Guest post by Paige Brooks-Jeffiers, eLearning Technology Coordinator, Kentucky Community and Technical College System and a member of the Ask Dr. C program, a free question and answer service for Blackboard users.
If you teach courses using Blackboard, you are probably aware of the grade center and its functions. For those not familiar, the feature allows instructors to centralize their grading and student assessment digitally, while at the same time, provides students access to their progress on individual assignments in the course. All of this is well and good, but as the educators, we need a tool to help manage not only each individual grade but also to identify students who are falling behind and, sometimes, spot exceptional achievers and encourage them to push even further.
So are you ready to see how the Blackboard grade center can help you effectively manage more aspects of your class? Let’s look at these four grade center features in Blackboard Learn, Release 9.1 that can help you better identify and manage students.
- Text Fields: It is often necessary to differentiate students based on their enrollment or group involvement. Do this by creating a text column and enter the information for each student. You can then use this column for quick access to the information you need!
- Calculated Columns: The calculated columns feature is one of my favorite bits of functionality within the grade center because it allows student performance to be viewed in relation to others. By creating these columns, you allow learners to see exactly how well they are performing in each area of your course. This can encourage students to seek help in subject matter where they may be falling behind.
- Smart Views: Smart views allow you to look at sub-sets of students, columns and grades based on criteria that you specify. This can be used in conjunction with calculated columns and save quite a bit time! When using the feature, you can quickly see which students have submitted work to be graded and which haven’t. It can also be used to pull a list of students who have performed below a specified level or those who have excelled. By creating custom smart views, you are given the flexibility of combining “and” and “or” parameters to provide the exact bird’s eye view of the grades you need.
- Color Coding: Grade center cells can be set to the color of your choice based on four sets of criteria (eg., in progress, needs grading, exempt and grade ranges). Grade ranges is my favorite because it allows me to visually track student achievement, or lack thereof! For example, I can mark all cells red where students have earned below a specified percentage. This allows a quick and easy way to visually identify students.
From text columns to color coding, you are now armed with a few ideas and suggestions to help make the grade center work for you. Do you have your own techniques? Share them in the comments below!