Assessment Tips

Blackboard supports several gradable options:

  • An assessment can be any kind of test, quiz, exam, etc. It can be standardized or not as well as timed or not.
  • An assignment is a virtual dropbox for students to submit essays, homework, labs, 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

  • Consider how you can leverage technology to offer assessments online.
  • Academic continuity may require adjusting deadlines for one, some, many or all students on your course.
  • Remember: Students may struggle with time management or their own emotional responses to disasters they are 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 VoiceThread, Panopto, CourseArc, and publisher integrations (Pearson, Cengage, McGraw-Hill, Wiley, etc.).
  • SafeAssign may be used on assignments or test essay questions to determine the originality of student work.

Giving tests online:

  • Use questions pools (Ultra) 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.

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:

  • Panopto, Collaborate, and VoiceThread 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.
  • Google Assignments allow faculty to distribute assignment templates for graded activities and provide feedback during creation or after submission with reusable comment banks.

Best practices:

  • Deploy short quizzes to let students practice skills, demonstrate knowledge, or apply concepts.
  • Low-stakes assessments hold students accountable, but shouldn’t overwhelm students with point accumulation.
  • 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