky Analytics & Technologies (UKAT) is currently working with Blackboard to resolve issues with the SafeAssign tool. If instructors copy SafeAssign assignments from one course to another, they may receive error messages when attempting to access submission attempts, students receive error messages when attempting to submit, or instructors may not be able to access submissions through the Grade Center.
Until this matter is resolved, there is a work around that will allow students to upload their assignments without fear of missing deadlines and still give faculty the option to use SafeAssign's plagiarism tools without having to depend completely on SafeAssign being available to grade assignments.
The following workaround involves instructors creating a regular assignment to replace a SafeAssign assignment so the students can submit documents. It includes how they can download those assignments and run them through SafeAssign if it is needed.
Please Note: For Blackboard Courses with large enrollments, instructors will need to create smaller .ZIP files by only selecting a portion of submissions at a time.
Creating a Regular Assignment
1. Within the Blackboard course, navigate to the content area in which you post assignments.
2. Mouse over Assessments and select Assignment.
3. Once in the Create Assignment page, fill in the fields as you wish.
4. Have your students upload their documents to the Assignment you just created.
- About Creating and Editing Assignments (written instructions)
Using Assignment File Download
1. Once all submissions have been uploaded, navigate to the Grade Center.
2. In the Grade Center, scroll to the right until you find the column of the Assignment you created.
3. Click once on the drop-down menu and select Assignment File Download.
4. In the Download Assignment page, select all of the user entries which you would like to download (there is a 'check all' check box at the top of the list; if you have more than 100 entries, please only select 50 at a time) and select Submit.
5. Click once on the Download assignments now link to download a .ZIP file to your local computer.
- Downloading Assignments (written instructions)
Using SafeAssign DirectSubmit
1. Select SafeAssign from the Course Tools section of the Control Panel.
2. In SafeAssign, please select DirectSubmit.
3. In the DirectSubmit page, please, make sure that the Shared tab is selected.
4. In the Shared Direct Submit for the course, first create a New Folder (it is best to use the title of the Assignment the .ZIP file of Submissions is for).
5. Select the link of the Folder you just created.
6. Select the blue circle with the white plus symbol to Submit a Paper.
7. In the Paper Submission page, either leave the Submission Options check boxes unchecked, or select the Submit as Draft (do not add papers to Institutional Search Database); in the File Upload section, select the Browse button to find the .ZIP file of assignment submissions you downloaded to your local computer; Select Submit.
8. The instructor will then be provided with a list of submissions, the .txt files are just summaries of documents submitted by the students and can be ignored or deleted.
9. Once the .zip file has been successfully submitted, please wait the usual amount of time to get the feedback you need to grade the assignments.
10. To retrieve the Matching and SA Report information, please navigate back to Control Panel > Course Tools > SafeAssign > DirectSubmit > Shared > Assignment Folder created.
- Using DirectSubmit (written instructions)