Blackboard’s Grade Center can be a very useful tool that can save time. However, the Grade Center is also a complex tool that can cause frustration and confusion. The first couple of tips relate to the interface and how you can use some hidden features to make life easier or avoid problems.
Hidden from whom? Blackboard has two options in the column header menu (1 in image below) to hide the column. One option hides the column from students (more common intent) and the other hides the column from the instructor.
Column header context menu showing the menu button (1), Show/Hide to users option (2) and the Hide Column (3) option.
Show/Hide to Users (2 in the image above) should read Show/Hide to Students. This option leaves the column available in the Grade Center for the instructor but hides the column from students. The visual change is shown in the image below.
Change in Column header when hiding a column from students using the Show/Hide to users menu option.
Hide Column hides the column in the Grade Center but not from the students. The column disappears from the Grade Center but students will an entry for the column in My Grades. The image below shows the changes when selecting Hide Column.
Grade Center changes when selecting the Hide Column option from the column heading context menu.
The only way to hide a hidden (from instructor) column from your students is to first make in visible in the Grade Center. To do this, use the Manage Menu. Click on the entry for Column Organization:
Column Organization option selected in the Grade Center Manage Menu
Once in the Column organization page, find the hidden column and use the Show/Hide button on the bottom of the page to change the visibility of the column using the Show Selected Columns option. Next, click the submit button to make the column visible in the Grade Center. Finally, using the column header menu, hide the item from the students.
Select the hidden column and then click on the Show/Hide Button and select Show Selected Column to make the column reappear in the Grade Center
Smart Views - Smart views are a way to show defined subsets of the Grade Center. Instead of scrolling back and forth through the Grade Center to add grades for components of a project, you can create a smart view for the project and include only the relevant columns. If you have students work in groups, you can create smart views for each group so you can easily grade all the members of the group at once without scrolling through the rows of students. Visit the Blackboard Help Center to learn how to create your own Smart Views.
Color Coding Grades - Need a visual cue about who’s doing poorly on exams and other work? Color coding allows you to create color codes that correspond to different levels of achievement to allow you to quickly see whose doing well and who needs help. Watch the video to see step-by-step how to add color codes to your Grade Center.
Text Grades – Do you want to use the Assignments feature to have students submit preliminary work for comment but not grade? The Assignment workflow is convenient but requires a point value when you create the assignment. Further, when you provide feedback your students can’t see the feedback unless you enter a grade. Since the work is not graded entering a grade of 0 doesn’t make sense and sends the wrong message to the students. However, editing the column information and changing the primary display to text allows you to make a text entry that can encourage students and allow you to use the Assignment workflow to provide detailed comments to your students.
Grade Center Edit Column screenshot showing Primary Display selection
When you set the Primary Display of a column to Text the option to include the Grade in Grade Center Calculations will automatically be set to “No” because there is not numeric equivalent that can be used in a calculation.
NEXT, in Part 2, calculating grades with Blackboard…