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.
  • Grading System: Total Columns - The merits of total points and weighted total grading columns.
  • 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.
  • Advanced Techniques - Interactive rubrics and monitoring student performance.

Setting Up the Grade Center

About the Grade Center

The Grade Center is an online grading tool that enables instructors to record grade data, track student work, and share scores, private comments, 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; assignments; 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.

Getting Started

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. To access the Grade Center, simply select Full Grade Center within the Grade Center section of the Control Panel. Be certain you are in the course in which you would like to work, with Edit Mode ON.

Categories

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.

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.

Calculated Columns

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.


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.

Grading System: Total Columns

Total Columns

The Grade Center in a Blackboard course comes with two different total columns, a Total Column and a Weighted Total Column, that can be used to calculate and display total scores or grades. Each one can be set to display a score (by default), a percentage, a letter grade, or complete/incomplete.

By default, both columns will be visible in your view of the Grade Center as well as in your students’ views of My Grades. Each total column can also be repositioned to sit at the right or left of other columns in the ‘Gradebook’ view.

Which Should I Use?

The Total Column adds up all the points possible in other columns, while the Weighted Total Column allows you to assign differing percentage weights to an item, such as a term paper, and/or a whole category such as tests.

  • Some instructors use only the Total Column, but assign very different point values to different activities, for example 10 points for each quiz and 600 points for the term paper. In such a course, the weighting of grades is handled directly through point values.
  • Other instructors prefer to score activities for 100 points possible, but consider 100 points for the final exam to be worth much more overall than 100 points for a weekly quiz; in a course such as this, the weighting feature of the Weighted Total Column is very useful, since the percentage weights you announce in the Grading section of your syllabus can be reflected in Blackboard Grade Center calculations.
  • Some instructors like to use both Columns, for example, displaying in the Total Column all the raw points a student has earned during the course and using the Weighted Total Column to specify the weighting percentages and display the related letter grade.

Using the Grade Center

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.

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.

Changing Grades

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. For specific instructions, visit Access and Grading on our Assignments page.

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.

Exempting Grades

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.

Data Viewing Options

Sorting Columns

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.

User Statistics

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.

Customizing Views

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.

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.

Creating Reports

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.

Exporting Grades

Working Offline

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. Follow the instructions below for different aspects of working offline.

To Print Grade Center: Follow the steps in Downloading the Grade Center and Opening the Downloaded Grade Center File into Excel, both below. Once the file has been opened in Excel, you can make any formatting changes (i.e., widths of columns, bold text, etc.) you desire. Then use the Print command in Excel to print out the spreadsheet.

If you have made changes to downloaded Grade Center, but during upload, an error message appears and the file is not uploaded:

  • Make sure the labels (first row) have not been changed. Make sure the file is saved as .CSV, not the default .XLS file format.
  • Sometimes, when grades are downloaded to a delimited file, the first column/first row cell will have ["Last Name"]. This will need to be changed to just [Last Name] and your excel sheet will need to be saved as a .CSV.

Note: The instructions given below work for Excel, but may not work as well in other spreadsheet applications.

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. For troubleshooting, see the given scenarios below these instructions.

Part 1: Preparing the Column Within Blackboard

  • In the Grade Center, either create or reuse a Total Column (Grade Columns will work if you input 100 as total points possible).
  • Edit Column Information to make sure that

    • It has a descriptive name (Midterm or Final will do)
    • Only needed Grade Columns are included (if it is a Total Column)
    • The Primary Display is set to Letter
    • If students have earned more than 100%, you must modify the grading schema to include above 100%.
  • Check through the grades to make sure they are correct.

Part 2: Using myUK to post grades from Blackboard

1. In myUK, click the Faculty Services tab.

2. Click Grading within the Faculty Services tab.

3. Select the semester from the Select a Year / Term drop-down selection box.

4. Select the grades you will be entering, either Mid-term or Final from the Select a Grade Type drop-down selection box.

5. Select the course from the Get Roster For: drop-down selection box.

6. Wait for computer to process request. This may take a few minutes.

7. Click the pale yellow button Retrieve Grades From Blackboard (beta).

8. Wait for computer to process request. This may take a few minutes.

9. A Select… button for a drop-down list appears next to the Retrieve Grades From Blackboard button. Use the list to choose the column from Blackboard that you want to use to post the grades. Note: the image above shows the button as Retrieve Grades from Blackboard (beta). When you find this button in your myUK, it will not have (beta).

10. Wait for computer to process request. This may take a few minutes.

11. Letter grades will be placed in the Grade column in the roster listing for each student.

12. Check all the grades to make sure they are the desired grades. To manually change a grade for a student, click in the Grade box associated with the student and enter the appropriate grade. This can be used to both override and correct grades.

13. Click the Validate button, to ensure that the grades listed constitute valid data. If not, an orange Error button will appear at the left of a student’s name. Manually change the grade.

14. Click Save button to save grades. You can come back later and make changes.

15. When all the grades are entered, checked, and validated, click Submit. This will send the grades to the Registrar and be made available for the students to see. Once submitted, the grades cannot be altered without contacting the Registrar.

16. Repeat steps 2-15 as needed for other courses/sections.

 

Scenarios

A MyUK drop-down menu does not show a necessary selection.

  • Make sure you are using a supported browser for myUK.
  • Close the browser and try again (or try a different browser).

Grades from the correct column in Grade Center have been pulled in, but grades have changed.

  • If the numeric scores for the letter grades have been modified in Blackboard, there may be some problems in uploading the grades into myUK. This happens sometimes with Weighted Total columns. A quick workaround is to create a grade column manually, entering 100 for the total points possible and then enter the percentages from the Weighted Total Column as the scores for the Grade Column.
  • Also, please make certain that 'Letter' is set as your Primary Display.

Incorrect grades have been pulled but not verified (confirmed) within myUK.

There are several options once the grades from Blackboard have been entered into the Grade field.

  • If the grades have been retrieved from Blackboard and you notice some mistakes, you can immediately change individual grades manually.
  • Once the grades look OK, you will want to Validate Grades. This makes sure that the data retrieved from Blackboard is of a type that can be used by the Campus Management/Grading system.
  • You can Save Grades and come back later to look at them or change them. This is NOT the end of the process but simply lets you take a break.
  • The final step is to Submit Grades to Registrar. Once you submit the grades to the registrar, they are gone and paperwork has to be filled out to change the grade.

One or several of the students’ grades are not uploaded from Blackboard.

  • A grade from Blackboard will not be pulled in unless the student was automatically enrolled into Blackboard (i.e., a student manually enrolled into a class in Blackboard will not have his or her grade entered by this process.
  • If you have given extra credit and a student has over 100% as their final grade, the grade will not transfer. You must manually enter an A for such a student.
  • If you have customized your Blackboard settings to show an F for failing grades (instead of the University standard E), failing grades will not upload to myUK. You must manually enter an E for students who receive Fs.

Advanced Techniques

Interactive Rubrics

The Interactive Rubric is an advanced grading tool within Blackboard that allows instructors to develop evaluation criteria for an assignment. Providing rubrics can improve students' understanding of assignment requirements and the grades they receive. When evaluating student work with an Interactive Rubric, scores and feedback are added directly to the Grade Center, making grading easier for instructors and more meaningful for students.

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.

Student Activity

You can track student activity, such as attendance, in your courses. Blackboard also has different tools to track student logins, the time students have spent in the course, and what pages in the course they are accessing. The Retention Center (written overview linked below) can be used to monitor these performance indicators for each student.

The Retention Center is a feature that can be used to email Course Users (Students and/or their Observers) when the criteria for a particular Rule are met. This is a useful evaluation tool so that instructors may create proactive and/or attentive communication concerning a Student’s performance. Note: Grade Rules can not only be used to give warning and/or encouragement to students who may score below a certain threshold or at an average level, but also to praise those who score at an above average level.

To work with the Retention Center, first make sure you are in the course you would like to work in and that you have the edit mode set to ON.

  • In the Evaluation section of the Control Panel, select Retention Center.

You may use the default rules already established, or you can click on Customize in the top right corner to create and edit your own Rules. The following are Rules that can be created in the Retention Center:

  • Course Activity Rule: triggers an alert if a Student's time spent in the Blackboard course is at a certain point above or below the class average.
  • Grade Rule: triggers an alert if a Student's score falls above or below a certain score or percentile in any Grade Center column, including their cumulative grade in the course or a specific exam or assignment.
  • Missed Deadline Rule: triggers an alert if a Student has not turned in an Assignment by a certain date (Only Assignments, Tests, and Surveys with a due date can be selected for the Due Date Rule). You can also use this rule to monitor Students who have missed several deadlines by an amount of time you specify.
  • Course Access Rule: triggers an alert if a Course User has not accessed the Blackboard Course within a time-period determined by you.

You can send email notifications to individual Students or to all Students who have triggered a certain Rule.

For a complete overview of the Retention Center, view the links below. Note: the availability of a rule determines whether it is activated or not. To disable the rule without deleting it, follow the instructions for editing the rule, and change the availability.

 

 

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