Work with Grade Center Basics

The most commonly used first steps in setting up grade center are included here. Step 1, Add a Grade Center Column, is ONLY for when there is no Blackboard-based assignment (such as for in-class participation).

Add a Grade Center Column (Classic)

You do not need to create columns for tests students will take through Blackboard or assignments that students will upload through your course site. Instead, create and deploy the test or assignment. Doing so will create the Grade Center column. 

To create a Grade Center column, navigate to the Full Grade Center in the Control Panel of your course and click the Create Column button in the upper left.

Upper left Create Column button in Full Grade Center view

The first step in creating a column is entering the column name.

Column name and grade center name

The Column Name is a required field. This is the name text that appears in the Grade Center by default, and on your students' My Grades page.

The Grade Center Name field lets you enter a short-name for the Grade Center's instructor view. For example, if you have a number of columns named Homework Assignment #01, Homework Assignment #02, Homework Assignment #03, etc., in the Grade Center you may see only "Homework Assignment" over and over. You can use the Grade Center name to shorten these to HA 01, HA 02, HA 03. The students will still see "Homework Assignment #01" and so on, but in the Grade Center table, you'll see the shorter name.

The Description field is for providing students with a brief description of what assessment the column represents. This is completely optional.

Primary and secondary display options

Next, the display options, shows how the grade is shown in the Grade Center and on the students' My Grades page.

The Primary Display is shown to students and appears in the Grade Center. You can choose score, letter, text, percentage, or complete / incomplete. Broadly speaking, you'll be entering the students' grades as a score (unless you choose TEXT as the score type), Blackboard will then convert the score into the display option you select here.

The Secondary Display is not visible to students. It gives you the option to view a letter, percentage, or complete / incomplete symbol alongside the primary display you selected.

Category and points possible

Setting an appropriate category is critical to creating a Weighted Total column (where you can use category to set a number of columns to be worth, say, 25% of the weighted total). Categories can be useful for filtering the Grade Center (briefly setting the Grade Center to display only Discussion items, for example).

Points possible indicates the total number of points for the assessment.

The Add RUBRIC button lets you add one or more rubrics (as created using Blackboard's rubric tool -- see link below) that can be used to score and provide feedback for student work.

column due date

The Due Date field lets you set a due date for the assignment. This date will appear on the students' My Grades page (if you decide to make the item visible to students), and it will also put the item on the students' Blackboard calendar.

Column options

Finally, you'll need to decide whether the column should be included in the Grade Center calculations (select NO if it is a self-assessment, or if you'll be aggregating this column into a calculated column that will be used in the final calculations instead),

The "Show this Column to Students" option determines whether the item will appear on the students' My Grades page (as with all visibility options on Blackboard, this can be changed later if you choose),

The Show Statistics option determines whether students see the class average and mean for this assessment on their My Grades page.

Once you have the column set up, click SUBMIT to save your changes.

Add a Grade Center Category

Categories are used to group items together in the Gradebook and Overall Grade column. Assignment, Test, Discussion, Journal, Attendance, Exam, Homework, Presentation, and Quiz are the default Categories included in all Blackboard Ultra courses, but you can also create additional categories.

From your Blackboard Ultra course site's Gradebook page, click the Settings (gear) button.

Gradebook settings button in context, highlighted

On the Settings panel, scroll down to Grade Categories, then click the Add New Category button.

New Grade Category button in context

Type the name for your new category. Click the ENTER button on your keyboard to save your change.

Type Category Name box with sample text entered

Create a Weighted Total

The Grade Center's Weighted Total column lets you provide "percent of total" values for both stand-alone columns and columns collected by category, most often creating a final grade column that functions independent of point values.

The Blackboard-classic Grade Center includes by default a weighted total column that includes no columns or categories. In most cases, editing this column is the best approach. If you need an additional weighted total column, from the Full Grade Center point to Create Calculated Column then choose Weighted Total.

Create Calculated Column option, Weighted Total item highlighted

 To use the existing column, click the OPTIONS button that appears right of the Weighted Total column heading and choose Edit Column Information

Weighted total options menu with edit column information highlighted

The first parts of the Weighted Total column are standard to columns in the Grade center. There's a Column Name you can edit, should you like, that defaults to "Weighted Total", and a "Grade Center Name" which allows you to abbreviate the column header in your Grade Center view. There's also a description field that is exposed to both students and graders.

column name and grade center name fields

You can also set the primary and secondary display (the latter being only visible in the Grade Center) for your column.

For simplicity's sake, we recommend only displaying Percentage or Letter Grade for weighted total columns. 

Primary and secondary display options

You actually do the business of setting up your weighted total column under the Select Columns heading, where it says "Include in Weighted Grade". As mentioned at the top, you can add both columns and categories to a weighted total. To add individual columns, select the column you wish to add from the list, click the arrow pointing to the right (to add it to the "Selected Columns" box), then enter the percentage value for that column.

animation of column selection and weighted total being applied

In this example, we're adding the Final Paper, which is worth 25% of the final grade. So we select the Final Paper column from the Columns to Select list on the left, push it to the right with the arrow, then enter "25" in the space provided.

Note, when you select a column, the "Column Information" box shows the column's category and points possible.

category and points possible sections of columns to select

Weighting by category is possibly the most powerful aspect of the Weighted Total feature. The steps are the same as for adding a column -- select the category from the list, push it into Selected Columns, enter a percentage value. But adding categories lets you set a single percentage value for a number of Grade Center columns.

Notice, when we select a category, the Category Information box lists all the columns with the "Quizzes" category applied.

categories to select box with category information highlighted

Adding a category provides a different set of options

You can choose to weight the category equally -- all the columns are figured equally, regardless of their point values (a 10-point quiz has the same weight toward that 10% as a 20-point quiz), or proportionally (a 20-point quiz has double the weight of a 10-point quiz).

Grade Center columns created from outside tools are often generated with default categories -- online tests are created with the TEST category, online assignments are created with the ASSIGNMENT category. If you're creating weights by category, make sure all your grades have the appropriate category assigned.

You can also choose to drop some number of the highest and / or lowest grades (most often, faculty choose to drop the one or two lowest scores), or to use only the students' highest or lowest score in the category as the graded item.

category options

Total columns include the option to calculate as a running total. If Yes (the default) is selected, then columns with no score (appear as a "-" in the Grade Center view) are not included in the grade calculations. Therefore, no score is functionally equivalent to "exempt". This is useful for much of the term -- students one "100%" assignment will see they have a 100% (an A) in the class rather than, say a 10% (an F). However, if you use a running total, it's important to enter "0" in place of "-" when students miss an assignment, otherwise their final grade simply won't factor in those empty columns.

Running total option

When you're all set, click SUBMIT to save your edited Weighted Total Column.