Basics of Grading in Brightspace

Grading is used to provide feedback and evaluate student work. Instructors communicate to students about their performance, where they need more help to achieve the course's goals and highlight progress through grades on assignments and assessments. However, effective feedback and grading is not possible without a well thought-out grading scheme. This page provides information on how to use the Brightspace Grades Tool and Setup Wizard to ensure your course has a solid grading system in place. 

On this page:

Grading Features

The grade book in Brightspace shares many similar functions as the Grade Center in Blackboard. However, the biggest difference is in Brightspace you must first use the Grades Setup Wizard. This process is helpful to help align and plan how grades will be categorized and allocated in the system.

Create Your Grade Book: Grades Setup Wizard

The Setup Wizard is the feature that will guide you through the process of setting up your grade book in Brightspace. When you open the Grades Tool for the first time, you will click on the Setup Wizard tab to get started.

Grade Assignments with the Grades Tool

The Grades Tool in Brightspace is equivalent to the Grade Center in Blackboard.  You will use the Grades Tool in Course Admin to set up your grade book with assignments, tests and other graded activities, and to evaluate your students' work when submitted. 

Grade items can also be created for activities that do not include a submission, such as class attendance, in-class presentations, group discussions, etc. To create assessments that utilize submissions, please visit Creating Activities and Assessments

Grade Scheme

The Grade Scheme is how a student’s achievement is represented on individual grade items and holistically for overall performance.  This can be represented as a percentage score (e.g., 85.0%), pass/fail, complete/incomplete, as a letter grade (e.g., B) or other such formats.  The university uses a standard grade scheme, which will be the default in Brightspace just as it has been in Blackboard, however you and your department will need to decide the criteria to meet the desired schema. The schema can be allocated to specific items or the course overall if your course, depending on the grade scheme selected.

For more information about fair and equitable grading practices at UB, see Explanation of Grades.

Grades Category

Assessments can be grouped into categories of like requirements. For example, grade items that require submitted written work can be grouped into a Grade Category called Assignments. Discrete quizzes can be grouped into a category called Quizzes. This functionality is helpful when using a weighted grading system. It also allows total weight or points for a grade category to be easily distributed across all grade items in that category.  To create grade categories:

  1. On the navbar, click Grades
  2. Click Manage Grades.
  3. Click on New and select Category.
  4. Give your category a name and select the options that are relevant for the category.
  5. Click Save and Close.

Grade Items

Grade items are activities you are using to measure your students’ progress in your class (known as assessments in Blackboard). These include assignments, quizzes and discussions, as well as those activities that do not require a submission such as attendance, participation, in-class exams, etc. 

For more detailed information about creating grade items, please see Quizzes in Brightspace or Assignments in Brightspace.

Brightspace categorizes grade items by the way that a grade or score is assigned. Grade Item Types represent the six approaches to scoring grade items in Brightspace.

Extra Credit and Bonus Grade Items

At times, you may want to provide extra credit work for students that will provide bonus points on top of the points they earn from regular grade items, allowing a grade to exceed 100%. These grade items must be given a numeric score. In this case, when you are creating a new grade item in the Manage Grades tab, you can choose from two checkboxes: Can Exceed or Bonus. There are some cautions when using these grade items:

  • These can only be scored as numeric items.
  • These items do not update the final grade until all other grade items have been compiled.
  • To allow extra credit on a standard assignment, select Can Exceed.
  • An item specifically given as an extra credit assignment is called a Bonus Grade Item – all points given are treated as extra credit. Using a Bonus Item will allow students to earn extra points without changing the final calculated grade. Bonus items will have a star next to their name in the grade book.

Additional Resources