Setting up your grading breakdown in the Grade Center (6m41s)

Setting up the Grade Center (Part1-Step4) audio

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Blackboard Workflow Step1-Part4
Setting up your grading breakdown in the Grade Center

The section of your syllabus that students are most interested in seeing is the grading breakdown. We recommend that you set it up in the Blackboard Grade Center before the semester starts, that is… right now!

So, set aside a maximum of 10 minutes of your time, take a note pad, have your syllabus ready, fire up your Blackboard, and open your course. Pause the video/audio and take your time to act on the instructions.  Ready?  Here we go.

 Simplifying the default grading center setup

  • You’ll find the Grade Center in the course management, “kitchen” section, of your course. First let’s tidy up the default setup of this Grade Center. Go to the full Grade Center: below the Grade Center heading we have the action bar with the columns underneath it: Last Name, First Name, Username, Student ID, Last Access, Availability, Total…etc.

  • Here is how you can simplify this look, how you can hide not so useful columns from view and how you can make some columns unavailable to students. At the end you’ll see how you can undo mistakes.

  • Which columns are useful, which ones not?  The username is not very useful, so we recommend you hide it. Click on the action button on the right of the username and choose hide from instructor view. What about the last access column? It may not seem useful at first, but as the semester evolves the last time students accessed the course site can be an indicator of their engagement. We recommend you keep it.

  • Now look at the total column. It represents the total number of points a student earned but it does not include any weighing. We say that as such it is not very useful to students (or to you) and we recommend that you make it unavailable to students and then hide from instructor view.

  • How do you do this? Click on the action button, edit column information, then, leaving all as is, scroll down to Options and indicate not to show this column to students. After clicking submit, return to the action button and choose hide from instructor view. 

  • Before we move to step 2, here is what to do when you made a mistake and hid a column you want to be visible. Go to manage in the action bar—remember you might have to scroll up to see the action bar--and select column organization from the drop down menu. Select the columns to show and click the Show/Hide button. Note that you can also move your columns around and re-order them with the drag symbol. We’ll have some fun with that in step3. First, let’s move on and take step2.

    Creating your top level grading categories and setting up your grading breakdown
  • Take your syllabus and take a look at the grading breakdown. By way of example here is the grading breakdown of my French Culture syllabus. It has 4 top level grading categories: Quizzes, Participation, 3 Papers, Final Exam. They are weighted that is and each weighs or counts for a certain percentage in the total grade. So Quizzes count for 20%, Participation counts for 30%, 3 papers count for 30% and the Final Exam counts for 20%.

  • Here are the two mini-steps to take to set up the Blackboard Grade Center to reflect your syllabus grading breakdown.

    • Mini-step one: Create weighted columns.
      In the full Grade Center view, go to the create calculated column and Choose the weighted column option. For now, ignore all options and only give a name to the column. To clearly mark the column as a weighted column, we recommend that you let the name of each calculated weighted column start with the percentage sign (%). It may feel and look quirky but you won’t regret it when working in the grade center later on. Again, ignore all other options, go straight to the bottom and click on submit, then click OK in the pop up window. You will need to do this for each of the top level categories in your grading breakdown. Click on pause and Do so now.

    • Mini step2: Back in the full Grade Center, go to Blackboard’ default weighted TOTAL column. Here is where you and your students can see how great they are doing at any point in the semester. Blackboard’s weighted total column, in other words, is where Blackboard puts the results of its calculating the weight of grades earned for an individual learning activity in the total grading breakdown.  Naturally, you will need to set up the calculation behind this column so it reflects your own grading breakdown. To do so, click on the action button and choose edit column information. Scroll down to the Select Columns section and in the first box (the one on the left of the page) select, one by one, the weighted columns you created—the ones with the percentage sign-- and use the arrow to move them to the total weight box on the right.

  • This is where you will input the percentages as per your syllabus grading breakdown.  When done, click once outside the percentage box to see the final total weight percentage. It should be 100%, of course.

  • What you see in the Weighted column box should look exactly the same as the grading breakdown in your syllabus! To finish, for now, leave the default options selected and move straight to the submit button. Done!

    Re-ordering your "Grade Center"
  • Let’s go back to the full grade center. Note that you may not see all the columns you created, depending on how many there are, on the width of your screen etc. Luckily, in case there are more columns then you can see, there is a scrolling bar underneath the columns. Scroll and you shall see! Mac users: if you do not see the scroll bar, do not panic: Just start a google search for “enable scrolling on Mac” and you’ll find adequate instructions.  

  • Notice also, that your newly created columns appear to the right of the Blackboard's weighted total column and at the right of the last column you created. That's not exactly where you may want to see them. So, before we reach the finish line on this set-up, let's see how we can re-order columns in the Grade Center. It’s as simple as using the re-order button on the right of the action bar.  Alternately, click on the manage menu, selecting column organization and playing around with the drag and drop action button. To your hearts’ content. Oh, and Remember to click submit before Going back to the full grade center, and admire your work.