Blackboard Assignment Tool

Policy requirements

Note: all assessment, whether delivered online or not, needs to operate within the terms of the Assessment for Learning Policy and the Assignment Submission – Required Process Policy..

Changes to Blackboard’s Native Assessment Marking Process January 2018

Please note: Due to enforced changes from Blackboard, some important amendments will come into effect on 4th January 2018. To read more please visit the following page on Blackboard Assessment Updates.

Blackboard Assignments allow you to create online assessment submission points, mark and create feedback online or offline, and provide online grades for your students. Blackboard Assignments give you greater flexibility when grading but does not provide the Turnitin originality report.

Important note: If you want to use the Turnitin originality report tool then you will need to use Turnitin assignments rather than Blackboard Assignments.


Create a new assignment

Step 1
Navigate to the Assessment area of your module.

Step 2
From the action bar at the top of the module click Assessments and, from the drop down, select Assignment.

Step 3
Give your assignment a name and enter any instructions in the text box. You may also choose to attach a document to the assignment – this could be the full assignment brief or a file they will need to use as part of the assessment.

Step 4
Set the due date (including time) for your assignment.

Step 5
Set the points available for the assignment (generally this is 100).

Step 6
Decide whether you wish to use a rubric/marking grid with your assignment – if yes, add it here. See the Rubrics/Marking Grids section for more information.
You should then click on each of the three options areas to expand it and edit the assignment options to suit the needs of your assessment.

Submission details
The assignment can accept submissions that are either:

  • Individual – Each student submits their own piece(s) of work.
  • Group – Groups of students submit a single assignment together. See the Group Assignments page for more information.
  • Portfolio – Each student submits a portfolio (must be created using Blackboard portfolios – see Blackboard’s guide to portfolios)

You can also choose whether students can submit only one, a set number of times, or an unlimited number of times (only unlimited until the due date).

Grading options

  • Enable anonymous marking – student submissions will be anonymized to allow for blind marking (please note that this is trust-based functionality since tutors can easily switch on and off this functionality when grading via the Blackboard assignment tool). Anonymity will be turned off when grades are released. Jump to: Anonymous Marking for more information.
  • Enable delegated marking – in modules with multiple lecturers you can assign groups of submissions to particular markers. You can choose from:
    • None
    • All submissions
    • A random set (you will be able to specify how many)
    • A particular group of students (requires groups to already be set up, see: Groups

Step 7
You can choose whether to make the assignment available immediately or only before/after certain dates in order to restrict access. If you don’t want to restrict access then just leave this section blank.

Step 8
Click the Submit button to save and create your assignment.

Student assignment submission confirmations

When students submit assignments successfully, the Review Submission History page appears with information about their submitted assignments and a success message with a confirmation number. Students can copy and save this number as proof of their submissions.

Step 9
To ensure that students do not see their grades before all assignments have been marked you will then need to use the Grade Centre to hide them.

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Group assignments

Group assignments can be set up to enable a group of students to submit together. They are then graded and given feedback as a group (though individual grades can be overridden). See the guide to Group Assignments for more details.

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Edit an assignment

To edit a Blackboard assignment simply navigate to you assignment and hover over it until you can see the grey action button. Click the grey button to reveal the dropdown menu and select Edit. This will take you back to the assignment set up page where you can edit all elements of the assignment.

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Delete an assignment

If you have created an assignment by mistake and want to delete it then simply navigate to you assignment and hover over it until you can see the grey action button. Click the grey button to reveal the dropdown menu and select Delete.

Please note: You should not delete summative assignments that students have submitted to/completed. If you no longer want the assignment to be visible to students then simply make it unavailable to students by editing the availability (see: Editing an assignment).

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Online grading and feedback

Hide grades
Before you begin marking please make sure that grades are hidden from students in the Grade Centre to ensure that individual students do no receive marks before you are ready to release them.

View online submissions

Step 1
In the Course Management toolbar click the Grade Centre heading to expand it and then click Full Grade Centre.

Step 2
You will now see a view of the Grade Centre. Each row is one student and there will be columns for each assignment in your module. Assignments that have a submission but have not been graded will have a yellow exclamation symbol and any student with no submission will have dashes (- -).

Step 3
To view submissions for online annotation, feedback and grading, click the options circle to reveal the menu for the assignment you wish to mark. Click Grade Attempts or Grade Attempts with usernames hidden (for semi-blind marking).

Step 4
This will take you to the assignment viewer with the first assignment showing for grading. From here you are able to add a grade, type feedback to the learner (or upload a feedback file), and annotate the assignment document with comment boxes and highlight.

To look at a different submission you can either:

  • Click the Grade Next Item or Grade Previous Item links.

  • Or click the Jump to button and select the relevant assignment, and then the specific student you want to grade.

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Annotate submissions online

Changes to Blackboard Assessment Marking Process January 2018

Please note: Due to enforced changes from Blackboard, the following amendments are in effect.

Reasons for enforced changes to Blackboard’s native assessment tool

The annotation functionality that exists within Blackboard’s native assessments tool (note: this does not include Turnitin) was previously provided by Crocadoc, which has now been acquired by Box (more information on this can be found on the Crocadoc Website). This will result in a change in functionality, which is detailed below.

Annotating Blackboard Assignment submissions online

With the previous version of Blackboard’s own assessment tool (in use until January 2018), users could add annotations such as text, strikethrough, hightlights, freehand drawings and comment boxes.

As of January 4th 2018, you will only be able to add annotations by using the 'Point Annotation Mode’ or by highlighting the text with your mouse and then adding a comment to the highlighted area (see images below).

Using the 'Point Annotation Mode’ option

Using the Highlight Text and Add Comment option

Removal of the option to download student work with annotations

Another important change is the removal of the option to download annotated files from the Blackboard Assessment marking area. In the previous version (used until January 2018) staff and students could download a copy of the assessment with the annotations that have been added.

As of January 4th 2018, this will no longer be possible. Any work downloaded after this point will not include any of the annotations made to student’s submitted files.

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Add grades and feedback

Hide grades
Before you begin marking please make sure that grades are hidden from students in the Grade Centre to ensure that individual students do no receive marks before you are ready to release them.

Step 1
With the assignment grading area open (seeView online submissions for instructions) click the blue gradebox labelled Attempt which will appear on the right side of the screen.

Step 2
This will allow you to enter a grade (out the points possible you allocated during assignment creation) and reveal the Feedback area. You can either type feedback directly into the textbox or you may wish to upload a separate feedback file (e.g. if you have a specific feedback form). To upload a feedback file simply click the paperclip button and follow the instructions for attaching a file.

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Offline grading and feedback

If you do not wish to use the online grading tools then there are several options for grading offline. You can:

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Download submissions

Step 1
Navigate to the Grade Centre (see: View online submissions).

Step 2
Hover over the column header for the assignment you want to download until you see the grey action button. Click the action button to reveal the menu and select Assignment File Download.

Step 3
You will then see a list of all student submissions. Check the box next to each submission you want to download (there will not be a box for students who have not submitted). And then click Submit.

Step 4
You should then see a page with a note that “Assignments have been packaged. Download assignments now.” Click the link to download a zip file of the assignment submissions.

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Marking offline

Blackboard allows you to download parts of, or the whole of the Grade Centre, which can then be opened and worked on in a spreadsheet application such as Excel and re-uploaded.

Step 1
Navigate to the Grade Centre but instead of going to Assignments go to Full Grade Centre.

Step 2
On the Grade Centre page click the Work Offline button and select Download.

Step 3
You will then need to select the data that you want to download. For marking an assignment the simplest method is to select Single column and then use the dropdown to choose the correct assignment. Make sure to tick the checkbox for include comments for this column.

The other options specify the file type and destination. If you are using Microsoft Excel or similar then you can leave these set as they are and click Submit.

Step 4
You will then see a confirmation page. Click the download button to begin downloading the file.

Step 5
You can now open the file to begin working on it. DO NOT change the file name or you will not be able to re-upload it to update the Grade Centre.

There are three key fields you may want to edit:

  • Assignment column: This will read 'Needs Grading’ – change to student’s score.
  • Grading Notes: Grade Centre column comments visible only to the Instructor.
  • Feedback to User: Grade Centre column comments visible to Students in My Grades.

In addition you can change the format of the Notes and feedback columns to:

  • SMART_TEXT: Automatically recognizes links, accepts HTML tags, and recognizes the ENTER key as a paragraph tag.
  • Plain Text: Displays text as it is written in the text area. Plain text does not render HTML code. HTML code will appear as text.
  • HTML: Displays text as coded by the user using Hypertext Mark-up Language (HTML) tags.

Links within comments to rich media, such as images or sound files, should only be inserted and edited online.

When you have finished editing the grades and feedback or need to take a break simply save the file (DO NOT change the file name) and return to it when you are ready.

Step 6
Once you have completed grading offline, return to the Full Grade Centre (see Step 1). On the Grade Centre page click the Work Offline button and select Upload.

Step 7
Select the grade file from your computer and click Submit.

Step 8
You should now see the Grade Centre updated with the grades you uploaded. Feedback to students and Instructor Notes will only be visible if you examine Grade Details for individual student submissions.

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Anonymous Marking

Blackboard offers some options for blind/anonymous marking that you may wish to use. Please be aware that because of the way the online submission tools like Blackboard Assignments and Turnitin work, there cannot be true anonymous marking, and that the Assessment Policy does not require it. See Assignment Submission – Required Process

Please note: We recommend that anonymous grading is only used for assignments that only allow students a single submission attempt.

This is because multiple attempts may cause confusion: when marking anonymously staff are not presented with all the attempts made by a single student (e.g. if a student submitted three attempts, her submissions will be presented in random order and will not be linked).

Students will need to ensure that they do not include their name on any files submitted to anonymously marked assignments and instead use their student number. They are alerted to the anonymous grading setting on the Upload Assignment page but should also be told by lecturers.

During assignment setup

When creating the assignment you can specify anonymous grading in the Grading Options section. You can only turn this on before submissions have started to come in. But if you haven’t done this and still need to be able to grade anonymously see the next option: during grading. Also see Create a new assignment for more instructions on creating assignments.

During grading
Even if you did not set up the assignment to be anonymous you can still grade without seeing student names.

When viewing the Grade Centre simply select Grade with usernames hidden instead of Grade Attempts from the action menu.

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Turn off anonymous marking

At any time when you are using anonymous marking you can choose to turn on usernames. When viewing an assignment simply click the Show User Names button.

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Delegated/Second marking

In the case of second marking it can be useful to switch on delegated marking. This can be switched on under Grading options when creating an assignment.

If you switch this option on you will need to ensure that you set up what access possible graders have to the submissions.

After grading has taken place, you will also need to ultimately reconcile the final grade for each student. The reconcilation option can be found by selecting the drop down arrow to the right of the assignment title in the Grade Centre.

For more information on delegated marking please see Blackboard Help – Delegated Grading

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Rubrics/Marking grids

Rubrics, or marking grids, can be added to your Blackboard assignments to aid with marking and feedback.


Create a rubric

Step 1
On the Control Panel, expand the Course Tools section and click Rubrics.

Step 2
You will then see the Rubrics pages. If you have already created and rubrics then you will see them listed here. To begin setting up a new rubric click Create Rubric.

Step 3
You will now see the rubric creation page. Begin by giving your rubric a name and a description (with any information you need e.g. which assignments it’s for, how use it, etc).

Step 4
Underneath the name and title area you will see the rubric grid. This is where you can start adding information and customising it to suit your assignment. Edit the grid (see options below) and when you are done, click Submit.

You can also watch a video version of how to create a rubric for Blackboard assignments.

Can’t see the video? Watch it on YouTube:

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Edit a rubric

On the rubrics home click the grey action button next to the rubric you want to edit to reveal the menu. Select Edit.

Please note: You cannot edit a rubric that has already been used for grading. If you want to create a copy or similar rubric see: Copy a rubric

Rubric type
The different rubric types are related to how you use them for grading.

  • No points – feedback only (grades can still be added as usual, they are just not specified on the rubric).
  • Points – each level of each category is assigned a particular point value.
  • Points range – each level of each category is assigned a points range.
  • Percent – each level of each category is assigned a particular percentage value
  • Percent range – each level of each category is assigned a percentage range.

Add a row or colum
Click the Add Column or Add Row button to add additional cells at the end of a row or column.

Edit row/column headers
Click the grey action button next to the column/row header and then select Edit from the dropdown menu. Adjust the name and then click Save.

Delete row/column
Click the grey action button next to the column/row header and then select Delete from the dropdown menu.

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Delete a rubric

On the rubrics home click the grey action button next to the rubric you want to delete to reveal the menu. Select Delete.

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Copy a rubric within the same module

Copying a rubric is helpful if you have similar assignments for your students that will follow the same criteria or if a rubric will only be slightly different. This allows you to keep the settings, and you can rename the rubric and do minor edit. You can also copy a rubric when you want to edit a rubric that was already used for grading.

Step 1
On the rubrics home click the grey action button next to the rubric you want to copy to reveal the menu. Select Copy.

This will create a new rubric called Copy of Rubric Name which you can now edit and associate with different assignments.

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Import/export a rubric to a different module

Navigate to the rubrics home page, select the check box next to the rubric you want to export, and click the Export button. You can choose to save the exported rubric to your computer or to the Content Collection.

Navigate to the rubrics home page and click the Import Rubric button. Select the rubric .zip file from your files or from the Content Collection. Once imported you will be able to edit and associate the rubric as needed.

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Associate a rubric with an assignment

Once your rubric has been created it can be associated with a variety of assignments including:

Step 1
You can associate a rubric during the creation or editing of a blackboard assignment.

Step 2
In Section 4: Grading of your assignment setup, click the Add Rubric button.

  • Select Rubric associates a rubric that you created in the Rubrics area of Course Tools.
  • Create New Rubric opens a pop-up window to allow immediate creation of a new associated rubric.
  • Create From Existing uses a previously created rubric as a template to create a new associated rubric.

When associating a points-based rubric, the option to use the rubric’s points value as the Points Possible are available after clicking Submit on the rubric creation or selection page.

Step 3
Once your rubric has been associated you can adjust some options:

  1. Remove Rubric Association severs the connection to a rubric, but does not delete the rubric itself. If you already used the rubric for grading in this assignment, removing the association also removes those evaluations and the attempts need to be regraded.
  2. View Rubric opens a preview that you cannot edit, with a link to view associated items and print the rubric.
  3. Edit Rubric opens the associated rubric to allow for immediate editing. If you already used the rubric for grading, you cannot edit it.
  4. Type – you can designate a rubric as Used for Grading or Used for Secondary Evaluation. If you associate multiple rubrics, you can use only one as the primary grading rubric, designated as Used for Grading.

Show Rubric to Students offers four options for rubric visibility:

  • No – does not allow students to view the rubric at any time.
  • Yes (With Rubric Scores) – allows students to view the rubric when you make the item available, including possible point or percentage values.
  • Yes (Without Rubric Scores) – allows students to view the rubric when you make the item available, but does not include the possible point or percentage values.
  • After Grading – allows students to view the rubric only after you have completed grading their submissions.

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Grades and feedback using rubrics

Step 1
When you are viewing an assignment that needs grading (see: Grading an assignment) and clicked into the blue grade box to begin entering information you will see information about your rubric. Click the Rubric name to expand it.

Step 2
You can then choose to show or hide the descriptions of each level of achievement, and whether to provide additional feedback per category of achievement.

  • Video version: How to Grade using a Rubric*

Can’t see the video? Watch it on YouTube:

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How students submit

Can’t see the video? Watch it on YouTube:

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