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Inflating Grades

Dear Faculty,

This is very important grading information related to Blackboard grades. We at CMET Consulting (Blackboard IT support) have noticed that many instructors may be giving out inflated grades because of a misunderstanding of one of the settings in the grade center. If you are using Blackboard’s Grade Center to calculate your final grades, please carefully review the following information.

The double-dash in the grade center cells in your Full Grade Center  “ – - “ represents a null or a grade exemption as the default setting, and does not represent a zero,. We’ve noticed that instructors are not entering zeroes for assignments that are not turned in and are leaving the dashes there instead. Unless you have changed the “Running Total” for your total column from the default of “Yes”, to “No”, you need to enter actual zeroes in all of those cells that should have zeroes or your students’ grades will be significantly inflated. If you do not, it will ignore that cell with the dashes in it and calculate their grade based only on what the student has turned in. For example, we have seen students who stop showing up or turning in assignments halfway through the class get A’s despite the fact that they should be failing the course because of this simple error and the fact that it’s only calculating the things the student turned in during the beginning of the course.

If you have been grading throughout the term and leaving dashes instead of zeroes, you need to either go through and add actual zeroes in the place of the dashes, or change your total and/or weighted total column (whichever you are using for final grades or both) to Running Total (below section #3) set to No by editing the column information. This will count every double dash – - in the grade center as a zero. Keep in mind the reason why the default Running Total is set to “Yes” is to literally display a running total of the student’s submissions. If it were set to “No” then all of the students would start out with an “F”. If you do it that way and set Running Total to No, any grades you still have left to enter (like a final exam score for example) will count as a zero until you enter the grade for that because the dashes for the final exam will now be zeroes for all students. So your total column will reflect a lower grade for your students if you still have grades left to enter and your Running Total is set to No. Despite that, we recommend setting your Running Total to No at the end of the term to ensure you aren’t missing any dashes/zeroes. If you’d like to avoid panicked emails from students about their drastically low grade (which appears lower because you still have grades to enter), you can hide the final grade column from them until you’ve finished entering all the grades for the course and then show it afterwards. To hide/show the total/weighted grade columns, you also would go to edit column information.

All of these settings can be found by clicking the little gray edit arrow next to the total column and selecting “Edit Column Information” from the drop down. The “Show/Hide to Users” setting is at the very bottom. Be sure to press Submit to save any changes. You’ll know that it is hidden from users because it will have a little red slash icon in the column header for anything hidden. To unhide it, you go to the same area, and switch it back.

Here are two thorough FAQ tutorials to refer to describing calculating grades:

http://library.uoregon.edu/scis/blackboard/faq/instructors/i80.html

http://library.uoregon.edu/scis/blackboard/faq/instructors/i14.html

Please feel free to contact us with any questions. For more complicated grade center issues we ask that you come in person to our office in room 19 of the Knight Library.

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