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Blackboard Basics Guide

Grade Center

Overview

The Grade Center is a critical component of each Blackboard course whether the course is online, on ground, or blended. The Grade Center includes a column for each graded activity in the course and the overall course grade. You can also create columns for course activities that do not require a submission in Blackboard. An example of this is a classroom presentation.  The Grade Center calculates an overall grade for the course based on your specifications. You can also use the Grade Center to monitor student progress in the course and to initiate communication.

It is important that the Blackboard Grade Center matches the syllabus posted in a course since this is what is being communicated to students regarding how grades are calculated for the course.  The overall course grade calculation needs to be set up properly from the beginning of the term as this is what students see and use to keep track of how they are doing.  

The overall course grade can be based on points or you can use categories and apply weights to them.  Here's an example of weighted grading:

  • 50%  Assignments
  • 35%  Tests
  • 10%  Discussions
  • 5%    Participation and Professionalism

With weighted grading, each course activity is put into one of the categories used for the overall grade calculation.  Blackboard automatically applies the weights that you specify in calculating the overall course grade. 

With points, Blackboard divides the points earned by the student by the maximum points that could possibly have been earned.  This is done on an ongoing basis so only points for activities with submissions are counted for the student and for the possible points total. 

So which method of calculating an overall course grade is better?  There are pros and cons to each so it really just depends on which method you prefer. 

Here are some things to think about when deciding which method to use:

Points

  • Adding graded activities or skipping graded activities can throw off the planned overall allocation of points within a course
  • Extra credit for activities or the overall course grade can be easily accounted for in Blackboard
  • Students may understand the points system more easily

Weights

  • Graded activities can be easily added or skipped without throwing off the overall balance between types of activities
  • Extra credit can easily be added to course activities in Blackboard, but not the overall course grade
  • Categories can be set up to drop the lowest grade(s) each student earns within the category
  • Students sometimes struggle with understanding how weights impact their overall course grade

Calculating course grades accurately is important so please ask if you have any questions about this.  Your chair is a good source of information regarding any guidelines or suggestions for setting up grading for a course.  For technical assistance with setting up grading in Blackboard, contact the Help Desk at HelpDesk@centralpenn.edu or 866-291-4357.  You are also welcome to stop by during CTE Office Hours (Milano 15) or set up an appointment for a consultation. 

Using the Grade Center

The CTE has a variety of resources to assist you in learning to use the Grade Center.   

 View the Grade Center Overview video.

Note that this video shows the template used previously at the college. 
See the
Blackboard Template 2020 guide to learn about the current course template. 

 

  Read the Categories and Weighted Grades in Blackboard guide sheet if you plan to use Weighted Grades.

 

  Read the Setting the Grading Schema guide sheet to learn about grading schemas.  Grade Center columns can display grades in a variety of ways.  If you choose to use letter grades, you will need to ensure that the correct Schema is being used so that percentage grades are translated to the correct letter grade. 

 

  Read Displaying Both Percentage and Letter Grades to learn how to create a Grade Center column with an alternate grade display method.  This can be used to allow students to see their overall grade for a course as both a percentage and a letter grade.  Be aware that the Secondary Display setting of a Grade Center column is not visible to students, only to you, so this option cannot be used to show students both percentage and letter grades. 

 

Additional Resources: 

Blackboard Help: Grading

Downloading a Class Roster

Downloading Grade Center Data