Timesaving Tips Using the Blackboard Grade Center

The Grade Center provides flexibility to meet the needs of basic and advanced users, institutional requirements, and a diverse student population. Faculty can easily and efficiently perform most Grade Center activities from a central view. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of the Grade Center.

1. Hide unnecessary columns

Blackboard by default adds several new columns to the the Grade Center, including: Username, Student ID, Last Access, and Availability. There are two options to hide columns in the Grade Center, Hide from Students (on/off) (students will not see the column category in their My Grades), and Hide from Instructor View. How to: click the down arrow next to the title of the column, then click either Hide from Students (on/off) or Hide from Instructor View.

2. Organize columns

New columns added to the Grade Center are by default added at the end of the Grade Center, with Total and Weighted Total columns near the beginning. Reorder columns to a logical order, such as sequential order by due date. Note - The order in which students see their individual assignment scores in My Grades is the order of the columns in the Full Grade Center View. How to: Select Manage from the tabs above the Grade Center, then click Column Organization. Click and drag the mult-directional arrows next to each column's name, to reorder them.

3. Customize grading schema for automatically computing letter grades

A grading schema can be configured to match the grading scale used to compute letter grades. Once customized, this grading schema can be applied to display students' individual assignment grade, running total, or even final grade as a letter. Apply your grading scale for assigning letter grades to the grading schema. How to: Select Manage from the tabs above the Grade Center, then click Grading Schemas. Click the drop-down arrow beside the existing Letter schema and click on Edit. Remove unneeded letter grade values, such as plus and minus grades, and adjust existing percentages of letter grades to match grading scale. Click the Submit button to save.

4. Add custom categories and apply to grade columns

Categories assigned to columns are included in students display to clearly identify the category that an assignment is applied to and can be used to easily sort columns in Smart Views. Add custom categories to match the types of assignments used to assess student learning. Then, when adding columns, assign a category to each column. How to: Select Manage from the tabs above the Grade Center, then click Categories. Click the Create Category button and enter a name and description if desired. Click the Submit button to save.

5. Shorten column titles by adding Grade Center display name

In addition to the descriptive column name assigned to grade, a shortened Grade Center display name not exceeding 15 characters can be added that will become the column's header in the Grade Center. How to: When adding a new column, enter the shortened column title in the Grade Center Name box.

6. Enter grades directly into cells

Enter grades directly through the Grade Center spreadsheet. How to: To add a grade column, click on the Create Column tab. After filling in the column information and submitting, enter grades for students directly into the column cells. Click in a cell to add a score, then press the Enter key to save and move to the next row.

7. Provide feedback on any student scores

Comments can be added to any score. Add comments to student scores when you want to provide individual feedback or clarification on a score. Comments are visible to students in My Grades. How to: Enter the score in a cell. Then, click the down arrows and click Quick Comment. Enter comments in the Feedback to User box. Optional Grading Notes can also be added available only for instructors and teaching assistants.

8. Display score and percent or letter grade for the same item

Once entering a student score, a secondary display can automatically also be displayed, showing the percentage or letter grade equivalent of the score earned. Add a secondary display to any column where this additional grade view would be helpful. The secondary display is only available in the Grade Center and not My Grades. How to: Click the down arrows next to the title of the column, then click Edit Column Information. Select the desired format of the additional grade display from the Secondary Display drop down menu.

9. Exempt a grade for an individual student

For a student who has a legitimate reason for missing an assignment, that score can now be exempted from the student's cumulative grade. Notation that a score has been exempted is visible in the Full Grade Center and My Grades, and can be reverted if needed. The original score assigned can also still be found. Exempt scores for students who aren't required to make up missing assignments. How to: Click the down arrow icon within a cell and then click Exempt Grade.

10. Create customized "Smart Views"

Smart Views provide the ability to categorize students into groups based on selected criteria. Once created and saved, these customized views of the Grade Center area available from the Current View drop-down menu within the Grade Center. How to: Select Manage from the tabs above the Grade Center, then click Create Smart Views. Click the Create Smart View button. Enter a name for the view and then select the type of view, criteria, and any desired filtering. Click the Submit button to save.

11. Automatically drop the lowest grade

An assortment of grade computation features are available, including the capability to easily drop the lowest grade from scores within a given category. Columns containing scores must be assigned to the same category. How to: Click the down arrows next to the title of the Weighted Total column, then click Edit Column Information. Select the categories you wish to include in computing the weighted total grade and note the percentage weight for each category. Under Drop Grades for the category, enter 1 in the lowest grades box. Click the Submit button to save.

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