Tech Tip: Manage Your Blackboard Grade Center

Simple tweaks to help the students in your course

The Blackboard Grade Center can be a very effective tool in keeping both you and your students up-to-date on their performance. There are several simple grade center organizational tweaks you can implement to help students know where they stand in your course.

Organize Your Columns

Screenshot of Blackboard column organization menu optionInstructors can manage the order in which columns appear in the grade center. As you are aware, new columns for assignments are added to the very end of the spreadsheet. In addition, columns from previous semesters may also be showing in your grade center. Arranging your grade center columns in chronological order and removing columns you no longer use makes it easier for both you and the student to see what work has been completed and what is left remaining in the semester.

To re-order columns so that they follow your organizational schema, click on the Manage menu at the top of the grade center and choose Column Organization. Once you have chosen this tool, a list of all of the grade columns will show on the screen. Arrows to the left of the grade column name will allow you to move these up and down until all of the columns have been properly ordered. Once you click the Submit button, the grade center will show in the order you have chosen. Columns that need to be removed can be moved to the end of the spreadsheet and deleted from the grade center.

Customize the Way Grades are Displayed

Screenshot of Blackboard grade display menu optionsOnce you have entered the score for an assignment into a grade column, Blackboard can add a secondary display for that same item, for example, showing the letter grade or the percentage. To add a secondary display, click on the down arrow next to the name of the column, then click edit column. On this screen, choose the primary and the secondary display of score from dropdown menus. Once you click submit, both you and the students will be able to see the primary and secondary displays.

Exempt a Grade for an Individual Student

If you have a circumstance in which a student has a legitimate reason for missing an assignment, the score can be exempted from the student’s cumulative grade. Notation that the score has been exempted is visible in the Grade Center and in the My Grades views. The exemption can be reverted, if necessary and the original score assigned can still be accessed. To create an exemption, click on the down arrow within an individual grade cell and choose Exempt Grade from the drop down menu. A grey circle will appear inside the cell in place of a grade for that student.

Create Custom Categories

Screenshot of Blackboard custom categories menu optionWhen you assign categories to all of the columns in your grade center, it is easier to see all of one type of graded activity at a time (using a Smart View). Once categories have been assigned to each column in the gradebook, a variety of other functions become possible, such as: a) dropping the lowest grade in one type of assignment; b) weighting the grades; and c) creating Smart Views, which means that you can isolate the view of the grade center to only see one type of assignment at a time.

To add categories to your grade center, click on the Manage menu at the top of the grade center and choose Categories. There are a variety of categories already created in Blackboard. To add new categories, click on the Create Category button and enter both a name and a description. Once your categories have been determined, then you can assign a category to each column in your grade center. Click on the down arrow next to the name of the column in the grade center and click on Edit column. Under the description, you will see a dropdown menu for Category. Click on the arrow to see the categories. Choose the category and submit to save your changes.

For More Information
To find more information on how to use the grade center, please take advantage of one of the workshops routinely offered by UMKC Online. Online videos and step by step instructions for the grade center can be found on the ITS Blackboard support page.