Blackboard Grade Centre

Please 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. This is particularly pertinent in your use of the grade centre so that you understand your faculty processes for ensuring Quercus is also up to date.

Grade Centre is an important feature in your Blackboard modules. It’s where all the grade information for all assessments will be shown, and it has lots of features to help you make the best use of the available data.

Contents

    Accessing Grade Centre

    You will find a link to the Grade Centre in the Course Management sidebar. Click the header to expand the section and select Full Grade Centre.


    Please note: the menu items Assignments and Tests are the default Smart Views (quick links that allow you to see specific parts of the Grade Centre). Read the Smart views section for more information.

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    Grade Centre Overview

    The Grade Centre resembles a spreadsheet. Each row is populated by a user in your course and each column includes information for an item, such as an assignment, test, graded blog entry, or survey. The most commonly used assessment types (Turnitin, Blackboard Assessments, Tests) will automatically be given a column in the grade centre and grades will populate here as the assignment is graded. You can also add extra columns for offline assessments.

    There are several buttons across the top that we will cover in more detail later but in brief this are:

    • Create column – to grade an assignment or activity that happens outside blackboard e.g. performance.
    • Create calculated column – to create an average, mix/max grade, weighted or total grade column.
    • Manage – includes several options such as reorganising the grade centre, creating categories, smart views, and marking schemas.
    • Reports – create custom grade reports for module/students and access grade histories.
    • Filter – change what’s in the current view.
    • Work Offline – download gradebook for working offline or re-upload a graded set.

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    Grade Centre icons

    You will come across a number of icons when using the Grade Centre. There is a legend provided in the Grade Centre to give you an overview of what they mean. You can view this legend by clicking the Icon Legend button at the bottom right of the grade book.


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    Hide columns

    One of the first things you may want to do is hide any unnecessary columns. Please note: Hiding a column does NOT hide the grades from students, this is changing your view only. To keep assessment grades hidden from students until you’ve finished marking a particular assignment see Hide grades from students.

    To hide the column, click the dropdown button next to the column name to reveal the menu.

    Select Hide Column.

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    Unhide columns

    To unhide columns you will need to click the Manage button and select Column Organisation.

    You will then see a grid of all available columns. Check the box next to the one(s) you wish to unhide and then click the Show/Hide button and select Show selected column(s).

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    Hide grades from students

    You may wish to keep grades hidden until an agreed post-date to allow for second marking and to give all students their grades on the same day.
    Click the round button in the column header for that assignment.

    Click Show/Hide to Users from the menu.

    The column header will now show a crossed grey dot to indicate that it is not visible to students.

    To reveal the column to students on the post-date simply repeat the process and check that the crossed dot is no longer in the column header.


    Entering grades

    You can enter grades in the Grade Centre in the following ways:

    • Marks are entered automatically into the Grade Centre for items you create such as online assessments, tests, and surveys.
    • Upload grades from an external source, such as a comma separated values (CSV) file or an Excel spreadsheet, eliminating the need for double entry.
    • Manually enter grades into the Grade Centre by clicking individual cells.


    Manually enter grades

    You can assign grades in any cell in the Grade Centre. This is useful if you have an assessment that takes place outside Blackboard (e.g. a performance, practical task, etc) but still want to provide an online grade to give students a full overview of their marks in a module.

    • Click within the cell you want to type a grade in.
    • Type the value.
    • Press the Enter key.
    • Click OK to save the grade.

    Using the manual grading method you can also add a small amount of feedback (limited to 1000 characters).

    Hover over the grade to which you wish to add feedback until the dropdown button is visible.

    Click the button and select Quick Comment.


    You will then be able to enter either Feedback to User or Grading Notes. Feedback to User is for students to see, Grading notes are visible to staff only. When you have entered your comments, click Submit to save the comment.

    If you want to work in a larger text-box than the quick comments then simply click the Text Editor button and you will be able to enter the feedback using the full text-editor tool.

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    Offline grading

    To download your whole gradebook, or a single column for one assignment, click the Work Offline button and select Download.

    You will then see the options for downloading.

    • Select whether you want to download either the full Grade Centre or just one specific column (i.e. one assignment).
    • If you choose just one column you can also select to download the comments for the column. Including the comments area means you can add/edit user feedback comments and lecturer-only grade comments.
    • Choose the type of file you want to download. The default settings will allow you to open the file using Microsoft Excel.
    • Click the Submit button.

    You should then see a confirmation page with a button to allow you to download the grade centre areas you have selected.

    After the file is downloaded and opened in the appropriate editing software, you can make changes. If you download the full Grade Centre, you can change and add grades, and save the file for uploading. If you downloaded a single column, you can add or change grades and comments, and save the file for uploading.

    To upload the file back to the Grade Centre click the Work Offline button and select Upload.

    You will then see the options for uploading.

    • Browse your computer for the file to be uploaded. See Blackboard’s own help pages for full information about making sure your files are suitably formatted for upload.
    • Specify the delimiter type (most users can leave this on auto).
    • Click the Submit button

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    Calculated columns

    You can create columns in the Grade Centre that will show a grade or percentage based upon a calculation from other grades. You can select which columns and categories are included in a column’s calculation and you you can include other calculated columns within a calculation. Calculated column types include:


    Total and Weighted Total

    The Weighted Total and Total columns will appear by default as the first two columns after student information in the Grade Centre. These columns can be useful or simply get in the way depending on how they are used and understood.

    The Total column simply shows the sum of all the marks a student has received from any assessments listed in the Grade Centre. These may be Blackboard or Turnitin Assignments, tests, or other elements that have been assigned a grade (e.g. forums, blogs, etc). It will not include total from any other calculated columns.

    A default weighted total column appears in new courses. You can rename it, change the settings, change which columns and categories are included, or delete this default column. The default weighted total column displays no results until you select the columns and categories to include in the calculation.

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    Other total columns


    When creating a total column, you can include the following items:

    • All grade columns: Include all individual grade columns in the Grade Centre.
    • All grade columns in a grading period: If grading periods exist, include only the grade columns associated with a grading period.
    • Selected columns and categories: Include specific grade columns and categories (and the associated columns)

    For example, you might want to provide students with different columns for formative and summative assignments. When you create a total column, you select the specific columns that relate to the category.

    Step 1
    In the Grade Centre click the Create Calculated Column on the action bar and select Total Column.

    Step 2
    On the Create Total Column page, type a Column Name and , optionally, a description. This name becomes the column name in the Grade Centre and on students’ My Grades pages. If this name is too long to display clearly in the Grade Centre, you can type a short, descriptive name in the Grade Centre Name box. Only the first 14-15 characters typed in either name box appear in the column heading in the Grade Centre grid.

    Step 3
    From the Primary Display drop-down list you should select either Score or Percentage.
    You may optionally, make a selection in the Secondary Display drop-down list.

    Step 4
    In the Select Columns section, select what to include in the total column’s calculation. Please note: If a column is deleted from the Grade Centre that is included in a total calculation, it is also removed from the calculation.

    Step 5
    You must then decided whether to use Calculate as Running Total. Running totals exempt cells that do not contain data. Click No to include all selected columns in the calculation, using a value of 0 if no grade exists. This can make grades appear artificially low.

    Step 6
    Select from the Options:

    • Include this Column in Grade Centre Calculations: Click Yes to make the column available for potential inclusion when creating calculated columns.
    • Show this Column to Students: Click Yes to display the column to students in My Grades.
    • Show Statistics (average and median) for this Column to Students in My Grades: Click Yes to include statistical information with the grade value when shown to students.

    Step 7
    Click Submit.

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    Weighted columns

    The weighted column is a type of calculated column that generates a grade based on the result of selected columns and categories, and their respective percentages. When creating a weighted column, you can include other calculated columns or other weighted columns. When you create a weighted column, you can include the following items:

    • All grade columns: Include all individual grade columns in the Grade Centre.
    • Selected columns and categories: Include specific grade columns and categories (and the associated columns).
    • Selected columns from a grading period: If grading periods exist and you have chosen a category, include only the grade columns that have been associated with a specific grading period

    Step 1
    In the Grade Centre, click Create Calculated Column on the action bar and select Weighted Column.

    Step 2
    On the Create Weighted Column page, give your column a name and, optionally, a description. This name becomes the column name in the Grade Centre and on students’ My Grades pages. If this name is too long to display clearly in the Grade Centre, you can type a short, descriptive name in the Grade Centre Name box

    Step 3
    From the Primary Display drop-down list you should select either Score or Percentage.
    You may optionally, make a selection in the Secondary Display drop-down list.

    Step 4
    In the Select Columns section, select what to include in the total column’s calculation and then apply the relevant weight percentage for each item. The percentages of all columns added together must equal 100 percent. Please note: If a column is deleted from the Grade Centre that is included in a total calculation, it is also removed from the calculation.

    Step 5
    You must then decided whether to use Calculate as Running Total. Running totals exempt cells that do not contain data. Click No to include all selected columns in the calculation, using a value of 0 if no grade exists. This can make grades appear artificially low.

    Step 6
    Select from the Options:

    • Include this Column in Grade Centre Calculations: Click Yes to make the column available for potential inclusion when creating calculated columns.
    • Show this Column to Students: Click Yes to display the column to students in My Grades.
    • Show Statistics (average and median) for this Column to Students in My Grades: Click Yes to include statistical information with the grade value when shown to students.

    Step 7
    Click Submit.

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    Average columns

    The average column is a type of calculated column that displays the average for a selected number of columns. For example, you can display the average for all tests or display the average grade for each student for a Grading Period.

    Simple Average Formula
    To find the average of all selected columns, the percentage is calculated to four decimal places. The percentage values for all selected columns are added together. The result is divided by the number of columns included in the calculation. The results display according to the Primary and Secondary Display options. You can select which columns and categories are used in the calculation for an average column. For example, you can display the average for all assignments. You can change your selections at any time and the calculation updates automatically.

    When you create an average column, you can include the following items:

    • All Grade Columns: Include all individual grade columns in the Grade Centre.
    • All Grade Columns in Grading Period: If grading periods exist, include only the grade columns associated with a grading period.
    • Selected Columns and Categories: Include specific grade columns and categories (and the associated columns).

    Please note: Columns with text as the grade display are not included in an average column’s calculation. For example, if you set a grade column to display text, such as Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory, you cannot use it in calculations.

    (Column 1%) + (Column 2%) + (Column 3%) + (Column 4%) = % earned divided by 4 columns = Average percentage score

    Step 1
    In the Grade Centre, point to Create Calculated Column on the action bar and click Average Column.

    Step 2
    On the Create Average Column page give your column a name and, optionally, a description. If this name is too long to display clearly in the Grade Centre, you can type a short, descriptive name in the Grade Centre Name box.

    Step 3
    Select your primary and secondary display options. These are most usually percentage or score.

    Step 4
    In the Select Columns section, select what to include in the average column’s calculation.

    Step 5
    Select whether to use Calculate as Running Total. Running totals exempt cells that do not contain data. Click No to include all selected columns in the calculation, using a value of 0 if no grade exists. This can make grades appear artificially low.

    Step 6
    Select from the options:

    • Include this Column in Grade Centre Calculations: Click Yes to make the column available for potential inclusion when creating calculated columns.
    • Show this Column to Students: Click Yes to display the column to students on their My Grades pages.
    • Show Statistics (average and median) for this Column to Students in My Grades:* Click Yes to include statistical information with the grade value when shown to students.

    Step 7
    Click Submit to save your column options.

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    Minimum/Maximum columns

    The minimum/maximum column is a type of calculated column that displays either the minimum or maximum grade for a selection of columns. For example, you can find the minimum score on all tests, but only show it in the Grade Centre grid and not to your students on their My Grades pages. You can select which columns and categories are used for displaying a minimum or maximum value. For example, you can display the minimum score for a grading period to help you determine what content your students may be struggling with. You can change your selections at any time and the calculation updates automatically.

    When you create a minimum/maximum column, you can include the following items:

    • All Grade Columns: Include all individual grade columns in the Grade Centre.
    • All Grade Columns in Grading Period: If grading periods exist, include only the grade columns associated with a grading period.
    • Selected Columns and Categories: Include specific grade columns and categories (and the associated columns).

    Please note: Columns with text as the grade display are not included in a minimum/maximum column’s calculation. For example, if you set a grade column to display text, such as Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory, you cannot use it in calculations.

    • Minimum: The percentage value for each column included in the calculation is compared up to four decimal places and the lowest value is displayed. The result displays up to two decimal places.
    • Maximum: The percentage value for each column included in the calculation is compared up to four decimal places and the highest value is displayed. The result displays up to two decimal places.

    Step 1
    In the Grade Centre, point to Create Calculated Column on the action bar and click Minimum/Maximum Column.

    Step 2
    On the Create Average Column page give your column a name and, optionally, a description. If this name is too long to display clearly in the Grade Centre, you can type a short, descriptive name in the Grade Centre Name box.

    Step 3
    Select your primary and secondary display options. These are most usually percentage or score.

    Step 4
    In the Select Columns section, first select whether you want to calculate the minimum or maximum.

    Step 5
    Next select what to include in the average column’s calculation.

    Step 6
    Select whether to use Calculate as Running Total. Running totals exempt cells that do not contain data. Click No to include all selected columns in the calculation, using a value of 0 if no grade exists. This can make grades appear artificially low.

    Step 7
    Select from the options:

    • Include this Column in Grade Centre Calculations: Click Yes to make the column available for potential inclusion when creating calculated columns.
    • Show this Column to Students: Click Yes to display the column to students on their My Grades pages.
    • Show Statistics (average and median) for this Column to Students in My Grades:* Click Yes to include statistical information with the grade value when shown to students.

    Step 8
    Click Submit to save your column options.

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    Smart Views

    As you provide and view grades, you are obtaining information about how students are performing in your course. You can tailor your view of student progress by creating smart views. A smart view is a focused look at the Grade Centre. It shows only the columns that match a set of criteria, and the view is saved for continued use. When the Grade Centre includes a great number of students and columns, you can use smart views to quickly find data.

    Several smart views are available by default, but you can also create your own. You can easily move between the Full Grade Centre view and any of the available smart views. You can set a smart view as the default view of the Grade Centre and change it at any time.

    Favourite Smart Views

    In the Grade Centre section of the Control Panel, favourite smart views appear in alphabetical order as an indented list. Assignments and Tests smart views appear in the list by default. When you click the Assignments link, the Grade Centre page opens and only assignment columns appear in the grid. When you click the Full Grade Centre link, all the columns appear in the grid. You can choose any view to be the default view when you click the right-pointing arrow next to the Grade Centre title in the Control Panel.

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    Manage Smart Views

    Several default Smart Views are available in all modules. These can be added to your favourites list to appear in the Course Management Menu like the Assignments and Tests views are.

    Step 1
    In the Grade Centre, point to Manage on the action bar and click Smart Views.

    Step 2
    On the Smart Views page, the list of smart views appears. In the Type column, all default smart views are designated as System. When you create your own smart views, Custom appears in the Type column. Click the star in the the favourite column to have it appear in the Course Management menu (or click again to remove it).

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    Create Smart Views

    Step 1
    In the Grade Centre, point to Manage on the action bar and click Smart Views.

    Step 2
    On the Smart Views page, click Create Smart View on the action bar.

    Step 3
    On the Create Smart Views page, type a name and, optionally, a description. You can select the Add as Favourite check box if you want to make the smart view a favourite (and thus appear in the Course Management menu).

    Step 4
    Select the type of view – the view type will define the criteria you are able to use. You can create five types of smart views in the Grade Centre:

    • Course Group: Subsections of students. You must create course groups before you can use them as selection criteria.
    • Performance: Student performance on a single item, such as a test.
    • User: Individual students.
    • Category and Status: Based on a category, user or users, and grade status. For example, you can select the Blog category, one or more users or groups, and a status, such as Completed.
    • Custom: A query for selecting students using a combination of attributes.

    Step 5
    In the Select Criteria section, set the requirements. Your options here are limited by the view you chose. Custom views allow the greatest flexibility and the creation of multiple criteria.

    Step 6
    In the Filter Results drop-down list, select which columns, categories, statuses, or grading periods you want to appear in the Grade Centre grid when you access the smart view. For example, when tracking a specific group, you can narrow your view of columns appearing in the Grade Centre by filtering the results by a category, such as Tests, or view only specific group assignment columns.

    Step 7
    Click Submit to save your new Smart View.

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    Downloading grades

    It is possible to download any or all of the columns of the gradecentre into an Excel file.

    You will find this option by accessing Control Panel > Grade Centre > Full Grade Centre > Work Offline > Download

    You can then select a particular column or the full grade centre to download. Please note that choosing a tab delimited format will ensure that the file is immediately available in Excel with the appropriate extension in the file name (.xls).

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    More Grade Centre guides

    See Blackboard’s Grade Centre help for more information about using the Grade Centre.

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