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Blackboard Outcomes is a slick tool that helps us, as an institution, ensure quality and consistency across our curriculum. Are we doing what we say we’re doing? If not, how can we make improvements?
This isn’t an easy task. Especially when comparing similarly purposed courses taught in different departments. How, for example, do we look at two Aesthetic Experience courses, taught from drastically difference perspectives and compare how well they meet Core Goal #4: Participate in an act of artistic creation and reflect on the experience?
We’ll accomplish this task through a committee of secondary assessors who will examine compare and contrast students’ work from various courses, assignments that look different, but have identical programmatic goals. Rather than grading assignment, they’ll examine the work through the lens of the broad goal.
Blackboard Outcomes automates the gathering of assignments with common goals so that you, the professor, don’t have to. What do we need you to do? One simple thing, align these goals to their corresponding assignments. This can be done to current courses, future courses, or even completed courses.
This is a simple task. Let me show you with the example of First Year Seminar (FYS) and their third course goal: writing effectively.
The first step is to quite simply identify an assignment that meets the goal and locate the assignment’s submission link in Blackboard. In FYS, all of the course content is various sections; Journals, Essays, Speeches, and Miscellaneous assignments.
Under Essay Assignments I’ll find folders with the content for each essay. Here’s one of my favorites, the “How Will We Live” essay.
Clicking on that folder’s link will show the individual items for the assignment. One of these items is the submission link for the final draft. The paper, pencil, ruler icon to the left signifies that this is an assignment that receives student submissions.
If you move your mouse over the link, a drop-down arrow will appear next to the link itself. Clicking on this arrow will open a menu of various course management options. From this menu we’ll select [Add Alignments].
A window will pop up displaying an overwhelmingly large list of goals. You can either filter this list with the menus on the left. All NWCore goals, for example, can be found within the Goal Set Type menu under NWCore.
Or if you know the goal number or description, you can use the search box at the top left. This goal for example is Core.FYE.3.
Any search criteria can be cleared out by clicking the red [X] under the Criteria Summary.
Once you’ve found the desired goal, click on the row to select the item …
… then scroll to the bottom of the window and press the [Submit] button.
The popup window will now close and you’ll see your selected goal listed under the assignment.
Some assignments don’t have a corresponding submission link. A speech for example might include a professor’s written response, but no student submission. In this case you add an alignment through the Blackboard gradebook.
Start by opening your course gradebook and scrolling until you find the desired assignment. A great example from FYS would be the “Speech of Introduction”. Just as before, you could click on the drop-down arrow to open the course management menu; but this time, we’ll select [View and Add Alignments].
Another window will appear. From here select the [Add Alignments] button.
This time I’ll select the goal of Core.FYE.4, speaking effectively, and press [Submit].
Repeat these steps for all necessary goals and assignments and you’re finished; no tedious gathering of assignments, just the tedious clicking of a mouse.