All Pace instructors should know by now that syllabi are required for all courses, and that the Provost strongly suggests posting the syllabus to Blackboard at least one week before classes begin (U. Sukhatme, communication to all teaching faculty, August 12, 2014).
Okay, so you’ve posted your syllabus…now what?
Well, now it is time to set up your Blackboard Grade Center. Yes, before the class begins is a great time to get the grading organized. Regardless of whether or not you have assignments posted in Blackboard, you can create your grades in Blackboard. Surveys show that students view the ability to see their grades as the number one reason they use Blackboard. Preparing your Grade Center before the class starts does the following:
- It forces you, as an instructor, to get organized. By seeing the end result, you are forced to develop the means to get there. This, in turn, reduces the amount of stress at the end of the semester.
- It allows you to check the math behind the grades. Yes, you should be checking the math…especially if you are utilizing methods such as rubrics, weighted grades or dropping the lowest quiz score. After you create your desired grading formula, throw in some sample scores and make sure you check it by calculating a few final grades by hand. After all, if you don’t understand how the grades are created, then there is no way you can explain it to the students.
- It allows you to check the letter grades Blackboard creates. If you are allowing Blackboard to translate numeric scores into letter scores, you need to make sure the letter grades are correct. The translation occurs due to the grading schema, which may not be correct for you and/or your department.
- It allows your students to see exactly how their grades are determined. This provides motivation as well as clarity, and defuses conflicts that might arise at the end of the semester.
- It provides for accurate record keeping…which is available for six years after the course has ended.
- You can add/edit/create/delete grades from anywhere in the world that has Internet access. You no longer have to worry about taking your grade book to Aruba on Spring Break. Just log in to Blackboard and take care of grades while on the beach.
- Okay, so what if you’re an Excel person? Fine, it is easy to import (and export) Excel files between Blackboard and Excel.
So, the advantages of organizing your Grade Center are great. For assistance in any of the above procedures, please feel free to contact Academic Technologies by calling 914.773.3664 or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be glad to meet with you one-on-one or set up a time to meet with a small group or department. Again, the best time to do this is BEFORE the semester begins.