Students hoping for a better grade regularly contact me after the term is over and insist that the Grade Center in Blackboard has miscalculated their final course grade. Oftentimes these emails are accompanied by elaborate mathematical calculations I don’t understand because I’m not a mathematician.

Luckily, I don’t have to be a mathematician. Where students get confused is the total of points listed by Blackboard. If I could turn this off I would, but apparently I can’t. In my classes total points are irrelevant because I “weigh” each course element. Yes, each element is worth a total of 100 points, but each is weighted differently.

For example, let’s say class participation and your final exam are each worth 100 points, but participation is worth only 10% of your grade while your final is worth 20%. Obviously, this has to mean that your final exam is worth more than your participation grade. So focusing on your total points while taking no account of how each element is weighted can’t help but lead to confusion. This is why the running weighted total is the basis for your final course grade, and *not* total points.

Now students might well claim that I might have set up the Blackboard Grade Center wrong. Of course this is a possibility, because I’m only human. But Blackboard has this neat feature called “student preview,” which allows me to see the course as the student sees it. This opens up a space for me in the Grade Center, and to test to make sure I inputted all of the weighing numbers correctly, I give myself 100 for each course element. If my running weighted total comes out to 100, I know the data is correct; this, by extension, tells me that the running weighted total for each student is correct, since it’s the same data in the same formula for everyone listed in the Grade Center.

This leaves the possibility of me either inputting a wrong grade or making a mistake in transferring a course grade into TitanConnect at the end of the term, which are data entry errors that are easy to fix. It’s also possible that I graded an essay question or paper too harshly, and I’m always glad to take another look at the assignment in such instances. In conclusion, if I change a student’s grade after the semester is over it’s due to these kinds of mistakes, and *not* a flaw in the Blackboard Grade Center.

© D. R. Koukal