Blackboard "Assignments"

What is a Blackboard "Assignment"?

A Blackboard "Assignment" is a particular tool you can use for any assessment that asks the students to turn in one of more files. Examples would be Word documents, Spreadsheets, Images, etc. The assignment files are shared only between the individual student and the instructor. If you want to have students view or discuss each other's work you would have them attach files in a Discussion Board forum or create a shared Blog or Wiki.

 Move your mouse cursor over the colored tabs below to see the steps involved in using the Assignment Tool.


Creating a Blackboard "Assignment"

Assignments are posted (or deployed) in any Content Area. This can be a content area accessed directly from the course menu or can be inside any folder or sub-folder. At the top of any content area you'll see these buttons (or similar ones depending on the version of Blackboard). You'll use the button "Assessments"

 Assessments Menu

Choose "Assignment" for the type of assessment.

Choose Assignment from the Assessment menu.

Adding Instructions

  1. Give your Assignment a Name - this will appear as a heading in the Grade Center so keep the name short and make the first part distinctive (e.g., Unit 2 Paper instead of "Click here to turn in your Unit 2 Paper").
  2. Instructions can be typed in the text box - these appear both below the link to the Assignment and inside the Assignment
  3. You can attach one or more files. Click on "Browse Your Computer" for each file you want to upload and attach. (Browse Course lets you attach previously uploaded files.)

Create an Assignment

Setting Options

Only the options or fields which have asterisks next to them are required. These are some of the most commonly used options.

  1. You must assign points. You can assign zero points if you like
  2. The box "Make Assignments Available" is checked by default - it must REMAIN CHECKED if you decide to limit availability by date. Unchecking this box means the Assignment will NEVER be available even if dates are chosen.
  3. Allow single attempt means the student can only submit file(s) once - they can submit multiple files in one attempt, however. You will get the option (in the grade center) of allowing additional attempts (re-submission) on a case-by-case basis.
  4. To make the Assignment available but date limited - leave the "Make Assignments Available" box checked, then check the boxes next to Display After and/or Display Until and select dates and times.
  5. The due date is optional - it sets a due date but does not enforce it. The due date will appear in the Blackboard Calendar and the students' view of the gradecenter. To enforce a due date the assignment needs to be made unavailable.


Screenshot of Assignment Optons

 Toggle open/close quiz question


Student's View of the Assignment

Once you've created the Assignment, you can preview it and see essentially what the student sees.

The student sees the Assignment in the content area where it is posted (deployed) and clicks on the link to open it.

 Students View of Assignment

Students Submit Assignments

Once the Assignment is "opened" the students sees

  1. Assignment Information
  2. A button to "Write Submission" - this will open a text editing box which includes the ability to upload pictures, create links, etc.
  3. A button to Browse their Computer and attach a file (more than one file can be attached by repeated use of the button).
  4. A place to type comments

You'll want to let your students know if you prefer submission as an attached paper or as text or media entered online. Also let them know you won't necessarily see the "Comments" until it is time to grade the assignment.

Student Submits Assignment



Collecting and Grading Assignments

As soon as your students submit Assignment file(s) you'll see a "Needs Grading" symbol in the Grade Center (go to Control Panel > Grade Center > Full Grade Center)

Needs Grading Symbol in Grade Center

The student see the same symbol in their gradebook ("My Grades") and can verify that their file was submitted correctly.


There are two ways to grade Assignments - online one at a time or using bulk download and grading offline.

Bulk Download of Assignments

When students are submitting longer papers, files to which you want to add comments and return, or if you simply prefer to grade offline - bulk download is a good choice.

Go to the Full Grade Center and find the column for that Assignment - from the drop-down menu next to the column header you'll find Assignment File Download

Assignment File Download on Column Header menu

Select the student(s) whose files you want to download (click the box at the top to select all). Scroll down to choose additional options, then click Submit.

You'll see a link to a zipped file - save that file to your computer. Inside the zipped file will be all the selected students submissions - the assignment name, date and their username will be appended to their file name.

Select Files to Download

When the page reloads you'll see a link to the zipped file - click and save this zipped file.

Download Zipped File

After you save the zipped file you need to extract the files. In Windows right-click on the zipped file and choose "Extract All" from the menu. Macintosh computers may automatically expand the zipped file or else you may need to click to open. Now you'll have a folder with the same name. Inside you'll find all the submitted files (with assignment name and student username appended in front) as well as files for comments and anything submitted in the online text box.

Now you can open and grade the students assignments.


View One Assignment at a Time

To view submitted Assignments one at a time, use the drop-down menu next to the Needs Grading symbol for an individual student. The circle/arrow that represents the menu won't be visible until you hover over it.

Steps to View Grade Details

1) Click on the drop down menu in the row for any student

2) Click View Grade Details

3) You'll see the name and some details for that student - click on Grade Attempt

Grade Attempt for one student

What you see next depends on the type of file the student has submitted.


The Inline Grader

Here is what you'll see when you go to Grade Attempt

Inline Assignment Grader

Note that the grade is entered in the blue area on the right and that below that is a very tiny downward arrow - click there to get a place to enter feedback (shown to learner), notes to yourself (not displayed to students) and attach any returned papers.

Note that after you click submit you will go on to the next student.


For the file types that can be displayed online, the commenting tools can also be used to give feedback, including marking and highlighting directly on the submission.


You'll see any text entered in the textbox (in the line labeled Submission) and link(s) to attached file(s) (1 above). Depending on the format of the submitted file, you may be able to click and view it or may need to save it to your computer.

After viewing the student's submission you can enter a grade (2 above), give feedback (3) and attach any files you want to return to the student (4).

After grading one student's submission, you don't need to go back to the full grade center - at the bottom of the page click on Save and Next (1 below). To go to the next student without saving, click on the arrow (2 below).

Save and Next Link



After Bulk Download - Returning Assignments and Giving Feedback

To return Assignments and give feedback you'll go through a process similar to that described previously when viewing assignments online one at a time. In this case, you'll already have viewed and graded the work offline - you just need to submit grades, give feedback and return files (if desired).

Here is a good work-flow process for grading offline and then and returning files.

  1. Follow the bulk download process and extract the zipped folder into a "Student Work" folder for that course and semester.
  2. Inside the folder for that Assignment, create two new folders - "return" and "done"
  3. One at a time, open a students submission, grade and add comments (for example by adding new text in a different color).
  4. Record the actual grade on a paper or spreadsheet
  5. Choose "Save As" and save the graded file into the "return" folder - add a work "return" or "graded" in front of the file name.
  6. Move the graded file into the "done folder"
  7. Open the next students file and continue until all files are graded and moved to "done" and all files to be returned are in the folder "return"

Now you'll return to the full grade center, find the column for that Assignment and use the drop-down menu in the row for the first student's name to "View Grade Details" and then "View Attempt" as described previously.



The Assignment tool is used to collect submitted file(s) from students. It is a one-on-one tool where only the student and instructor have access to the file(s). Instructors view and grade the Assignments through the Grade Center. You can grade assignments online or bulk download and grade them offline, then return them through the grade center. Students will view their submitted work, grades, feedback and any returned papers through "My Grades". To see the feedback they'll need to click on the name of the Assignment within My Grades and then on the score for the Assignment.