Help Your Students Develop Personal Responsibility – with Tools You Already Use

The ability for students to benchmark their performance against that of their peers can lead to greater self-awareness, increased effort, and personal achievement. A Blackboard Blog post highlights the use of a tool developed by the University of Maryland Baltimore County. The tool, called Check My Activity, is intended to encourage students’ personal responsibility for learning by allowing them to compare their own level of Blackboard activity with that of their peers. What if it were possible to improve the student experience and increase personal responsibility by doing almost exactly what you do right now without any new tools at all?

“Professors should…use Blackboard in order to help students remain up to date on their grades and assignments.”

“It is very difficult for a student to keep track of his or her grades especially when they are not able to these grades during the semester to find areas of improvement.”

“I’d like to be able to follow my grades online throughout the semester. I feel like that’s a huge step back from high school since I could always go online and see where I’m at.“

“I really like being able to see my grades throughout the semester.“

– Anonymous Student Survey Respondents

These quotes were taken from the Saint Rose Student Technology Survey in 2016. Our students place a great deal of value in being able to access their grades, and Blackboard’s Grade Center allows you to manage your grade book in a way that allows students to regularly and formatively evaluate their own performance. The survey found that 91% of Saint Rose students use Blackboard and 75% of Saint Rose students feel that Blackboard contributes to their success in class.

The University of Michigan undertook a study designed to investigate student-facing dashboards in a learning management system and the impact on students of varying GPA and activity levels. They found that low GPA students could be motivated to become more responsible for their learning through the use of learning management system (like Blackboard) dashboards. But you don’t need a new, complex tool to send notifications to your students’ phones when they aren’t doing well. You can simply make use of Blackboard’s Grade Center to help your students take charge of their own learning. The Grade Center allows instructors to show assignment averages and medians to students using the Show Grade Statistics feature.

To enable Show Grade Statistics for a new grade column:

While setting up the grade column through the Create Grade Column menu, scroll down to the Options section and make sure Show Statistics is enabled.

The Options section in the Create or Edit Grade Column menu, where the Show Statistics checkbox is located.

To enable Show Grade Statistics for an existing grade column:

In the Full Grade Center, click the chevron to the right of the column you want to show statistics for. Choose Edit Column Information.

The Edit Column Information in the drop-down menu in Full Grade Center.




In the following menu, scroll down to the Options section and make sure Show Statistics is enabled.












Student grade with the class average and median shown beneath it.


When your students access the My Grades screen, they’ll see their grade above the class average and median for that test or assignment.





Using the Blackboard Grade Center can seem a little daunting, but it is no more difficult than a standard Excel worksheet once it’s set up. Most importantly, it fills a need that your students are already asking for (and are used to from high school!) because it is more than an Excel worksheet – it’s also a feedback tool. Exposing grade statistics can help your students understand their grades in context and foster a sense of responsibility for their own learning.

Online Learning Services is happy to make an appointment with you to set up your Blackboard Grade Center, should you need help!