… in the Bb Grade Center

Michael G. Prais, Ph.D. University of Illinois at Chicago

Looking for Trouble ... in the Bb GC

Looking for Trouble

SLATE 2012 October 11-12

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Looking for Trouble …
• The Blackboard Learn Grade Center is a black box for most instructors and support staff
• Simple Total Calculated Columns • Weighted Total Calculated Columns
SLATE 2012 October 11-12 Looking for Trouble ... in the Bb GC

• Unexpected scores, percentage score, and grades calculated in these columns—usually as the final course grade—are the primary source of problems in the Grade Center

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Use an Alter Ego for Checking
• UIC creates a “Secondary Blackboard Account” for instructors • Enroll your Alter Ego in your course site as a student
• As a Blackboard SysAdmin, enroll your regular identity in an instructor’s course site as a student
SLATE 2012 October 11-12 Looking for Trouble ... in the Bb GC

• Display Score and Percentage Score for the Final Score • Note your Final Score • Give yourself a Perfect Score (and a pat on the back) in column as you grade the students in that column
• The Final Score should increase (depending on weighting) • The Final Percentage Score should stay the same—100%.

• Calculate the difference in scores and compare • When testing after the fact:
• Clear all scores, add one score, compare, repeat

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Create Column
• Mistake #1: Using Inappropriate Possible Points
• Zero (0) Possible Points is allowed (and, at times, is useful) • Manage > Column Organization lists the Possible Points for each column
SLATE 2012 October 11-12 Looking for Trouble ... in the Bb GC

• Mistake #2: Hiding Unnecessary Columns
• Lack of contribution to a Calculated Column from hidden columns—especially when course sites are copied • Some instructors change assignment names or column names • Hidden columns might absorb points or add unexpected points • Manage > Column Organization lists all (hidden) columns • Show and Delete unused (unnecessary) columns

• Mistake #3: Changing Include in Grade Center Calculation
• Blackboard does not display a list of the status of these settings

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Create Calc’d Column - Total
• Mistake #4: Including All Columns--More or Less
• Can include unwanted columns • Include in Grade Center Calculation can skip some contributions • Blackboard does not conveniently list of the status of this setting
SLATE 2012 October 11-12 Looking for Trouble ... in the Bb GC

• Mistake #5: Unselected Columns and Categories
• Did you include all the correct Columns? • Include in Grade Center Calculation can skip some contributions • Manage > Column Organization

• Mistake #6: Missing the Categorical Imperative
• Evaluations, such as Assignments, automatically create a column and automatically establish its category • Your manually Created Columns don’t! • Manage > Column Organization lists assigned Categories

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Summing Categories
• All Columns in a selected Category are automatically Summed in Calculated Columns to produce representative scores • Equally (scaled to equal range) -- default Sum( PtsGvn/PtsPos ) /#Columns?
SLATE 2012 October 11-12 Looking for Trouble ... in the Bb GC

• Proportionally (unscaled) Sum( PtsGvn ) /#Columns or Sum(PtsPos)?
• Similar to calculations in Total and Weighted Total columns

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Groups
• Each group gets its grades in a separate column • Create category for each assignment • Put each column with group grades in the category to sum and produce a representative grade
SLATE 2012 October 11-12 Looking for Trouble ... in the Bb GC

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Totaling Totals
• Use Total or Weighted Total Columns to calculate Subtotals to make checking calculations easier—for instance, for group assignments or categories. • Mistake #7: Including Subtotals in Grade Center Calculations
• The Grade Center could include both the Subtotal and the constituent columns in a Total Column doubling the significance of the constituent columns • Set Include Column in Grade Center Calculation to No for Subtotal columns when totaling All Columns • Use Selected Columns and Categories to include only the Subtotal
SLATE 2012 October 11-12 Looking for Trouble ... in the Bb GC

• Use additional columns for that display Text for short notes about student grades (for help with later reference letters)
• Include Column in Grade Center Calculation – No (to be sure)

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Using a spreadsheet to calculate grades, do you get the same final total or weighted total scores as you get in the Blackboard Learn Grade Center?

Looking for Trouble ... in the Bb GC

How Do You Calculate Weighted Scores and Percentage Scores?

SLATE 2012 October 11-12

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Create Calc’d Column - Weighted
• The Bb Learn Grade Center does not calculate Weighted Scores and Weighted Percentage Scores the same way we do! • TotPtsPos (weighted sum of PtsPos—the maximum score): Sum( wt * PtsPos ) • Expected Weighted Score (weighted sum of PtsGvn): Sum( wt * PtsGvn ) • Bb Weighted Percent Score (wtd sum of fractional scores!): Sum( wt * PtsGvn/PtsPos ) • Blackboard Weighted Score (calculated from Wtd Percent): Sum( wt * PtsGvn/PtsPos ) * TotPtsPos • Expected Weighted Percent (calculated as fraction of whole): Sum( wt * PtsGvn )/Sum( wt * PtsPos )
SLATE 2012 October 11-12

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Looking for Trouble ... in the Bb GC

Create Calc’d Column - Weighted
• Mistake #Bb?
• The weighted percent score used in the Bb GC is the weighted sum of the fractional grades: It is a number between 0 and 1, but it is not the ratio of a part to the whole written as a percent! • The weighted percent score used in the Bb GC is a score--not a percent score! • The Bb GC uses this “weighted percent score” as though it is Sum(wt*PtsGvn)/Sum(wt*PtsPos) and multiplies it by Sum(wt*PtsPos) to erroneously give the Sum(wt*PtsGvn), which it could calculate directly (even as a Running Total)! • The weighted scores used in the BbGC are “monotonic increasing” with the student scores, so it does separate student performance
SLATE 2012 October 11-12

• Mistake #8: Making the Total Weight other than 100%
• The Bb GC calculation is not equal to what you would expect • Unequal Possible Points for the weighted scores also does not give a value in the Weighted Column that you would expect

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Looking for Trouble ... in the Bb GC

Running Total
• Mistake #9: Forgetting to turn Running Total off at the end of the semester when classes finish and grades go in
• The Running Total does not include missing submissions and, thus, does not require some students to do all the (the same amount of) work • It is a lot easier and less error prone than putting zeros in for all the assignments that students did not turn in
SLATE 2012 October 11-12

• Mistake #10: Forgetting to turn Running Total off when checking Grade Center validity • Mistake #11: Forgetting to turn Running Total on after checking Grade Center validity • You must Edit each Total and Weighted Total Calculated Column to see and properly set each Running Total option

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Looking for Trouble ... in the Bb GC

Scheming to Get the Grades You Want
• Score, Percent, and Text are the basic ways to display grades • Letter and Tardy are provided Grade Schemas that convert scores to more recognizable grades • Mistake #12: Using the Letter Schema without understanding the particulars of the conversion scheme—especially when placing letter grades instead of a score in a column • Attendance and Minutes Tardy are other conversion Schemas that can be created • Smart Views allow you to view daily attendance separately from other scores
• And to download only selected columns
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SLATE 2012 October 11-12 Looking for Trouble ... in the Bb GC

Extra Credit
• Create 4 columns for Extra Credit:
• Final Grade without Extra Credit
• Use Selected Columns and Categories
SLATE 2012 October 11-12

• Extra Credit
• Set Possible Points to Zero (0)

• Final Grade with Extra Credit
• Use Selected Columns and Categories

• Manually Selected Final Final Grade

• Bb does not have the logic to decide which you want

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Looking for Trouble ... in the Bb GC

Excel at Scantron Scoring
• Download Student Information Only in the Grade Center
• Include Hidden Information (UIN)

• Open the Student Information File (XLS) as a spreadsheet • Import the fixed format Scantron File in another worksheet
• Skip unnecessary columns

• Add a Header to the scores column • =IF(NOT(ISNA(VLOOKUP($D2,Scores!$A:$C,3,FALSE))), VLOOKUP($D2,Scores!$A:$C,3,FALSE),"") • Insert and add missing essay scores • Save to Text (Tab Delimited)
• Replaces formulae with values, too

• Upload to the Grade Center

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Looking for Trouble ... in the Bb GC

SLATE 2012 October 11-12

Remember:
• Enrolling an Alter Ego in the Grade Center of your course site is the best way to look for trouble in (check the validity of) grade calculations • Use Manage > Column Organization to get an initial overview of all the columns in the Grace Center of your course site
• It would be nice to see Include in Grade Center Calculation settings in Manage > Column Organization
SLATE 2012 October 11-12

• Show your instructors how the Blackboard Grade Center calculates scores and percentage scores to make them feel comfortable using this tool (even though it is inaccurate and does not match what they expect to get from the calculations)
• The Grade Center might be the first tool that instructors look at in making their first steps from traditional academic productivity tools

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Looking for Trouble ... in the Bb GC

… in the Bb Grade Center
Michael G. Prais, Ph.D. University of Illinois at Chicago mgprais@uic.edu

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Looking for Trouble ... in the Bb GC

Looking for Trouble

SLATE 2012 October 11-12

More Mistakes? Questions?