Team-teaching Means Team-grading

By J. Todd

One of the challenges of team-teaching is the grading. Grading is always a problem, as far as many of us are concerned, but it creates unique issues when more than one faculty member is teaching the class. When you look at the literature about better practices for team-teaching, always included is the very strong advice that grading practices and grading responsibilities be clearly agreed upon and established early on — before the class ever meets. Blackboard has made this challenge more manageable with their new Delegated Grading option.

Blackboard now has a function called Delegated Grading that allows for multiple graders on a given assignment. Delegated Grading only works on actual Blackboard Assignments, much like the Inline Grading function Blackboard introduced last year. (In other words, it doesn't work for other native Blackboard tools like Blogs, Journals, or Tests; nor does it work on third-party tools like TurnItIn.) When you create or edit a Blackboard Assignment, you can turn on the Delegated Grading option. This provides a number of options — Delegated Grading really seems to be designed for faculty with large classes and teaching assistants — but those options make it possible to use online some of the different team-grading methods. You could, for example, simply divide up the workload, either by assigning certain students to certain faculty members or by having Blackboard make the assignments randomly. Or you can each grade the same assignment and give it the average grade.

Using Delegated Grading to Collaboratively Grade Online

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Setting up Delegated Grading in the Create/Edit Assignment page.

My interest is in how two (or more) faculty members can each grade and comment upon an assignment. Delegated Grading allows for that option as well. You can see here how we set it up for the Graphic Novel and Social Justice class I taught last fall with a colleague from the Art Department. This allows for fully collaborative grading, even though our offices are on opposite ends of the campus and our schedules rarely synchronize.

After our students submitted their final projects (some really great short comics tackling complex issues of injustice), my teaching partner and I were able to log into Blackboard in our own time to grade each student's assignment on our own. The only difference was that whoever graded second could see what the first grader did. We used a rubric for this assignment, so I could see how he ranked each rubric criterion, any comments he made, and the final grade he awarded the assignment. I was able to do all that, too, without any limitations.

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Information available when reconciling an assignment grade. Additional feedback can also be entered at this point, perhaps a good time to explain how the grade was reconciled, if you haven't done that already.

Blackboard's Reconcile Grades function doesn't do anything itself, which is good. Instead it gives you the option to enter one final grade. It does list for you the average grade, the lowest grade, and the highest grade. It's up to you and your teaching partner(s) to decide how to reconcile any differences. Again, it's best to decide this ahead of time — best, probably, to explain to the students how you will do this. We decided to average our differences.

What's nice is that while the student will be given that one reconciled grade, she will also be able to see how each of us actually graded the assignment, as well as the comments each of us wrote. This, though, only applies if you have the option set to show students the rubric grades (you can change this too on the Create/Edit Assignment page). Even for the students whose grades didn't need to be reconciled (about half of ours were awarded the same grade by both of us), any differences in the way we each applied the rubric to their work is visible, and as I said, they can see any comments we've entered.

Overall, it's a nice system that makes team-teaching and team-grading easier to manage. It is limited to Blackboard Assignments, though, so if you prefer to assign Blogs or Journals or TurnItIn assignment, you can't use it.

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