Grade Centre: introduction

The following video and guide introduce the Grade Centre in duo. If you will be using the Grade Centre beyond these simple functions, please see the information that follows the guide and the Advanced Grade Centre page.

Introduction to the Grade Centre in duo (Word)
Introduction to the Grade Centre in duo (PDF)

The Grade Centre in duo is powerful, but it can take a little while to understand what is displayed, not helped by some “sub-optimal” choices made by Blackboard’s design team. It is suggested you work through this entire example, if you are short of time, skip to the Summary at the end.

Setting up the Assignment

In this example. let’s assume that you have created a simple Assignment we’ll call Maths Test, where you are asking students to attach a file and submit it to you for marking. This is not something that can be automatically graded, you will need to open each student’s work from the Grade Centre, add feedback and provide a score later. (Instructions on creating an Assignment can be found here: Assignments in duo.)

A typical Blackboard Assignment object

A typical Blackboard Assignment object

 

We want to define the submission deadline, so when setting up the Assignment we use Blackboard’s Due Dates feature (as an aside, it is good practice to set this to a time when someone will be around to support students who are having problems):

Note the wording here is wrong! Students WILL be able to submit work after the due date (how else could it be marked late?)

Note Blackboard’s wording here is WRONG!
Students WILL be able to submit work after the due date (How else could it be marked late?)
It should probably read ‘Submissions accepted after this date are marked Late’

 

We also want to allow students to be able to change their mind and submit a new attempt. In this case we select the option to allow Unlimited Attempts, (we could also limit this to a maximum number if we wanted:

submission details

 

All set, we sit back and wait for students to submit their assignments.
Hopefully you have already briefed them on the process. Blackboard provide some helpful instructions aimed at students.

Watching Student Progress

At any time we can follow the progress of students by opening the Grade Centre:

grade centre 1

Click to see a larger version

 

Last Saved: 27 October 2014 09:44

Interpret this with care!

Above the table at the left hand side, a Last Saved Date is displayed – this can be useful if you are taking screen shots. Note this indicates the date and time that the Grade Centre was last changed – typically this is when a student Submits any Assignment or Test. Note that students Saving as Draft does not update this date.

icon legendThe icons, whilst easy to tell apart may not instantly communicate to you what they mean. Luckily if you press the Icon Legend button displayed immediately below the table of entries at the right hand side, a key is displayed:

The Icon Legend

Two of these entries are most relevant to us:

Needs Grading Icon Needs Grading – this indicates that the student has completed their part (submitting a file) and you will be able to mark it

Grading in Progress Attempt in Progress – this shows that the student has opened the Assignment and uploaded a file, but they have not pressed the Submit button. As such they will need to return later and Submit the attempt before you will be able to see it. Experience shows that many students will save a draft version of the Assignment in duo as part of their normal work flow. The important thing is that they know to return and Submit the assignment before the deadline! This is the digital equivalent of having printed off the paper copy, but it is still sitting on their desk.

If you want to remind students who have not yet submitted an assignment that the deadline is approaching, you can do this using the Retention Centre, creating a rule for Missed Deadlines – see Blackboard’s Help on this topic for more details.

Marking

Each time a student uploads a file and presses Submit, a new Attempt is created in the Grade Centre for this Assignment and associated with the student. When you go to mark their work, (by clicking the context icon at the right of the corresponding Grade Centre cell) a list is displayed. Next to each Attempt is an icon displaying its status, just like the ones used elsewhere in the Grade Centre.

For most students you will probably only see one Attempt:

single attempt

A single (submitted) attempt.

but if they have made several attempts they are listed oldest first like this:

multiple attempt

In this case the student submitted a file as their first attempt, then has come back and uploaded a second try on the same day but only saved this second attempt as draft. The second file will not be visible to you.

All dates displayed in the Grade Centre need to be interpreted with care.
The date(s) displayed in the context menu shows the time that the student first submitted or saved a draft of the assignment attempt. It does not change if a student later submits a previously saved draft.
As such, this date/time should not be used to indicate whether or not the submission is late.

Seeing what the student has done

The most foolproof method of working with the Grade Centre is to ignore the individual Attempt entries in the blue context menu and click the option View Grade Details. This opens a summary which contains several tabs.

The first tab displayed is the Attempts tab, which shows the date and time that each attempt was first saved.
As I am sure you know now, this can be either the date and time that the student Submits an attempt, or when the they Save it as Draft. Subsequently Submitting a previous draft version does not alter the date displayed here, even though it would be a useful feature:

Note the dates here both indicate the first time the attempt was either Saved as Draft or Submitted. As such it shouldn't be used to determine whether or not the work is late.

Note the dates here both indicate the first time the attempt was either Saved as Draft or Submitted.
As such it shouldn’t be used to determine whether or not the work is late – though Blackboard do :-(

 

Before marking the work, if you are concerned about late submissions at this stage, you should have a look at the Grade History tab. (There is another way to do this en masse, discussed later). This tab only shows you details of Submitted attempts, i.e. things you can mark. It also displays the date and time the work was finally submitted. Unfortunately it does not compare this to the Due Date and so doesn’t automatically flag late work:

grade details history

Currently, this is the only tab that displays the dates you need to be able to work out if a submission is on time or late! Thanks Blackboard…

 

You can then use the View Attempts button to access the individual submissions. These will also be displayed oldest first. In this example there are two attempts, the first has been submitted the second is still in Progress.

The first attempt is displayed, as it has been Submitted, you see the student’s work and the crocodoc mark up tools are displayed, allowing you to annotate the work online.

Grading the first attempt. Note the misleading date and time displayed here. Click to enlarge.

Grading the first attempt. Note the misleading date and time displayed here. Click to enlarge.

 

Sadly the date displayed is misleading – it is the date the Attempt was first Saved as Draft or Submitted. As such it shouldn’t be used to determine whether the work is late, even though Blackboard do – see the later section on Lateness.

Note the date displayed

Note the date displayed

 

Near the top of the page is a set of buttons that allow you to navigate through the attempts.

navigation bar

If you click the right arrow ‘>‘ you will be taken to Attempt 2:

This item was only Saved as Draft. Click to Enlarge.

This item was only Saved as Draft. Click to Enlarge.

 

As the green status bar message tells you, you can’t mark this work as the student hasn’t completed the submission process (it is still a draft).
If you need to see this work, you will need to contact the student and ask them to Submit the attempt. Note the original Assignment item in your course must be visible to the student for them to complete this action.

Lateness

This is implemented poorly in the current version of Blackboard. The intention is good, but the late flags are not obvious enough and worse sometimes don’t flag up work that is late. That’s pretty shoddy and Blackboard users have been badgering them to change this. Happily there is a way you can get the data you need, and it doesn’t involve a lot of clicks.

In certain circumstances, Blackboard will flag work as late. An example is shown below, where the student in question did not start the submission process until after the due date:

In this case, the work is flagged as late. Click to expand.

In this case, the work is flagged as late. Click to expand.

 

The LATE flag is a ‘triumph of understatement’ and is easily missed:

The LATE flag!

The LATE flag!

 

Note the work is not flagged as late on the Grade History page :-(

NOte there is no flag on this tab - a shame as this is the only one that always displays the final submission date. Click to Enlarge.

This is a shame as this is the only tab that always displays the final submission date. Click to Enlarge.

 

Luckily this example is also flagged as late when you try and Grade it:

The labelling is still under-whelming

The labelling is still under-whelming

 

though you have to be alert not to miss it:

At least it is next to the box where you type in the mark

At least it is next to the box where you type in the mark!

Getting a Definitive Date of Submission

At this point you may be close to despair. Luckily there is a simple way of getting a list of users and the date and time they actually submitted the file.

If you click on the associated column in the Grade Centre, a context menu appears.
Choose the option View Grade History

view grade historyA new table is displayed showing each time-stamped interaction -submission event.
It is ordered newest at the top, so you can quickly see any submissions that occurred after the Due Date.

A simple table clearly displaying the date(s) attempts were submitted by each student. Click to Enlarge.

A simple table clearly displaying the date(s) attempts were submitted by each student. Click to Enlarge.

If you want to keep a record of this, use the Download button above the table to export it in a format that you can open with Excel or any text editor.

Summary

In these scenarios Blackboard behaves as you expect:

If a student does not submit an Assignment there will be no entry in the Grade Centre or Grade History and nothing for you to mark.

Needs Grading IconIf a student accesses the Assignment before the due date, uploads a file and Submits it straight away, the work will be visible to you to mark and not flagged as late. The dates displayed throughout the grading process will accurately reflect the date and time of submission.

Grading in ProgressIf a student accesses the Assignment before the due date, uploads a file and chooses to Save as Draft (or just halts after this step, mistakenly thinking their Attempt has been submitted) and does nothing more, then their work will not be visible to you to mark or flagged as late. It will be shown in the Grade Centre as Attempt in Progress. The dates displayed throughout the grading process will accurately reflect the date and time the work was first saved as draft.

Needs Grading IconIf a student does nothing until after the due date, then uploads and immediately submits their file afterwards in one go, then the work will be visible to you and correctly flagged as LATE. The dates displayed throughout the grading process will accurately reflect the date and time of submission.

In these scenarios Blackboard behaves almost well enough:

Needs Grading IconIf a student accesses the Assignment before the due date, uploads a file and chooses to Save as Draft and then returns before the deadline and Submits their work, it will be visible to you to mark and not flagged as late. The dates displayed throughout the grading process will be slightly misleading as they reflect the date and time the work was first saved, not submitted, but as this is before the deadline it is not thought to be too serious!

Needs Grading IconIf a student does nothing until after the due date, then uploads a file and chooses to Save as Draft, returning later to submit their file , then the work will be visible to you and correctly flagged as LATE. The dates displayed throughout the grading process will be slightly misleading as (except for on the Grade History tab) they reflect the date and time the work was first saved, not submitted, but as this is still after the deadline it is not thought to be too serious!

In these examples it does not:

Needs Grading IconIf a student accesses the Assignment before the due date, uploads a file and chooses to Save as Draft at that time, but does not actually submit it until after the due date has passed, it should be flagged as LATE but in the Grade Centre it is not. The dates displayed throughout the grading process will be misleading as (except for on the Grade History tab) they reflect the date and time the work was first saved, not submitted, this could be significant if the penalty varies by the time elapsed after the due date. This is the most serious error discovered.

Needs Grading IconIf a student does nothing until after the due date, then uploads a file and chooses to Save as Draft, returning later to submit their file , then the work will be visible to you and correctly flagged as LATE. The dates displayed throughout the grading process will be misleading as (except for on the Grade History tab) they reflect the date and time the work was first saved, not submitted, this could be significant if the penalty varies by the time elapsed after the due date.

To guard against this, we recommend that until these issues are fixed you check the Grade History if you want to apply penalties to late work.
An alternative would be to hide the Assignment content item in the course after the due date has passed, but this would prevent any late submission and mean you would need to ensure the My grades tool is enabled in your course to allow students to access their marks and any feedback you have provided.