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Grading in Blackboard: Grading

Grading Student Submissions

Types of Grades in Blackboard Learn's Grade Center

Blackboard's Grade Center allows instructors to enter two different kinds of grades:

  1. A grade, also called a normal grade or ordinary grade
  2. An Override Grade

Because of the possibility of confusion it is important to bear in mind that a student's submission can have one, the other, or BOTH types of grade attached to it, and that an Override Grade always takes precedence over an ordinary grade. Although the instructor can review all of the grades attached to a submission, the Override Grade is the first to be displayed, is the only grade the student can see, and is the grade that is used in any Grade Center calculations. 

Ordinary Grades

Importantly, ordinary grades can NOT be entered just by clicking in a cell in the Grade Center and typing a grade value. Grades entered that way are automatically recorded as Override Grades. There are three ways to get to the screen that allows the entry of ordinary grades:

  1. Using the Needs Grading Workflow
  2. Grading a Column in the Full Grade Center
  3. Grading a Cell in the Full Grade Center

These processes begin by expanding the Grade Center entry in the Course Management menu. Click on Needs Grading to start the Needs Grading workflow, or click on Full Grade Center to start either of the other two Grading workflows.

Screen Shot: Choosing Needs Grading or Full Grade Center within Grade Center

Needs Grading Workflow

Upon clicking on Needs Grading you'll be presented with a screen that lists all work that students have submitted through Blackboard but that has not yet been graded. The list will be empty if there is nothing waiting to be graded. By default, all items waiting for grading will be listed, and options on the screen will let you narrow the list if it is lengthy. You can select to view only one category of work, a specific assignments, specific users, or ranges of dates submitted. A check-box labeled "Show attempts that don't contribute to user's grade," is relevant only if some students have submitted more than one attempt for a given assignment, AND the corresponding Grade Center column is set only to count the grade on either the first or last submission.

Screen Shot: Filtering and Sorting options in Needs Grading

The list of submissions waiting to be graded will look something like this image, which comes from Blackboard's documentation:

Screen Shot: Needs Grading: List of items waiting to be graded

For each waiting submission, the category, name of the assignment, name of the student, date and time submitted, and due date are shown. By clicking on the title at the top of any of these columns, you can change the sort order in which submissions are listed. Note that assignments submitted after the due date are flagged with a "Late" marker next to the date and time submitted.

Clicking on a user name will bring up an individual submission for review and grading. After grading one submissions, you'll be able to navigate either to other submissions from the same student or submissions from other students within the same assignment (Grade Center column).

Grading a Column in the Full Grade Center

A similar but more narrowly focused workflow can be started by clicking on the chevron immediately to the right of name of a column in the Full Grade Center, then clicking on Grade Attempts in the expanded menu that appears.

Grading a Cell in the Full Grade Center

A different process can be started by moving the cursor inside one cell in the Full Grade Center. That will cause a chevron (down-arrow inside a circle) to appear within the cell. Click on the chevron then click on View Grade Details in the expanded menu that appears. The screen will then display details about existing grades or submissions for that one assignment and one student:

Screen Shot: Grade history within a cell in Grad Center

Any submissions (attempts) by the student are listed on the screen, and clicking the Grade Attempt button will bring up a screen for review and grading of the submission.

Reviewing and Grading a Submission

Any three of the workflows described above will bring you to a screen on which the student's submission can be reviewed and graded. The format of the screen will vary depending on the type of submission (test, assignment, discussion board, etc.). All of the those screens allow you to enter a grade in the format defined by the Primary Display setting in the Grade Center column that holds the grades for that submission. Most allow text comments as well. The screen for grading assignments such as essays includes markup tools (click on the Markups tab at the top of this page for details).

Override Grades

There are two ways to enter an Override Grade in the Full Grade Center.

  1. Direct Entry: Just click inside a cell and type a grade value.
  2. Manual Override Button: a button inside of the Grade Details display

Direct Entry

Click inside of any cell in the Full Grade Center and type a grade value, then press Enter. The value entered must have the format specified by the Primary Display setting of the Grade Center Column within which the cell is located. Here, an Override Grade of zero percent is being entered:

Screen Shot:  Typing an override grade directly in a cell.

Manual Override Button

Move the cursor inside a cell and click on the chevron that appears, then click on View Grade Details. In the screen that appears, click on Manual Override. This will bring up a screen for entering an Override Grade. Here, the Manual Override Button is circled in red:

Screen Shot: Manual Override tab/button inside the grade details within a cell

Using Override and Ordinary Grades

Because Override Grades have the effect of hiding ordinary grades posted for the same submission, Override grades should be used sparingly and with caution. Generally speaking, ordinary grades are better used for grading student submissions under most circumstances, and Override Grades are better used to record exceptions. For example, use the Needs Grading workflow to grade student submissions, then enter Override Grades one cell at a time to record zeroes for students who've submitted nothing, and from whom you'll no longer accept submissions. 

NOTE: If you record an Override Grade, and then later record an ordinary grade for the same student and assignment, the older, Override Grade will still be the one that is displayed and used in Grade Center calculations. This could happen, for example, if you've entered an Override Grade of zero for a missed deadline, and then later accept a late submission and grade it through the Needs Grading workflow. You'll have to remove (revert) the Override Grade to allow the later, ordinary grade to be visible and used in calculations. 

If you have a mix of ordinary grades and Override Grades in the Grade Center, these can be distinguished from each other in two ways:

  1. A small, orange-brown triangle in the upper left-hand corner of any cell that holds an Override Grade, when the Full Grade Center is displayed.
  2. A red-letter statement 

The following example shows a portion of the Full Grade Center display, with triangles marking individuals cells that hold Override Grades:

Screen shot: Grade center, showing Override grades marked by an orange-brown triangle in the upper-left corner of a cell.

When viewing the details of a grade that contains an override, the screen will contain a statement, in red, that an Override Grade is in effect:

Screem shot: statement, in red letters, that the original grade has been overriden, as shown in the details of a student's submission

Removing (Reverting) Override Grades

Removing an Override Grade is called "Reverting" in Blackboard; To Revert an Override Grade, open the Full Grade Center and locate the individual cell that contains the grade to be changed. Move the cursor into that cell, then click on the chevron (down-arrow inside a circle) that appears. On the menu that appears, click "View Grade Details," then click the Revert button. The Revert button is shown here, circled in red:

Revert Button

If the reverted cell had contained an ordinary grade in ADDITION to an Override Grade, the original grade will immediately become the grade that is displayed and used in calculations. If the reverted had contained no grade other than the Override Grade, then the cell will go back to being blank (empty).