Using Rubrics in Blackboard

Grading in Blackboard can certainly be a chore.

Did you know that you can set up and use rubrics while grading almost any kind of gradable assignment in Blackboard? And you can use the same rubric for multiple assignments? If you teach a class (or classes) where you use several similar writing assignments or discussion boards, you can create a single rubric in Blackboard, attach it to each of those assignments, and use it to grade more easily and more clearly.

Why Use Rubrics?

There are a lot of benefits to using rubrics for grading. Dr. Drey Martone, Assistant Professor of Teacher Education at the College, provided us with a great summary of why rubrics can help instructors, both inside and outside of Blackboard:

“Rubrics are an essential tool to clearly demonstrate the qualities and levels of performance expected from students on an assignment. The goal is to have each aspect of the assignment as a row in the rubric to show the criteria that will be evaluated. Delineating the criteria (e.g. content understanding, application of ideas, synthesis of research, writing style) helps students to be able to clearly see the specific thinking required for the assignment. Providing descriptors per level of performance then allows students to see areas where they are strong and areas to address per each criterion. Students greatly appreciate seeing rubrics in advance of completing the aligned assignment so the expectations are clear. Anchor assignments (e.g. sample papers) per performance level can also help to clarify the range of performance. We often use the anchor papers to discuss what needs to be added to a paper in each dimension to augment the level of performance. Rubrics take time to create but, when thoughtfully done, they expedite the grading process as the feedback you might provide is encapsulated in the descriptors. I often also have students use the rubric to self-assess their work upon submission to show they have fully thought through each aspect of the assignment. Additionally, if a rubric is used for the same assignment across multiple points in the semester (e.g. a reading response rubric) the students can see their progress for each criterion. Rubrics allow students to analyze their assessment results to inform the next steps in their own learning. I find rubric creation, introduction, and application can greatly enhance an assignment from both the instructor and student perspective.”

How to Use Rubrics in Blackboard

Setting up rubrics and attaching them to assignments is straightforward in Blackboard.

location of rubrics in course tools

You can find Rubrics in the Course Tools menu.

Go to the Rubrics tool in the Course Tools menu. You’ll find any rubrics already in your class on this page, and you can edit and delete from here. For now we’re going to Create Rubric to create a new one. Like many pages on Blackboard, you’ll start by entering the name and any description you want to enter. From there, you can begin to set up the rubric itself.

 

Image of the rubric screen on Blackboard

There are many options to customize rubrics to fit your grading.

 

There are many, many options for your rubrics on this page, and I encourage you to explore them all. For now, let’s review the basics.

  • First, at the top, set the type of rubric you want to use.
    • No Points: Feedback only.
    • Points: Single point value for each Level of Achievement.
    • Point Range: Range of values for each Level of Achievement.
    • Percent: Flexible depending on each assignment’s possible points.
    • Percent Range: Range of values for each Level of Achievement. During the grading process, you select the appropriate percentage level for a particular Level of Achievement and the system calculates the points earned by multiplying the weight x achievement percentage x item points.
  • Once you’ve chosen the type of rubric, you can change the numbers of rows and columns you’d like to use. You can add rows and columns with the buttons at the top.  You can delete rows and columns individually by clicking on the gray arrow next to their title.
  • You can change the name of the rows and columns by clicking on that same gray arrow and choosing Edit.
  • Once you’ve set up the structure, you can begin entering the percentages/scores and descriptions as needed. Each cell has a 1,000-character limit. PLEASE NOTE: I would strongly recommend typing your descriptions in another document such as Word or Notepad and copy-pasting them into Blackboard. The page does not continually save and if your browser crashes or your network times out you will lose the work you’ve done.

This is just a broad overview of how rubrics work in Blackboard. If you have specific questions or problems, please do contact us.

Existing Rubrics for Blackboard

As you might have noticed, there’s an Import option on the main Rubrics page in Blackboard. Blackboard does make available some of their best rubrics online. You can find and download them here. Starting with an existing rubric may be the best way to dip your toes into using them in Blackboard.

Linking a Rubric to a Discussion

location of rubrics on discussion settings page

When you enable grading on a discussion forum and specify points, you can choose to add a rubric and select one to use for grading.

Adding a rubric to grade a discussion requires two steps – first, choose the radio button next to Grade Discussion Forum and enter the points possible for this discussion. Then click Add Rubric to select a rubric. By selecting a rubric, you can choose further options. The most important option is the last one listed to the right, Show Rubric To Students. By default, this is set to No. If you are using the Rubric as a feedback and teaching tool, I encourage you to change this to either Yes (Without Rubric Scores) or Yes (With Rubric Scores).

Linking a Rubric to an Assignment

location of rubrics under assignment settings

After specifying the points on an assignment, you can choose to add a rubric for grading.

Adding a rubric to an Assignment is one extra step. After entering your points, click Add Rubric to select a rubric. By selecting a rubric, you can choose further options. The most important option is the last one listed to the right, Show Rubric To Students. By default, this is set to No. If you are using the Rubric as a feedback and teaching tool, I encourage you to change this to either Yes (Without Rubric Scores) or Yes (With Rubric Scores).

 

Rubrics are a helpful and effective tool in teaching both online and in the classroom. While their set up can be tedious, their rewards are great and in Blackboard, they can follow you between classes and assignments so that one rubric can be used for a variety of courses and assignments.

If you’re interested in talking about rubrics, please contact us!