Grade Center – Calculated Columns

Vendor Documentation: Calculating Grades

Calculated Columns: Total & Weighted

Blackboard’s Grade Center can be used to calculate final grades for you, regardless if you use Blackboard to deliver assignments, assessments and other grade-able activities, or just manually enter grades into manually created columns.

Weighted Calculated Columns

Blackboard Help

In the Grade Center, you can weight grades either by individual items or by categories.

Note: If you weight your grades by category, you have the option of dropping the lowest grade in the category; if you weight by item, you do not have this option.

This page from Loyola University Chicago has detailed examples for understanding how Blackboard calculates weighted grades.

Before creating a Weighted Total Column using Category Weights, you should be sure that all of your assignments, tests, manually created columns, etc., are associated with a category, so that the Grade Center knows what to include in calculating the final grade.

To create a weighted calculated column:

  • On your Course Site, under the Control Panel, click Grade Center, and then click Full Grade Center.
  • Click the Chevron to the right of Weighted Total column.
  • Select Edit Column Information.
  • Scroll down to Section 3.
  • Click on the category or item and then click on the right pointing arrow to move it to the Selected Columns area.
  • Enter the percentages for each category/item (ex. 25% Category: Test, 35% Category: Assignments) … just make sure that the Total Weight (at the bottom of the Select Columns area) adds up to 100%.
  • Repeat this process as necessary.
  • Select Yes to calculate the weight as a running total to include only the columns that have been graded or select No to include all columns.
    ** Make sure to enter zero for any assignment that a student did not turn in if you are using the running total option.
    ** If you are including ALL columns, make sure to select the “Exempt” option if you’re excusing a student from a given assignment.
  • Click Submit.

Note: If you select a category, then you will see options to drop the highest or lowest grades. A grade column that is set to “No” in the Include in Grade Center Score option will not display in the selection list.

What is the difference between proportional weighting and equally weighting categories for weighted grades?

Proportional vs. Equal weighting is a setting when you weight by category. It only makes a difference if you have columns with different points possible in the same category (e.g. a Discussion category with columns worth 5 points and columns worth 10 points). If all of the columns in the category are equal, both settings work the same way.

When you have categories of differing values, Equal Weighting converts the columns to percentages and averages the percentages to get the category composite grade. It essentially gives each item equal weight when determining the composite grade. Proportional weighting calculates a category composite grade by adding the raw scores and dividing by the total points possible. It retains the proportional weight of each item, so items with a larger value have more effect on the composite grade.

For example, consider two assignments in a category, one worth 5 points and the other worth 10 points. Assume the student gets 5 points on each assignment.

Equal weighting: 5/5 and 5/10 = (100% + 50%) / 2 = 75% (or you can think of converting it to equal Points Possible: 10/10 and 5/10 = 15/20)
Proportional weighting: 5/5 and 5/10 = 10/15 = 66.7%

The category composite grade is then weighted according to the percentage you indicated for the entire category and combined with the other columns or categories you have included in the Weighted Total.


Total Calculated Columns

To create a total calculated column:

  1. On your Course Site, under the Control Panel, click Grade Center, and then click Full Grade Center.
  2. Click Create Calculated Column.
  3. Select Total Column.
  4. Enter a Column Name.
  5. Enter a Description (Optional).
  6. Select a Primary Display.
  7. Select a Secondary Display (Optional).
  8. Select a Grading Period if necessary.
  9. Select the Columns or Categories that you’d like to use in calculating the final total points. Note that you can select All Grade Columns, All Grade Columns in a Grading Period (if you’ve set them up) or Selected Columns and Categories. If you decide to select columns and categories, please be aware that when selecting a category, you will NOT be able to assign a weighted percentage to the category (as in a Weighted Calculated Column). Instead, Blackboard will total all assignment/activities associated with that category and add them to the total calculation.
  1. Select Yes to calculate the weight as a running total to include only the columns that have been graded, or, select No to include all columns.
  2. Set the Options.
  3. Click Submit.

Note: Grading period and the drop-down menu will not display as an option unless grading periods have previously been created.

Exempting Grades

You may exempt grades from being calculated into either a Weighted or Total Calculated column. You do this manually in your course’s Grade Center.

To exempt a grade:

  1. Access the Grade Center.
  2. Go to the Column where you want to exempt a student’s grade.
  3. Click on the Option Chevrons icon in the student’s cell where the grade is you want to exempt.
  4. Choose “Exempt Grade” from the list of choices.

Once you have exempted the Grade, the student’s cell will look like the following:

You have the ability to clear the exemption by clicking on the Option Chevrons Icon again and choosing “Clear Exemption” from the list of options. The last grade to be assigned to that student will then re-appear.


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