Understanding Weighted Grades in Blackboard

You can set your course grade to be weighted based on categories and/or individual assignments.  Categories group the different types of assignments.  You can then assign a percentage weight to each category or assignment.  When a category is used, the individual assignments in the category are weighted equally.  For example, if you have 5 discussion forums and this represents 20% of the grade, each forum is worth 4% of the grade.  It is only when you want the individual assignments within a category to be weighted differently will you weight each assignment rather than the category.  In terms of the calculations to confirm the weighted grade, the fewer number of weights, the easier the calculation.

For example, in your syllabus, you may have discussion forums worth 20%, papers worth 40%, a midterm exam worth 20%, and the final exam worth 20%.  These are your categories: discussion forums and papers.  The midterm exam and final exam are weighted as individual assignments.   When you create your forum and paper assignments, assign each to the appropriate category.  Set up the correct weights in the weighted column in the Blackboard Grade Center and it will automatically calculate the weighted total.  If this column does not exist, consult your APM to have it created.

Sometimes, it may appear when you look at the points and the weighted column value that the weighted value does not reflect the points accurately.  This is entirely due to the assignment of the weights.  You cannot add up earned points and divide by total points to get this value.  Weighted grades have to take into consideration the weights of each category.

This is how the weighted grade is calculated to arrive at a final percentage.

For each category, add up the total points earned and the total possible points.  Since not all assignments in the category may be completed, only include the ones that have scores, including assignments for which the earned grade is zero (any ungraded assignments will not have a numerical score).  Divide total points earned by total possible points and multiply by the percentage value.  This gives you the number of percentage points that this category contributes to the final grade.

For example, using a forums category, a student may have earned 25 points out of a possible 30 points.  The category is worth 20% of the grade.  The calculation becomes (25/30) x 20 = 16.67.  This means that the student earned 16.67 out of the possible 20 percentage points.

To calculate an interim grade comprised of some but not all of the categories, you must calculate the points that the student earned in each category involved.  Add them up then multiply by the result of 100 divided by the total percentage points involved.

For example, assume the student earned 16.67 points for forums weighted at 20% and 25 points for papers weighted at 30%.  Adding these points together, you get 41.67.  Since this is 50% of the final grade, we have to multiply this 41.67 by two to get a grade out of 100.  Therefore the calculation becomes (16.67+25) x (100/50) = 83.34.

To arrive at the final grade, calculate the points earned by the student in each category and add them all up.  That will give you the final percentage out of 100.  No further calculation is required.

You can see that using weights makes the calculation of the interim or final percentage grade more complicated and requires some work to verify that the percentage is correct.  However, it can allow for a fairer grade for the student based on weighing the effort/importance on each type of assignment.

Online Discussion Participation

To get the most of an online discussion, there are things that the instructor needs to do and there are guidelines for the participant as well.  Here is a short yet informative list of guidelines to use when participating in an online discussion forum.  I particularly like the one about jotting down notes as you read other posts so you can prepare better for your responses.