Grading Options

Blackboard supports several gradable options

  • An assessment can be any kind of test, quiz, exam, etc. It can be timed or not.
  • An assignment is a virtual submission box for students to submit essays, homework, lab reports, etc.
  • A discussion is a place where you and students can interact with each other on a common or open-ended topic.

Flexibility is important

  • Think about how you can use the technology the college provides to offer assessments online.
  • You may need to adjust deadlines for one, some, many or all students and assignments in your course.
  • Remember: Students may struggle with time management or their own emotional responses to illness or disaster they may be currently experiencing or have just experienced (Gravenberg, Carey-Butler, & Horowitz, 2008).

Preparing to use Blackboard for assessment

  • If you give paper exams, consider posting a low-stakes quiz in Blackboard to give you and your students some practice using the online test tool.
  • If you assign papers or other written work in your class, post a practice assignment in Blackboard to provide you and your students with an opportunity to use this tool.
  • Some third-party tools may also link to the Blackboard gradebook: These include ZoomPanopto, TurnItIn and publisher integrations (Pearson, Cengage, McGraw-Hill, Wiley, etc.). These are accessed through Blackboard.
  • Other options that will let you grade but do not align with the grade book include, OneNote Class Notebook and FlipGrid. OneNote and FlipGrid are already part of the Microsoft Office Suite provided to both you and your students.
  • SafeAssign or TurnItIn may be used on assignments or test essay questions to determine the originality of student work.

Giving tests online

  • Use questions pools  and random blocks (Original) in Blackboard tests to create unique tests for each student.
  • Consider using Respondus Lockdown Browser for high-stakes assessments. RLDB is a custom browser that secures down the testing environment within Blackboard. Students are unable to print, copy, go to another URL, or access other applications. Once the assessment is started, students are locked into it until they submit it for grading.
    • Respondus Monitor is used in coordination with the RLDB and   makes the exam setting even more secure. It will record using the student’s webcam during the test. This feature requires the use of a web-camera. It uses AI to flag situations where it recognizes that students are doing something abnormal, such as looking at notes, their phone, talking to someone else in the room, or leaving the exam.
      This option works best with Blackboard tests that use multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, calculated questions, matching, and short answer questions.

Grading online

  • Use a rubric with assignments to easily apply consistent grading.
  • Embed feedback on student submissions with digital notes or record an audio comment for up to five minutes.

Other options

  • OneNotePanopto, and Zoom are great alternatives to class presentations and group work, allowing students to narrate their slide decks and demonstrations. Post links to discussion forums where peers can provide feedback and ask questions.
  • Blackboard or OneDrive allow faculty to distribute assignment templates for graded activities and provide feedback during creation or after submission with reusable comment banks.

Best practices

  • Create short quizzes to let students practice skills, demonstrate knowledge, or apply concepts before they have to take a unit or midterm exam.
  • Giving students low-stakes tests lets students become accountable for online testing, but doesn’t overwhelm them with a large accumulation of points.
  • Alternatively, consider open-book exams with authentic scenarios for students to respond to in long-form. These do need additional grading, but require students to apply knowledge and skills.


Gravenberg, E. V., Carey-Butler, S. R., & Horowitz, R. (2008). Learning from disaster: The lessons of Hurricane Katrina. Fairfax, VA: United Negro College Fund Institute for Capacity Building. Retrieved from