Improving letter grading

Idea created by mh35391 on May 31, 2017
    Under review

    This is a copy of a post from the Scandinavian Users Group. For the complete thread go to:




    See my other post for introduction. This is the second discussion post about changes/custom development to the base configuration in Blackboard, that we want to discuss with you.


    One of our biggest concerns right now is the way Blackboard (along with many other LMS:s, for that matter) deals with letter grading and forcing the teacher to always consider numeric points in assignments. I guess the issues we are having, and our thoughts about it, are more common among Scandinavian colleagues and institutions than in North America, but there might be interest also over there so I am inviting them in.


    A brief recap on the current situation:

    - Teachers are forced to assign numeric points to an assignment

    - Teachers are able to set primary grading to points or any other custom grading schema that you've set up.

    - Students enter the assignment and see only what maximum POINTS the assigment gives

    - After completion, the teacher assign POINTS to the assignment via inline grading

    - The system converts these points to letter grades according to the grading schema.

    - The student now sees the letter grade in all views

    - The teacher sees the letter grade in grade center but points in the inline grader.


    The problem, as we see it, is that teachers are forced to give points to (qualitative) assignments even though letter grades are set as primary grades. We understand that Blackboard really wants to do mathematical equations - its about statistics, about goal fulfillment, about big data, and I don't think the solution to our concern needs to get rid of that, but to hide it from the teacher and student when letter grading is used. The grading schema is still at work, if you put anything than "0" in the points field when you create the assignment.


    This is our proposition.


    1. Constructing the assigment



    2. Student completing the assignment



    3. Grading the assignment



    Ok, so in this mockup, we are not really re-building the grading procedure in Blackboard from the ground up, only enabling the teacher to use letter grading in the inline grader. Since it is still using a grading schema, whatever points you put in the "points" field when constructing the assignment will still be used "behind the curtains" so to speak, since the grading schema is converting the "VG" letter to whatever precentage is put in the schema. However, it is now of much less importance. Ideally, we would like to disregard points as a whole when using letter grades, but I think Blackboard would have a hard time accepting that since it would be implications in so many areas of Blackboard. Here, however, the points system and grading schema, are of less importance.


    If you look at the inline grader as a system and piece of software, it is obvious to me that it really accepts alphabetical grades. This is the student view after it has been graded. This image is unaltered, and it shows the actual grades from the grading schema. Therefore, it should also work the other way around when putting the letter grades there as a teacher.




    Today, we have a few options. Either we ask the teachers to put "zero" in the points field and then use "Text" as primary grade. The teachers put zero in the inline grader and then, in the grade center, convert these grades to actual "text"-grades. Not optimal. The other option, which we are working with right now, is to have a second, off-line, grading schema that the teachers need to consider. If you have an assigment like the one above, which has the VG-G-U grades, you put "2" as total points in the assigntment. The second, off-line, grading schema then specifies that "0 equals U, 1 equals G and 2 equals VG". The actual grading schema within BB is working along with this, when translating percentages.


    So, excuse the wall of text, but this issue is important to us. Now, I really would like some input on the idea above, if it is something that more of you would like to see. I also want to hear a little about what you are doing today - how are you communicating this to your teachers?


    Thanks for reading!

    /Peter Norberg

    Dalarna University

    Product Version (if applicable):0