Information Technology Services

# Blackboard - Faculty & Staff

## Step 3: Add Materials and Set up Course

The Grade Center affords the opportunity to post not only grades associated with work completed within Blackboard, but also the addition of grades for work completed outside of Blackboard. Students can access their grades by clicking on the "My Grades" link in the Course Menu.

### Setting up the Grade Center

There are a number of settings you must review and/or configure before you use the Grade Center. It is recommended that you approach them in the following order:

#### Review and/or Create New Grading Schema

Some items are automatically added to the Grade Center when they are added to the course (e.g. Blackboard assignments, blogs, discussion boards, journals, surveys, Turnitin assignments, and tests). Assessments not delivered within Blackboard must be manually added directly into the Grade Center by adding a Grade Column. See How to Create Grade Columns.

#### Extra Credit

The Total Points Possible for an Extra Credit or Attendance Demerit column must be set to zero. There is no equitable way to weight Extra Credit or Attendance Demerits as columns in the Weighted Total. In order for Extra Credit or an Attendance Demerit to be applied in a Weighted Total, they must first be associated with a category that is being weighted. See How to Create an Extra Credit Column.

Calculated Columns afford the opportunity to combine the scores of a number of individual standard columns to create a new calculated column. Perhaps the most frequent use for a Calculated Column would be to take the scores of a number of quizzes, drop the lowest quiz score, and create a new Calculated Column for quizzes where the lowest quiz score has been dropped. See How to Create Total Column or How to Create Weighted Columns.

#### Review and/or Configure the Total & Weighted Total Column Settings

• The Total column should be used when the final grade is to be calculated on a straight point basis: total points earned divided by total points possible.
• The Weighted Total column should be used when the final grade is to be calculated by averaging the grade for items and/or categories and then multiplying that by a percentage for weighting. See Configuring the Weighted Total in the Grade Center.

Take a few minutes to review and configure either the Total or the Weighted Total column settings. It is recommended that you not show the total you are not using to your students. By default, both of these columns are set up to include All Grade Columns in their calculations and to calculate as a running total (including only those items with grades or attempts). If everything in your Grade Center is supposed to be included in the total, then everything should be in order for the Total column. In addition, if you have included manually added practice quizzes, for instance, that are not supposed to be included in the overall grade for the term, you will want to make certain that those columns are not included in the Total and/or Weighted Total column settings.

Note: If you are using the Weighted Total Column you must select either Percentage or Letter Grade to display the grade. If you display Score, the value will not appear to add up and will lead to confusion.

Note: When the Grade Center is set to calculate the Total or Weighted Total as a "running total," you must manually enter a grade of "zero" for any assessment a student does not complete, otherwise, that student's grade will be calculated against points possible, reduced by the points possible for the item not completed.

Once your Grade Center includes the columns you need with the grading preferences you have specified, you will want to organize it in order to view it in a way that meets your needs and your preferences. See About Organizing the Grade Center Data.

#### Organize Smart Views

• If you are teaching multiple sections of the same course in a single Blackboard class, you could create separate views of the Grade Center for each section of the class.
• If you have a student coming to discuss his or her grades, you could create a view that shows just that student's grades.
• If you wish to identify those students whose performance on an assessment was less than stellar, you could create a view of those students who scored beneath a certain benchmark
• Learn how to apply Smart Views in the Grade Center.

The "Needs Grading" screen provides quick access to all items in need of grading, rather than going to the Full Grade Center and having to hunt for items that need your attention. Attempts are placed in a queue for easy navigation among items.

There are a variety of ways that grades can be entered into the Grade Center. For electronic assessments delivered through Blackboard (tests, surveys, discussion boards, journals, blogs, wikis, assignments, Turnitin assignments), please refer to resources for those specific assessment tools for additional information. For manually created columns, users will simply manually enter grades.

There are several options available for dropping the lowest "x" grades for an assessment.

• Dropping a Grade by Exempting - Exempting removes the grade from the Running Total and the Running Weighted Totals columns but does not delete the grade information. Exempting grades requires you to manually search for the lowest grade for each students and manually exempt that one. An Exempted grade can be reversed. This option can be done directly in the cells of the Grade Center but can be time consuming with a large class. Exempting a grade is most useful when a student enrolls late in a course and you wish to exempt them from a graded assessment completed prior to the time they enrolled in the course. The total points possible for that student will be reduced by the points possible for the exempted assessment.
• Dropping a Grade using the Running Weighted Totals Column - If you are using the Weighted Total column to weight all the grades in your Grade Center, this is the option to use. Generally it is used when weighting by Category. When you select the Category to weight, you will see a setting allowing you to drop the lowest "x" grades.
• Dropping a Grade using a Calculated Column - If you are not using the Weighted Total, but using the Total (points) column, this is the option to use. You will be creating a Calculated Averaged Column to average the grades and drop the lowest. Then you will need to modify the Total column to include the Calculated Average column and not the individual columns that feed into that Calculated Average. It is up to your discretion as to whether or not to show this Calculated Average column to your students.