By Judith Dutill, Instructional Design Technologist
There are so many things to keep track of at the start of a new term it can be difficult to know where to begin. Recent research shows us that there is one thing that we definitely do not want to overlook: setting up the Blackboard Grade Center! At Central Penn College we use the Grade Center to maintain a record of student grades. Not only do we associate the College’s grading schema with the Grade Center, we also associate assignments, discussion boards, tests, quizzes and other activities with the Grade Center too. This allows us to use the inline grading features within Blackboard to provide detailed feedback and grades to students.
In a recent Campus Technology article I learned of an analysis conducted by Blackboard to determine the biggest LMS predictor of student achievement. From the Campus Technology article, the analysis shows that the “most successful students” are those who access the gradebook function in Blackboard “most frequently” (para 3).
These results are yet another great reason to take the time to make sure that your Grade Center is set up correctly, now. Students rely on having access to an accurate grade record throughout the term, not just to keep track of their progress, but also as a motivator to achieve academic success.
What can you do today? Check your Grade Center and make sure that you…
- Delete redundant columns that may have carried over through a course copy.
- Eliminate unnecessary columns in the Grade Center, such as assignments you have changed or eliminated.
- Make sure your Grade Center reflects the weighted grade distribution and associated categories published in the syllabus.
- Verify that your Weighted Total is associated with the correct (most likely A-F 2016) grading schema.
Throughout the term you should…
- Let students know when graded feedback on assignments can be expected and follow-through on these promises.
- Keep Grade Center records up to date throughout the term.
- Remind students to check their Grade Centers frequently and to ask questions for clarification right away, especially when new grades are posted.
- Remind students how to read your detailed feedback and what their grades mean (especially when weighted grades are used).
If you need more information about how your Grade Center should be set up, contact your Program Chair or the LMS Administrator (firstname.lastname@example.org). Have a great term!