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Tutorial & FAQs: Gradebook

Gradebook Features: Blackboard will automatically grade and record the score for any assessment or assignment created in the Blackboard format. Additional columns can be added to the online gradebook for assignments graded outside the Blackboard system. We advise faculty to periodically back up their gradebook data by exporting their gradebook spreadsheet to an external program.

new featuresNew Features: Our current version of Blackboard also allows for uploading spreadsheet files into the online gradebook. Grades can now be displayed as number, letter or percentage grades. Faculty can sort, categorize and filter users and assignments by a variety of options. While the weighting system has been revised from the 5.5 version, the same problems are inherent in the way the system calculates weighted grades. Please read the documentation by NIU Testing Services about the problems with weighting in the Blackboard gradebook.

Control Panel > Assessment > Gradebook

gradebook menu items

I. Editing grades listed in the Gradebook

Important: Do not correct or edit grades directly from the spreadsheet. Click on underlined item name, student name or grade listed to modify information. The instructor can then edit the grade information from a text box that will update the spreadsheet after the change is submitted.

Enter gradebook and click on underlined item title, such as gradebook item title

  • Select Item Grade List from the list of options
    item options
    • This brings up a list where students' grades can be entered.
    • Submit entries after updating.
  • Item Information provides information about the assignment, including point value, how the grade will be displayed, and whether the professor wants students to view this grade. The instructor can also opt not to include this assignment in the grade total for the course.
    • The grade can be displayed in a number of ways, including letter, percentage or score (points). If the letter grade is selected, the instructor can opt to apply a preset points system listed in the provided pull-down menu (in example below: Standard Grade Values created under Gradebook Settings).

      points systems

II. Gradebook assessment symbols

When an assessment has been deployed, an instructor can track students' status regarding the test. The following chart explains the symbols displayed in the gradebook. The check markgradebook check mark indicates the student completed a survey.

gradebook key

Only two of the symbols require special action:

  • The exclamation mark ! indicates a test has been submitted and a question or questions require grading (essays must be assigned points by the instructor). To view and grade unscored questions:
    • Click on the !
    • Click View view assessment
    • Read and assign points to the essay question(s)
    • Submit updated score.
  • The question mark ? indicates that an error occurred while taking or submitting the exam. If the exam is set for one attempt, the student will be unable to retake the exam and the instructor will need to clear the student's attempt. To clear an assessment attempt:
    • Click on the ?
    • Click Viewview assessment
    • Click on Clear Attempt
    • Submit change.

III. Adding items not graded by Blackboard gradebook add item

  • click on Add Item
  • Complete all the blanks provided, including the category description.
    • If you do not wish this grade to be a part of the course total, select No for: Include item in gradebook score calculations.
  • Submit.
  • To add grades: click item title > Item Grade List > enter scores and Submit.

IV. Gradebook Settings gradebook settings link

gradebook settings

  • Manage Display Options allows the faculty member to create grade values for letter grades.
    • After choosing Manage Display Options, modify an existing grading scale or
    • Select add disply option in Gradebook and establish your own grading scale
    • Be certain to read the pointers at the top and bottom of the screen, specifically that the ranges must overlap to avoid omissions.
    • The percentage posted in this scale will be used as the points for an assignment if the instructor adds just the letter grade to the gradebook.
    • Grade scales can be created for each assignment or can be selected from the existing list under Item Information.

V. Weighting Grades weight grades link

  • Allows weighting by category or item.
  • Users are warned to use the weighting system with great caution, as there are inherent problems in the method Blackboard uses for determining grades when they are weighted. See the documentation on weighting by NIU Testing Services for details.
    • Faculty members who normally weight grades can export the spreadsheet and use Excel or preferred software to calculate weighted scores.

VI. Downloading Grades download grades

Periodically during the semester, it is prudent to download the Blackboard gradebook as a backup. The gradebook will be a CSV (comma delimited) file that can be opened in Excel or other spreadsheet programs.

  • By default, the file will be named gb_export.csv
  • After downloading file, open in preferred spreadsheet program and save in an appropriate directory, perhaps the folder holding other files for the course.
  • Once the file is in the external spreadsheet, the user can formulate and add to the data.

VII. Uploading Grades

Faculty who maintain a spreadsheet gradebook outside Blackboard can now upload their grades into the Blackboard spreadsheet. The upload feature requires that both the Excel (or preferred spreadsheet) and the Blackboard spreadsheet have the same student names listed. Errors will occur if the names are not identical.

  • To simplify the task of maintaining a spreadsheet outside Blackboard, first DOWNLOAD the Blackboard spreadsheet into Excel or preferred program. This automatically populates a spreadsheet with students' names. The download will have a CSV (comma delimited) extension but can be opened in Excel.
  • When uploading data, the user will be able to upload one column at a time. To upload a column:
    1. Open the file containing the grades you wish to upload
    2. Save the file as a CSV file. Attempting to upload an Excel file will create problems.
      • From the menu bar, select File > Save As
      • Click the down arrow after File Type and select CSV
    3. Click Upload Grades
    4. Browse for the correct file
    5. Select file and Submit
    6. Click the radio box in front of the column for upload
    7. Select the column currently in the Blackboard gradebook where the uploaded data will go.
      • If a column does not exist, select the last item, Create New Gradebook Item
      • Professor will be prompted to name a new column and assign points. Prompt will now ask user to select students whose grades should be uploaded.
    8. Select one, several or all students.
    9. System will also list scores to be loaded into the designated column in Blackboard.
    10. If an error message is displayed, use the browser's back button to get back to the gradebook


FAQs - Gradebook

How can I give my students access to view their grades?
Enable View Grades in the Control Panel: Control Panel > Course Options > Manage Course Menu > Tools > Modify > click the enable option for View Grades > Submit your changes.Tutorial

Why are my students able to view most of their grades but not their grade on one, particular assignment?
Instructors can hide or reveal grades on individual assignments through the gradebook. If one particular grade is not displayed to students, enter the gradebook and check the availability of that assignment: click on the underlined title of the item > Item Information > Make item visible to students: select Yes or No >. Be certain to Submit any changes. Tutorial

Is there a way to check statistics for individual assignments and assessments?
Blackboard records statistics for all assignments created within the system. To view the records: Control Panel > Assessment > Gradebook > click on underlined item title > Item Detail. Item-by-item statistics are available under Assessment Attempt Details.

How do I change the point values of assignments?
Occasionally, point values on assignments and assessments are altered during the course copy process. To edit the point value of an assignment, enter the gradebook and click on the underlined title of the item you wish to modify. Select Item Information and change the point value. Submit your changes. Tutorial

Why should we avoid using the weighted grade options Blackboard provides?
NIU Testing Services reports that Blackboard uses a simplistic approach to weighting grades that will result in inaccurate totals unless all items being weighted have the same point value. Their documentation explains and illustrates the problems with the weighting system. Click here to read their findings: NIU Testing Services report on weighting.

Can I assign variant values to letter grades for different assignments?
Yes. The instructor can set up several different grading scales under Gradebook Settings > Manage Display Options. She can then select the appropriate scale when defining item information for each assignment. Tutorial

Will Blackboard allow me to exclude a column from the grade total?
Yes. From the Control Panel enter the gradebook and click on the underlined title of the item to exclude. Click on Item Information and check the NO button in front of the option to Include item in gradebook score calculations. Submit.

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© 2003 Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL
last updated: August 10 2004