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Grading in Blackboard: Calculated Columns

Creating and Editing Calculated Columns

Calculated Columns can summarize other columns or groups of columns (categories). Each Blackboard course starts with a Grade Center Column called "Weighted Total," which is a calculated column of the "Weighted" type. This column can often be customized to calculate the final grade for the course.

To edit the Weighted Total column, or any other Calculated Column, go to the Full Grade Center inside the course, and locate the column by name. Click on the chevron (down arrow in a circle) to the right of the column name, then click on Edit Column Information. 

 

Near the bottom of the screen that appears, you'll be able to see and change how the value in that column is calculated:

Screen shot of configuration of weighted column

Selecting Inputs

On the left half of the screen are boxes listing all the individual columns and the names of all the categories (groups of columns) defined in the Grade Center of the course. You can click on any of those and then on the right-arrow icon to move them into the box on the right half of the screen, which lists the columns and categories from which the value of the Weighted Total column will be calculated.

Weighting

For each column or category you can specify the percentage (or weight) given to the column or category in calculating the final value. Here, the "Final" category has been weighted at 40% and the "Quizzes" category has been weighted at 30%. Since the total has to add up to 100%, there must be one or more additional columns or categories included in the calculation, and the vertical scroll bar along the right-hand border of the box can be used to view or change those. 

Processing Categories

For a category (a group of two or more columns) you can specify:

  • Whether each column within the category is weighted equally or proportionally. This is usually set to "Equally." If set to "Proportionally," columns that are worth more points are weighted more heavily than those that are worth fewer points.
  • Drop a certain number of the lowest or highest score within the category, or base the grade only on the highest or lowest score within the category. 

Running Totals

By default, Calculated Columns operate as Running Totals (set at the bottom of the screen). Running Totals ignore columns that contain no grades, which are usually tests or assignments that aren't due yet. Arithmetic is adjusted automatically, as needed, to maintain the specified proportions among the included elements. Running Total columns are useful for showing students where they stand throughout the semester. If you set Running Total to "No," items that haven't been graded yet will be treated as having a grade of zero. 

NOTE: Using running totals usually implies that the instructor will enter a grade of zero (or whatever is specified in the syllabus) after a deadline has passed and a student has not submitted the appropriate assignment. Failing to enter the zero for missing work will inflate the running total, giving the student an inaccurate measure of success in the course. 

Adding Calculated Columns

You can add additional Calculated Columns by clicking on Create Calculated Column in the Full Grade Center. You can choose to create a Calculated Column that averages the values of selected columns, chooses a minimum or maximum from selected columns, totals the values of other columns, or weights the values of other columns as shown above. The options for these are the same as shown above for the Weighted Total column. The exception is Minimum/Maximum columns, which have fewer options.

Screen shot: Option to Create a Calculated Column in Grade Center