Blackboard Grade Center
This document explains how to utilize the grade center in Blackboard. To jump directly to a section, select a link!
- Setting Up the Grade Center - About the grade center and the environment, basic organization and preparing for use in your course.
- Using the Grade Center - Entering, deleting, changing, and exempting grades as well as using excel spreadsheets to work offline and other methods of entering grades.
- Data Viewing Options - Sorting columns, seeing user statistics, customizing your view, and sending emails from the grade center.
- Exporting Grades - Working offline/exporting to Excel spreadsheets and uploading grades to myUK/SAP.
About the Grade Center
The Grade Center is an online grading tool that enables instructors to track student work and share scores and feedback with students throughout the semester. The grade center is integrated with gradable exercises such as quizzes, assignment file uploads, and discussion boards, as well as newer tools such as journals, blogs, and wikis. The Grade Center offers a variety of specialized calculation and report options and can be used with a spreadsheet program like Excel for more advanced calculations. All primary instructors, secondary instructors, and TAs with the Grader role have the ability to enter grades and customize the Grade Center. Students have a specialized view of their individual grades in their personal "My Grades" area.
Instructors can readily add columns to the Grade Center for participation grades or for offline activities. However, there are several features of Blackboard that automatically create their own grade columns: discussion Board (forums or threads); quizzes, tests, or surveys; assignment drop boxes; and gradable blogs, journals, and wikis. If instructors do create such columns manually and later add any of those features with automatically generated columns, the Grade Center will display duplicate columns. This can be confusing for instructors and students.
Important Notes Before You Begin
Before beginning work with the grade center, instructors will need to decide whether they will be using a weighted total column or a regular total column. A weighted total column calculates a grade based on the percentages assigned to specific categories and columns that have been chosen. A regular total column simply calculates the cumulative points received in relation to the points allowed. Both are present by default, but additional columns may be created.
Note: All currently enrolled students will automatically appear in the grade center once the course is created. If any students are missing from the grade center after the add/drop window is closed, please contact the UKIT Service Desk for assistance.
- Creating and Managing Grade Center Columns (written instructions)
The Blackboard Grade Center might look like a complicated interface with many unfamiliar names for otherwise familiar grading practices, but it actually functions just like any other grade book or spreadsheet. Becoming familiar with Blackboard's terminology and layout can help reduce the learning curve of using the Grade Center.
Like the name implies, categories can be used to group columns together and better organize the data in the grade center. They can be used to add weight to certain grades during calculation, to generate specific reports, and help filter the view of the grade center when seeing everything is unnecessary. For example, instructors may use the Assignment category to see only assignments, hiding other items ( tests, surveys, graded discussion boards, etc.) that may exist in the grade center. Alternatively, instructors may assign weight to a category, placing that weight on all the items in the category and carrying over into grade calculation. Categories are also used in creating Smart Views, which allow instructors to filter out information on assignments, students, or categories they may not care to see at one point or another. Certain default categories exist upon creation of the grade center, but new categories may be added or deleted at any time.
- Setting Up the Grade Center (written instructions - Navigate to "About Categories in the Grade Center")
Add a Column for a Graded Item
Lots of columns are created by default, but some assignments may need extra columns created. Some instructors may prefer to break down more general default columns into cumulative stages of grading. How ever an instructor may prefer to set up their assignments and grading schema, it is possible to add or delete columns at any time. Any new column added manually will appear at the far right of the grade center. Use the scroll bar at the bottom to scroll right if needed. See also the section on changing column layout.
- Creating and Managing Grade Center Columns (written instructions - Navigate to "How to Create Grade Columns in the Grade Center")
Calculated columns can take grades from multiple columns and generate a total, average, minimum or maximum score, add weight (by column, category, or both), or set criteria for any Adaptive Release or Early Warning System rules that are created. These columns can also be nested; for example, a calculated column can include in its calculation the results from another calculated column. For the most part, calculated columns are a redundant feature that do much of the work that separate types of columns can also do. Most instructors will not need calculated columns, but this information may be useful for instructors with more complex grading schemas.
- Creating and Managing Grade Center Columns (written instructions - Navigate to "About Calculated Columns in the Grade Center")
Student View of Grades
Instructors control which tools are available (visible) to students, so if a student doesn't see a link to the grade center on their Tools page, it is likely that the tool is disabled (see Configuring Course Shell for instructions on turning tools on/off). Otherwise, the page simply displays the students' grades, any comments the instructor may have left, items that have yet to be graded, and other grade-related information.
- Student Grades (written instructions)
Entering Grades or Scores Manually
Entering scores into a column can be quick and easy. Using the Enter or Return keys, rather than clicking each cell separately with a mouse, automatically enters the score you've typed as well as moving the cursor down one cell. Instructors who are familiar with the number pad at the far right of a conventional keyboard can find this feature especially speedy.
- Entering Grades (written instructions)
Enter Grades or Scores from Excel Spreadsheets
Working offline and uploading grades to the grade center can be tricky. Files and the data in those files must be formatted very specifically to avoid duplication of columns and grades, and to ensure accurate calculation of grades. As long as data is correctly formatted, however, using Excel spreadsheets can be a convenient way to supplement the grade center's capabilities.
- Uploading or Downloading Grade Center Items for Working Offline (written instructions)
Comments can be given on graded entries, allowing for extra feedback for a variety of reasons. An instructor may wish to comment on how well a student did on a specific portion of the assignment, or let the student know what drew down the grade. All entries can be commented on during, after, or when working offline in a separate file.
There are two different types of comments:
Feedback to User is visible to students when the grade is made public.
Grading Notes are only visible to instructors and TAs with the grader role. These notes cannot be seen by students or observers.
- Including Comments with a Grade Entry (written instructions)
- Creating Grading Notes (tutorial video)
Grades can be changed at any time by an instructor or TA with the grader role and any calculated/weighted columns automatically update with the new information.
Deleting or Reverting Grades
Occasionally, an instructor may need to delete a grade or revert it back to a previous entry. This is the case when a student experiences technical difficulties during a test and needs to retake it, or if a grade was accidentally changed and original information is not on hand to reenter the proper grade.
Note: all associated comments are deleted when a grade is deleted, so instructors should be sure to copy any comments that they wish to preserve to another location before proceeding.
- Deleting and Reverting Grades (written instructions)
From time to time, instructors may want or need to exempt students from completing certain assignments, such as when multiple assignments are offered as options to complete a chapter of study, or the instructor chooses to make the final exam optional for those in the class with a cumulative "A". Exempted grades are not included in grade calculations, so this feature ensures students' overall scores will not be skewed by unearned or placeholder scores.
- Exempting Grades (written instructions)
All new columns are editable after they have been created. They can be made visible or hidden from students or instructors, and be moved, changed, or rearranged. The contents of each column can also be sorted in various ways, or be downloaded for offline manipulation or backup.
Unlike new columns, the default user columns cannot be edited or deleted, but may be hidden if the instructor prefers not to see them.
- Creating and Managing Grade Center Columns (written instructions - Navigate to "How to Edit or Select Options for Grade Center Columns)
- Customizing the Grade Center View (tutorial video)
An instructor may wish to see statistics relating to a graded column or a specific user through out the course of the class. The column statistics page will show the mean, median, average, standard deviation, etc. of a specific column's data. The User Statistics page will show students' individual statistics in categories.
- Viewing Grade Center Statistics (written instructions)
Smart views are essentially a way to streamline viewing of the grade center. They provide quick and easy access to a filtered version of the grade center, so instructors don't have sift through so much data to find the items they want. Several default views are provided, but additional views can be individually customized. For example, an instructor could create a customized view to see overall student performance on a specific assignment or set of assignments without having to scroll through other items or to see all grades for a specific group of students.
- Using Smart Views in the Grade Center (written instructions)
- Creating Smart Views (tutorial video)
- Color Code the Grade Center (tutorial video)
Sending Email from the Grade Center
Email can be sent directly from the Blackboard Grade Center while an instructor or TA with the grader role is entering data. This feature provides functionality similar to that found in the Send Email Course Tool, but by eliminating extra navigation or saving the task of email for after grading, quick notes on assignments or questions about a student's performance can be sent while the thoughts are fresh and the task is at hand - to the benefit of both student and teacher.
- Sending Email from the Grade Center (written instructions)
Much like the report cards of grade school, Blackboard can generate reports based on various grade center criteria. Reports can then be printed and physically handed to the intended recipient, or turned into PDF files and emailed.
Just as instructors can upload grades to the grade center via an Excel spreadsheet or similarly formatted data file, instructors and graders can also download grades to a file on their computer.
- Uploading or Downloading Grade Center Items for Working Offline (written instructions)
- Working Offline With the Grade Center (tutorial video)
Uploading to myUK/SAP
At the end of the semester, all grades must be entered into myUK/SAP for reporting and administrative purposes. Rather than having to copy over each students grade individually, instructors can upload their course grades directly from Blackboard to myUK/SAP. After checking all grades are correct, all steps to transfer grades are completed within myUK/SAP.
- Uploading Grades to myUK/SAP (UK wiki instructions)