Sharing What I Find

Instructional Design and Technology in Education

Alternatives to Weighting Grades in Blackboard’s Gradebook

Some Instructors find that weighting grades in blackboard is too complicated and prone to miscalculations and errors. I think the current version of Blackboard (6.3) has addressed some of these calculation errors but it can still be quirky. If you do choose to use the Weighted Grades, just remember that once you begin to use the weighting features it is hard to go back so please begin with caution.

If you choose not to weight grades then you do have some options that can help you to manage the calculations for final grades. Here are some suggestions:

  1. If you choose not to weight grades then remove the Weight Total column from the student’s view:
    • go to the Gradebook through the Control Panel
    • click on Weighted Total
    • click on Item Information
    • click on No to Make item Available to Users
    • click Submit, click OK, click OK
  2. When you go back to the gradebook you will see that the Weight Total heading has an “*’ by the name — this means that the item is no longer in the student view.

  3. Change the way the Total Column calculates grades. As a default the Total column keeps track of the points students have earned on their assignments. There are some modifications you can make on this column to better serve your purpose.
    • go to the Gradebook through the Control Panel
    • click on Total
    • click on Item Information — here you have some options.
      • If you click on the YES by Exempt items that have not been graded option the Total will change to Running Total. This will show how many points to date the student has completed. Just be aware that if a student chooses not to complete an assignment then a ZERO should be entered as their grade to keep the running total accurate.
      • You can also determine how the Total (or Running Total) calculation will be displayed: as a score of points, as a percentage, as a letter grade, etc.
  4. If you choose to have the Running Total display as a percentage but do not use the standard 90—100=A, 80—89=B, 70—79=C, etc. then you can change the assignments. Do this by going to Gradebook Settings, Manager Display Options, and click on the Modify button by Letter. This matrix gives you the opportunity to customize your percentages and letter grades. Keep in mind that this modification will affect all letter grades (where you have elected to show the score as a letter grade) including self-assessments and final grades.
  5. You can also create alternative letter grades for example an “Honor” could be 90-100%, an “Satisfactory” could be 70-90% and a “Needs Improvement” could be 0-70%. Do this by clicking on the Add Display Option in the Manage Display Options page. Insert and remove calculations as needed. To be honest, I’m not sure of anyone who has modified letter grades so I would suggest trying it out in a test course first before implementing it in an active class.

If anyone is interested in trying these last two option I’d like to participate in the planning.

Author: Heidi Olson

Heidi enjoys working with content experts in developing eCampus courses to provide alternatives for students. Her other interests include faculty training in best practices for eCampus and researching eCampus tools to help fulfill learning outcomes. Having worked in the distance education arena for over 20 years, she has a wide range of experiences in supporting students and faculty as technology and pedagogy evolve.

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