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Assessing Student Learning in Blackboard

Assessment of learning has traditionally taken several forms; traditional tests, papers, projects, and in-class participation. In the online environment new tools to assess learning have appeared; wikis, blogs, journals, discussion participation, online tests, self and peer assessment tools, and portfolios. In addition to the format of assessment, instructors use tools such as rubrics to assess and grade assignments. Blackboard has most of these tools integrated into the system. Having tools integrated into the system means student work can be assessed and graded with grade entry happening once - in the grading interface - with grades flowing into the grade center and grade calculations, to the student My Grades tool, to the retention center and performance dashboard.


Assignments in Blackboard are content items associated with specific workflows internal to Blackboard. All submitted materials and grading occurs in Blackboard. Assignments can be created for individuals and groups. Options in assignments include setting the number of attempts, anonymous and delegated grading, use of plagiarism detection tools, in addition to the standard due date.

Tests and Surveys

Tests are similar to assignments in that when created a column is created in the Grade Center. Unlike assignments, tests can be automatically graded if the question types allow. Surveys are like tests except they are not graded. No credit is assigned but instructors can see whether students complete the survey. Both tests and surveys can be created from question pools or prior tests or survey.


Rubrics can be used in multiple ways in your Blackboard course. When made available to students as part of an assignment, they can see what is expected of them. When used for grading, rubrics ensure consistency in grading across all students.


Blackboard has tools that allow you to track student performance. In the control panel under Evaluation, you'll find Course Reports, Performance Dashboard and Retention Center.

Course Reports are prepackaged reports you can run to examine student activity in your course. There are reports that look at activity in groups and forums as well as ones that look at the use of content. Of particular interest is the Single Course User Participation report, which lists each student and their most recent activity in the course blogs, discussions, and assignment submissions. This can be a useful report for determining last interaction with the course for the purposes of attendance. Other reports can provide insight into what portions of your Blackboard course site are attracting student activity and which may need to be updated due to lack of activity.

The Performance Dashboard provides a snapshot of what students are doing. This report lists all the students and how long since they last accessed the course, how many items with review status have been viewed, how many discussion posts they've made, what adaptive released content they are able to view, as well as whether the student has been flagged with alerts in the Retention Center.

The Retention Center is a tool that instructors can customize to alert them to students who may be struggling in the course. Rules can be customized to alert instructors to students who are not attending class, whose grades are below a certain threshold, or who have missed deadlines. 

Resources for using the Evaluation tools in Blackboard:

Additional Integrated Tools Allowing Grading

  • NuVu
  • Publisher Building Blocks
    • Cengage
    • McGraw-Hill
    • Pearson
  • Turnitin
  • Panopto
  • iClicker
  • VoiceThread