Anonymous and delegated grading

Options for anonymous and delegated grading exist for Blackboard assignments, but both have serious flaws and unexpected outcomes. More importantly, diagnosing problems is very difficult, as the view of a subject will vary per individual, not per staff role (the usual case with other LMS options).

We strongly recommend that you DO NOT use anonymous and delegated grading options.

If you want to use Anonymous and Delegated Grading regardless, please submit a support request for further advice.

The information below is provided for those who wish to proceed despite recommendations.

Anonymous Grading

Anonymous Grading allows a staff member marking a Blackboard assignment to opt not to see student names associated with the submissions they are marking.

Anonymous Grading can be selected by subject coordinators when the assignment is initially created, or activated afterwards; tutors and designers are not able to select this option. Once a submission has been made to an assignment, Anonymous Grading may no longer be turned on or reactivated for that assignment.

Staff mark Anonymous Grading assignments via Grade Centre >> Needs Grading or the Grade Attempts option under the Grade Centre column title.

Staff can choose to turn off Anonymous Grading at any time by editing the assignment and deselecting the Anonymous Grading check-box. Anonymity can be set to be automatically deactivated on a specific date or once all submissions have been graded. This latter option is not recommended, since if any single student fails to submit, the requirement to have all submissions graded cannot be met, resulting in the assignment never switching off Anonymous Grading.

Note: There will be a system generated reminder for students that Anonymous Grading has been activated for a particular assignment, however it is a good idea to remind students that they should not include their name or identifying data anywhere on the submitted document.

Why would you want it?

The Anonymous Grading option is used in cases where markers should not know the identity of the students they are marking.

Known issues

The automatic ‘off’ options for Anonymous Grading do not work consistently. The feature will often need to be manually turned off in the settings of the assignment when anonymity is no longer required.

Set up an Anonymous Grading assignment

The following instructions are brief and focus on the Anonymous grading option available for Blackboard assignments. Full instructions on setting up a Blackboard assignment can be found in the Blackboard Assignments guide.

  1. Navigate to the page in your subject where you wish to create an assignment.
  2. Ensure Edit Mode is ON.
Edit Mode on button
Edit Mode on button
  1. From Assessments select Assignment.
  2. Enter a name, instructions, attach files, set a due date and the points possible as required.
  3. Submission Details determines whether the assignment is to be submitted individually, by group or for a portfolio, and whether students are allowed one or multiple attempts.
  4. From Grading Options, select Enable Anonymous Grading.
  5. Select the conditions to Disable Anonymous Grading:
    1. After all submissions are graded – This option is not recommended as lack of submission by any student (including a student preview account) will prevent the assignment from automatically disabling the anonymous option.
    2. On a specific date – This option disables Anonymous Grading after the specified date.
  6. Display of Grades allows control over options for Grade Centre column appearance, whether to include the column in Grade Centre calculations, student visibility and statistics. 
  7. Ensure Availability is checked to allow students to see and submit to the assignment. Choose limiting dates if desired.
  8. Submit.

What students see

Submitting to the assignment

When students submit a document to an assignment where Anonymous Grading is being used, they will be warned by the system not to include identifying information in the submission.

Anonymous grading message visible to students when submitting
Anonymous grading message visible to students when submitting

Reviewing feedback

Assignments that have been graded anonymously will display an additional icon so that students know that this has happened.

Anonymous grading icon
Anonymous grading icon

Within My Grades:

Indication that the assignment was graded anonymously (visible in My Grades)
Indication that the assignment was graded anonymously (visible in My Grades)

Within the assignment:

Indication that the assignment was graded anonymously (visible via assignment)
Indication that the assignment was graded anonymously (visible via assignment)

What staff see

When staff go into the Grade Centre to view an assignment where Anonymous Grading is being used, they will not be able to tell which students have submitted to the assignment. Each student’s cell will be greyed out; whether they have submitted or not; and individual's attempts cannot be  opened by clicking a cell.

Anonymous graded assignment when viewed from grade centre
Anonymous graded assignment when viewed from Grade Centre

Instead, to grade student attempts, staff can:

  • Click the down arrow next to the Blackboard assignment column title and select Grade Attempts; OR
  • Select Control Panel >> Grade Centre >> Needs Grading and click the User Attempt to be marked.

In both cases, the submission and all grading options will appear as normal, while any identifying information about the student information will not be available.

Anonymous submission when being graded
Anonymous submission when being graded

Even after a student’s paper has been graded, it will appear as greyed out in the Grade Centre. Only when Anonymous Grading is turned off will the grades become visible in the Grade Centre and the students who have not submitted will become obvious.

Turning off Anonymous Grading

Anonymous Grading may be turned off at any time by editing the assignment and deselecting the relevant option.

On specific date

This option turns off Anonymous Grading after a specified date.

After all submissions are graded

This option is not recommended as lack of a submission by any student (including a student preview account) will prevent the assignment from automatically switching off the anonymous option.

Note that when Anonymous Grading is turned on, it is not possible to delete an attempt for an individual student in the case where they may have submitted the wrong document. Allowing an additional attempt is one workaround, however this then means that all students will be allowed a second attempt, not just the student in question.

Delegated Grading

Delegated grading allows you to select the staff who will grade the assignment, and whether they will grade all students, a group of students, or a random selection of students. Once marking has taken place, the grades must be reconciled by a coordinator before they will be available to students.

Known issues

There are several serious known issues affecting the use of Delegated Grading. The most important is that a grade and feedback may not be entered for a student who did not submit an assignment, which can be a problem in the case where the assessment is a performance/presentation. Most other issues occur around the distribution option of a random set. Students who have not submitted remain included in the allocation, meaning that some graders may have fewer submissions to mark. Group or all distribution options appear less troublesome. There is also often a significant delay before assignment allocations come through to the graders (several hours or overnight in most cases).

Why would you want it?

Delegated Grading allows staff to be allocated the members of multiple groups for marking even if those groups have not been set up as smart views. The feature also allows multiple markers to grade all assignments and then for one person to review all grades and make the decision about the final grade.

Set up Delegated Grading

The following instructions are brief and focus on the Delegated Grading option available for Blackboard assignments. Detailed instructions on setting up a Blackboard assignment can be found in the Blackboard Assignments guide.

  1. Navigate to the page in your subject where you wish to create an assignment.
  2. Ensure Edit Mode is ON.
Edit Mode on button
Edit Mode on button
  1. From Assessments select Assignment.
  2. Enter a name, instructions, attach files, set a due date and the points possible as required.
  3. Submission Details determines whether the assignment is to be submitted individually, by group or for a portfolio, and whether students are allowed one or multiple attempts.
  4. From Grading Options, select Enable Delegated Grading. The default Show option will display all staff in the subject. Coordinators will be set by default to grade All Submissions, Tutors will be set by default to grade None.
  5. Change Submissions to Grade as needed from: None, All, Random Set and Groups. (Group will prompt you to select the group names for this staff member to mark. Random Set will allow the allocation of a number of students to a particular marker.)
  6. By default, all staff with a coordinator role may view other graders’ scores, feedback, notes and reconcile grades. For other staff with other roles, this option may be selected in View Settings as per the image below.
Delegated grading showing random sets of students being selected for two staff members
Delegated grading showing random sets of students being selected for two staff members
  1. Display of Grades allows control over options for Grade Centre column appearance, whether to include a column in Grade Centre calculations, student visibility and statistics.
  2. Ensure Availability is selected to let students see the assignment on the page. Choose limiting dates if desired.
  3. Submit.

What students see

As far as students are concerned they see nothing other than a standard Blackboard assignment.

What staff see

When staff go to Needs Grading or Full Grade Centre, they will only see Needs Grading indicators next to the assignments that they have been assigned to mark. Other students will appear as if there is no submission. When a submission is marked it will show a reconcile grades icon to any user with a coordinator role.

Reconcile grades icon
Reconcile grades icon

The exception to this is if the coordinator is also supposed to mark the submission and has not yet done so, in which case it will still show as Needs Grading.

If the submission was marked by a tutor/marker, it is also visible to them with a Reconcile Grades icon, but they are not able to complete the reconcile step.

Reconcile Grades

After delegated graders have done their marking, the grades must be reconciled by a Subject Coordinator before they become visible in the Grade Centre and to students.

  1. Open the Grade Centre.
  2. Navigate to the top of the column that needs to be reconciled.
  3. From the column title select Reconcile Grades.
  4. All students who have made submissions appear, regardless of whether the delegated staff have graded their attempt.
Reconcile grades showing two students, their marks and options to enter a final grade
Reconcile grades showing two students, their marks and options to enter a final grade
  1. Click in the Final Grade column for a student to see the highest, lowest and average of all grades given for this submission.
  2. Enter a grade in the cell and press enter on your keyboard to reconcile the grade for this student.

Note: A final grade may be entered at the reconciliation stage, even if the submission was not marked by a grader.

Which graders have marked?

When a grader has marked a submission, the grade and a bubble comment icon appears below their name.

When a grader has not yet marked a submission, a dash appears below their name.

Two students, one graded, the other yet to be graded
Two students, one graded, the other yet to be graded

To see a summary of marker progress you can click the Show Marker Progress button.

Marker progress as a table (shown as a single row of information)
Marker progress as a table (shown as a single row of information)

Information may be displayed as a table (rows):

Marker progress as a table (shown as a single row of information)
Marker progress as a table (shown as a single row of information)

Or as a card:

Marker progress shown as a card with option to email (because the grader has not yet finished)
Marker progress shown as a card with option to email (because the grader has not yet finished)

Markers who have not yet completed their marking may be sent email from these views.

Additional information

If you put your cursor on a student row, options appear to see a detailed view of the submission (next to student name) grading and to add graders (in the graders column).

Detailed view of submission optionAdd graders option
Options to see a detailed view of a submission, and to add graders

Detailed view shows grades and comments from each marker for this student and allows you to view the student submission, enter the final grade and switch between viewing details of other students.

Detailed view of one student showing marker grade and feedback and option to view submission and enter a final grade
Detailed view of one student showing marker grade and feedback and option to view submission and enter a final grade

Add graders allows adding additional staff members to mark a submission. Select the desired person/people from the Possible Graders option and Submit.

Note: There is currently a known issue affecting reconciling grades where if staff are selected to mark after  student submissions have been made, they will not receive notification via Needs Grading.

Can I use Anonymous and Delegated Grading together?

The short answer is yes.

The longer answer is, please consider carefully before selecting these features. Both options have serious issues. Combining the two options may have as yet undiscovered results.

This guide was last updated 11 Jan 2017.
Report any errors or omissions in this guide to lms-guides@lists.unimelb.edu.au

Print this guide