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Online Assessment with the Blackboard Grade Center

An overview of basic and advanced features in the Blackboard Grade Center.

Getting Started with the Blackboard Grade Center

The Blackboard Grade Center is designed to help instructors maintain a detailed and organized record of students' performance in course activities and assessments. It is essentially a Web-based spreadsheet application customized for instructional use. Still, the main advantages to using the Grade Center have to do with facilitating assessment and the ability to share information with students.

Before You Start Teaching a Course in Blackboard

If you know ahead of time that you will be teaching extensively in Blackboard, you should plan for how you will use the Grade Center, but you don’t necessarily have to set it all up at the onset. Consider the following:

  • As you build your course, any graded activities you create (e.g., tests, assignments, graded discussions, etc.) will receive a Grade Center column automatically.
  • The Grade Center also lets you add columns as needed so you can record grades for student work done outside of Blackboard.
  • How you configure the Grade Center’s display and sharing settings (e.g., column order, student access to grades, etc.) will be based on how you will be using it. This should be one of the last steps in the process of building your course and planning your assessments.
  • As a rule of thumb, you should not make unnecessary changes to the Grade Center’s content or settings during the course of the semester. Unless they are unavoidable, leave any adjustments for the end of the semester.

After You Have Started Teaching a Course Outside of Blackboard

It’s possible to start teaching a regular classroom course in the usual way and then decide to use Blackboard or the Grade Center later in the semester.  Even if you record grades outside of Blackboard for an entire semester, the Grade Center can save you time and minimize errors when you calculate final grades.  It also lets you give students feedback on course activities from a single location. However, there are some caveats:

  • The first thing to consider would be how you will integrate data from work students did outside of Blackboard with data that will be collected in the Grade Center.  Remember that you can create Grade Center columns and enter the data manually.
  • Better yet, if you are comfortable using a spreadsheet application like Microsoft Office Excel, you can download the Grade Center as a file you can edit on your computer, enter data from an existing spreadsheet, and then import it back into Blackboard.
  • On the other hand, if you just want to back up grades electronically or if you will only share them with students on a case-by-case basis, there may be better alternatives for you. Contact the CTL for more information or to set up an appointment.

Grade Center Overviews

Help for Students: Grade Center