Grading an Assignment

This guide explains how to provide grades and feedback for assignments submitted electronically via Blackboard.

As explained in the Creating an Assignment guide, whenever you create an assignment in Blackboard, a related column is added automatically to the Grade Centre. This is used to store provisional grade information and provide feedback to your students. You can access assignments that have been submitted and need grading from either the Needs Marking page or the Grade Centre (Full Grade Centre).

Both of these options can be accessed in your module by expanding the Grade Centre section of the Control Panel.

Accessing & Grading Assignments via Needs Marking

The Needs Marking page provides a convenient way of viewing all assignments in your module which need marking. This may be useful if you have large numbers of students or many assignments.

You can filter and sort submissions to easily identify certain assignments or see if there are any outstanding submissions you need to mark for a particular assignment. Use the Filter drop-down lists (A) to narrow the list of items to grade by Category, Item, User and Date Submitted. For example; make selections in both the Category and User drop-down lists to display assignments submitted by a particular user.

The Needs Marking Page

Clicking on the Grade All button (B) will load the first assignment in the list so that you can begin grading and providing feedback. All of the attempts in the list on the Needs Marking page will be queued up, so you can quickly navigate between them and grade one another. You can also click on the name of a student in the User Attempt column (C) to grade a single student’s attempt.

Accessing & Grading Assignments via the Grade Centre

The Grade Centre shows all gradable items. This includes Assignments, Tests, Surveys and any gradable Blogs, Journals or Discussion Boards you may have setup in your module.

Assignment Attempts in the Grade CentreWhen a student submits an assignment, an exclamation mark appears in the corresponding cell – this is the Needs Grading icon. (Click on the Icon Legend button for explanations of all other icons that appear in the Grade Centre). To view the submission, hover your mouse over the appropriate cell and then click on the arrowed button which appears to display a menu. From this menu, you can:

Click View Grade Details to go to the Grade Details page. This shows you information about all of the student’s attempts for this assignment. This is useful if you permitted more than one attempt at this assignment. From this page, you can view and grade individual attempts by clicking on the Grade Attempt button next to each attempt. This will take you directly to the Grade Assignment page. You can also clear individual attempts and ignore attempts. The Allow Additional Attempt button appears if the student has already submitted the maximum number of attempts allowed for that assignment. You might want to offer a student the opportunity to re-submit if, for example, they failed to attach a file with their original submission. You can also clear attempts, ignore attempts and edit grades directly from this page.

The Grade Details page

Click on the Attempt link in the menu to go directly to the Grade Assignment page for that attempt. For assignments which allow multiple attempts, each attempt submitted by the student will appear as a separate link in the menu, with the date of the submission and the current status (e.g. Needs Grading) or the grade (if already graded).

The Grade Assignment Page

The Grade Assignment page enables you to view, comment and grade student assignment submissions within a single interface. Documents submitted by students in Word, PowerPoint, Excel and PDF format are converted and displayed directly within the Web browser, eliminating the need for you to download the file to view their work (download option is still available). Their work is displayed on the left-hand side (A). Use the buttons on the toolbar (B) to zoom in and out on the document, move from page to page and download the document.


Work submitted by students which is displayed in the Web browser can also be annotated, allowing you to provide comments and highlight aspects of their work as a means of feedback. To do so, click on the Comments button (C) on the toolbar (next to the zoom in/out buttons). Students can view your annotations by returning to the assignment submission page and viewing their work, complete with annotations, in the browser. Note that annotations will only be displayed to students if a grade has been entered and presence of annotations will not be flagged up in My Grades. You should therefore inform students manually (either via email or an announcement, or both) that feedback is available as annotations if you have used this feature.

The inline grading sidebar (right hand side) provides you with all the tools you need to grade the assignment. You can view the assignment details (click Assignment Details labelled D to expand), navigate to each attempt (E) if multiple attempts are permitted, enter grades and feedback for each attempt, as well as enter an overall grade (F). Feedback for each attempt can be typed in the text box provided (G). Click on the vtbe_text_icon  button to open the full content editor.

To attach a file as feedback, click on the paperclip icon vtbe_attachments_icon in the Feedback to Student text box. This will launch a new window which allows you to attach a file by clicking Browse My Computer and then selecting the file from your computer. This could be a document with typed feedback or perhaps an annotated version of the student’s work. You could even attach an MP3 audio file or video file. Remember to click Submit in this window to attach the file.

Adding a feedback fileA link to the file will appear in the text box. Students can view this link in the Tutor Comments (Feedback) column in My Grades. To remove the file, simply delete the link in the text box.

Clicking on Add Notes (I) allows you to enter private grading notes which are not visible to the student. You can download the originally submitted file(s) by clicking the arrowed button next to the filename(s) in the Submission section (H). You can also maximise the document viewer and grading sidebar to fill the entire browser frame (J).

You can navigate to other students’ attempts and assignment submissions by clicking Jump To… (K). This will display a series of drop-down boxes which allows you to pick an assignment, a user and an attempt (if more than one attempt exists). Clicking on Hide User Names will remove all user identification from the attempt, so it can be marked anonymously.

Remember to click Submit to save your feedback and grade, or click Save Draft if you want to save your changes and return at a later time to complete the feedback.


Important Note: When you created the assignment, you may have opted to hide the grades and feedback from students until you have finished marking them all. Remember to change the visibility setting when you are ready to release grades and feedback to your students. In the Grade Centre, locate the column for the assignment, click the down-arrow button in the column header and choose Edit Column Information from the menu. Under Options change Show this Column to Students to Yes and then click Submit.