Learning Centered Technology

Technology for the Educator

Blackboard 9 Grade Center Series: Creating Columns

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Creating Columns

When you create gradable items in your course, grade columns are created automatically in the Grade Center. For instance if you create an assignment using the Assignment Tool. To create a column in a tool, go

to a Content Area> Assessments (or Tools)> Assignment (or Test).




  1. Name and Color title will become the name of the column in the Grade Center.
  2. The label for the grade section of the assignment tool.
  3. When you fill in the Points Possible or add a gradable rubric, a column will be created the grade center.
  4. This section will determine how the score is displayed, if the score is to be included in the total calculations, if students can see it, and if you want students to see the column stats.

A new Grade Column can be added to the Grade Center in the full grade center by clicking Create Column. Creating a column in this fashion allows you to create columns for things like attendance, participation, and external assignments. To access the Full Grade Center go into your course and go to Control Panel> Grade Center> Full Grade Center> Create Column

The Create Grade Column form will appear. Under Column Information you will need to fill out the Column Name. If you would like a different name to appear in the grade center, fill out the Grade center name. This function is handy to use if you want short column headings in the grade center. Instead of using Module 1 Assignment 1, the title can be abbreviated to M1A1. This will save space and allow more columns to appear on page.


The next section will allow you to determine how you want the grades to appear, by Score, Letter, Text, Percentage, or Complete/Incomplete. The secondary Display will permit you to display two types of scores in one column such as Score/Percentage, it would be displays as follows: 10 (100%). Points Possible and Rubrics can also be added in this section.


The Category section allows you to identify the type of assessment. Below is listed the default categories, but new ones can be added. We will discuss categories later in the series. The important thing you need to know about categories right now is that when you use categories, life will be easier for you when you attempt to do weighted totals. For instance, you could create a Homework category and identify the column as homework. When you attempt to calculate final grades, your calculations might look like Homework 10%, Assignments 25%, Quizzes 25%, and Final 40%. Using a weighed column, you would simply put each category with the percentage in the calculation box, and blackboard would calculate the results for you.


Dates and Options

These section allow you to set due dates and options of how you want the columns to display. It is similar to the options used when creating a column from a tool.


Calculated Columns

The Blackboard Grade Center allows you to create columns that will display a total based on the numeric content of other columns. Calculated columns contains the following type of columns:

  • Average Columns
  • Minimum/Maximum Columns
  • Total Column
  • Weighted Column


The Average Column – The average column is a type of calculated column that displays the average for all or a selected number of columns.  The Create Average columns works the same as creating columns, you just need to fill out the form. You will see a new section called Select Columns. This section will allow you to choose the columns you want to include in the Average.


Using All Grade Columns will create a formula similar to the one below.

(Column 1%) + (Column 2%) + (Column 3%) + (Column 4%) = % earned divided by 4 columns = Average percentage score.

Selecting the Selected Columns and Categories will open additional options:


  1. Select the Categories you want included in the Average.
  2. Select the Arrow button to move the item into the Selected Column
  3. You can now drop the highest and/or lowest grade in that category, weigh equally or proportionally, or use only the highest or lowest to calculate the grade.

Using the Selected Columns and Categories option, you do not have to use the categories list. Instead you can manually select the columns you want to include in the calculation.

You also have the option to Calculate as a Running Total.


It is important to know Running totals exempt cells that do not contain data. If you are using this option you will need to make sure you put a 0 in all scores missed by the student, if you do not grades will appear artificially high for the column. This is because scores are based on only completed work not all the work that is due. On the other hand, answering No to running totals will make grades seem artificially low, because calculation are based on total points possible overall, not to date.

Minimum/Maximum Column – The minimum/maximum column is a type of calculated column that displays either the minimum or maximum grade for a selection of columns. It is similar to the Average in the setup, but you choose Minimum or Maximum. This calculation can be used to determine what content your students may be struggling with.

Total Column – The total column is a type of calculated column that generates a grade based on the cumulative points earned, related to the points allowed. You can select which columns and categories are included in a total column’s calculation.

Weighted Column – The weighted column is a type of calculated column that generates a grade based on the result of selected columns and categories, and their respective percentages. By default, a Weighted Column is in every course. You can select individual columns or Columns by Category. Following is a typical formula used when calculating based on category. The instructor will have control of the categories used and the percentage of each category.

(Tests = 40%) + (Assignments = 40%) + (Participation = 20%) = (Final Grade)


Written by Dr. Sherri E. Ritter

May 30, 2016 at 9:00 am

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