What are the benefits of anonymous grading?

You can enable anonymous grading during the creation stage to eliminate grading bias for high-stake assignments.

Whenever you want to add another layer of fairness and impartiality to your grading, you can use the anonymous grading feature. You won't know who made the submission, so you aren't unduly influenced by a student's previous performance, class participation, conflicts, race, gender, or perceived student aptitude. This practice can also contribute to the student-instructor relationship because students are assured that grading was unbiased.

Watch a video about anonymous grading

The following narrated video provides a visual and auditory representation of some of the information included on this page. For a detailed description of what is portrayed in the video, open the video on YouTube, navigate to More actions, and select Open transcript.

Video: Anonymous grading explains how to set up anonymous grading when you create an assignment.

Enable anonymous grading

Doesn't seem familiar? Jump to the "Ultra" help about enabling anonymous grading.

When you grade assignments, you can hide student names at any time during the grading process. But, if you enable anonymous grading when you create an assignment, students are notified when they access the assignment. You can also ask students not to include any information that identifies them, such as adding their names to files they attach to assignments.

On the Create Assignment page in the Grading Options section, select the Enable Anonymous Grading check box. Next, choose when you want to automatically remove students' anonymity:

  1. On specific date: Provide the date you want to disable anonymous grading. The system will automatically begin removing anonymity before the end of that date.
  2. After all submissions are graded: Provide a due date. After students submit attempts, the due date passes, and you have graded the attempts, student anonymity is disabled.

Clear the Enable Anonymous Grading check box to manually disable anonymous grading at any time. You can turn anonymous grading on and off until a student submits an attempt. After the first submission, you can only turn it off. If you grade some attempts anonymously, then turn off the anonymous setting, the items graded with revealed names aren't tracked as "Graded Anonymously."

Anonymous grading notifications

You're notified when assignments that are ready to grade anonymously have submissions. Alerts appear in these areas:

  • Needs Grading page—user anonymity is preserved in the list
  • Needs Attention and Alerts modules
  • Individual email notifications
  • SMS, voice, and daily digest email notifications

Access anonymous submissions

Doesn't seem familiar? Jump to the "Ultra" help about accessing anonymous submissions.

You can access assignment submissions that you set for anonymous grading in the Grade Center or on the Needs Grading page.

  1. Grade Center: After an assignment's due date has passed or all attempts have been submitted, access the assignment's column and select Grade Attempts.
  2. Needs Grading page: Filter the items that need grading to show only the assignment you want to grade. From an assignment's menu, select Grade All Users to begin grading.

Both access options take you to the Grade Assignment page where you view submissions and grade as you normally do.

As you navigate from student to student, usernames are replaced with "Anonymous Student." You can also see how many gradable items are in the queue. After anonymous grading is disabled, the grades appear in the Grade Center column.

Multiple anonymous attempts

When you allow multiple attempts, you may not need to grade all of them. When you choose to grade anonymously, student names and attempts are hidden. If you chose to use the first or last attempt for the grade, you can't view how many attempts students have submitted. When you start grading from the grade column, you can easily see which attempts will be calculated as part of student grades.

In the grade column's menu, select Grade Attempts. Navigate to the attempts that appear only with the Needs Grading icon next to Anonymous Student.

Attempts that aren't part of student grade calculations appear with the Does not contribute to user's grade icon, and you don't need to grade them.

If you start grading from the Needs Grading page, you'll see only the attempts that need grading based on which attempt you chose to grade—first or last. You can choose to view all of the attempts. Students' names and attempt statuses are hidden.

More on the Needs Grading page

Additional attempts in anonymous grading

Allow Additional Attempt only appears if a student has already submitted the maximum number of attempts allowed for that assignment. You can continue to offer opportunities to resubmit attempts each time a student reaches the maximum number. You don't have to grade previous attempts to allow a student to submit again.

When an assignment is in an anonymous state, you can still grant a student an additional attempt. You can view student names, but not their submissions or how many attempts are left. Your request is ignored if attempts remain.

Alternatively, select Ignore Attempt to ignore the attempt's score in grade calculations and not count it against the maximum number of attempts.

Send reminders about missing coursework

You can send email reminders from Grade Center columns to students and members of groups who have missing coursework. Students receive a system-generated email that lists the course, coursework, and the due date if you assigned one. You receive a success message at the top of the screen when the email is sent.

You can also send reminders for assignments with anonymous or delegated grading enabled. To protect anonymity, students' names and attempt statuses are hidden.

You won't see this menu option if your institution uses an older version of Blackboard Learn.

Proof of anonymous grading

Institutions need a way to validate that specific assignments were graded anonymously.

You and administrators can verify anonymous grading was enabled at the time you gave the grade. Even after anonymity is disabled, verification appears on the attempt's grading screen and in the Grade Center history.

Students are informed if their assignments are set to be graded anonymously on the Upload Assignment page. They're asked not to include any identifying information with their submissions.

On the Review Submission History page or in My Grades, students see a Graded Anonymously icon if their assignments were graded anonymously.

Anonymity in the Grade Center

Students' identities are protected while you grade anonymously:

  • Anonymously graded assignment scores aren't used in calculated columns until you disable anonymity.
  • Anonymously graded assignments don't appear in Grade Center reports until you disable anonymity.
  • Anonymously graded assignment columns aren't available for selection when you download Grade Center data.

ULTRA: Enable anonymous grading

Doesn't seem familiar? Jump to the "Original" help about enabling anonymous grading.

You can enable anonymous grading for assignments and tests that don't contain the built-in question types. You may add only text and files to anonymously graded assignments and tests.

Student names are hidden while you grade and are revealed only after you post all grades. No indication of students with accommodations is shown.

You can't hide or show student names after students open an assignment or test or submit attempts.

Settings compatible with anonymous grading

These settings and features work with anonymous grading:

  • Due date: When a due date passes, anonymous grading remains in effect.
  • Multiple attempts
  • Parallel grading
  • Add time limit
  • Add grading rubric
  • Align with goals
  • SafeAssign: Results are hidden while anonymous grading is enabled. After you post grades, names are shown and you can view the SafeAssign results and Originality Reports.

Settings not compatible with anonymous grading

These settings and features don't work with anonymous grading:

  • Allow class conversations
  • Collect submissions offline
  • Assign to groups
  • Add and reuse questions

More on creating assignments

If you create an assessment with questions, you can't enable anonymous grading. If you've hidden student names and select a question type, you're asked if you want to disable anonymous grading. If you select Continue, the question field opens and anonymous grading is disabled.

Student view

When students open the assessment, this message appears:

This assessment will be graded anonymously. Don't include any personal information, such as your name.

ULTRA: Access anonymous submissions

Doesn't seem familiar? Jump to the "Original" help about accessing anonymous submissions.

On the Gradebook page, select the assignment title to begin grading. Follow the same workflow for tests.

On the Submissions page, a message appears stating anonymous grading is in progress.

The submissions list only includes a list of those students who've made a submission. All student information is hidden. Student pictures are replaced with the general silhouette. Students who’ve submitted are assigned “Anonymous Student” and a number, such as Anonymous Student 244260. The submissions are in random order—not ordered by submission date.

The number of submissions out of the total possible number appears at the top of the page. Students remain anonymous until you post all grades. You can also view how many you’ve graded in the To Post heading.

Grid view

In grid view, the column header lists how many submissions you've graded. In each student's cell, Anonymous appears. You aren't able to tell which students have submitted. If you point to a cell, this message appears: Finish grading to turn off anonymity and post all grades.

ULTRA: Grade anonymous submissions

When you select a submission, Anonymous Student and the number appears. You can access the rubric, open student files, annotate inline, and assign a grade and feedback.

More on grading assignments

You can’t post the grade from the submissions page. You can navigate to other submissions at the top of the page.

On the Submissions page, a graded submission’s status is Nothing to grade. No grade appears until you post all grades.

Post all grades

When you’ve finished grading, select the Post All Grades link in the banner at the top of the page.

Post All Grades only appears to roles with that entitlement. For example, a Grader can't post all grades and disable anonymous grading.

You receive a confirmation modal if you have attempts to grade or some students have attempts left to submit. If you post all grades, anonymous grading is disabled and student names are revealed. This action is irreversible. Later, you can update posted grades and grade late submissions.

On the course Gradebook page, you can view your grading progress. You'll also receive warnings if you try to post all grades before grading is complete or all submissions are made. You'll also receive warnings if you select Post grades on the global Grades in the list where your name appears.

After you post all grades, student names and profile pictures appear. Any grades you assigned are posted. Complete indicates you have no outstanding grading tasks for that student.

At this time, after you post all grades, no label or icon appears to show the assessment was anonymously graded.

Late submissions

Anonymous grading isn't disabled when the due date passes. Late submissions are labeled.

Delete an attempt

You can delete an attempt, for example, if a student added identifying information. Open the menu on the submission page and select Delete. The attempt and grade are cleared and the student can submit again.

What do students see?

Students don’t see any indication of anonymous grading on their Grades page. Until you post all grades, a student sees Not graded in the Grade column, even if you've assigned a grade.

ULTRA: Multiple anonymous attempts

You can allow students to submit multiple attempts when you enable anonymous grading. Student names remain hidden for each attempt. In the gradebook, you can view how many attempts each student submitted and how many you have to grade.

After you finish grading all attempts for a student, you'll see Nothing to grade in the student's row.

You’re warned if you select Post All Grades when some students haven’t submitted all their attempts. If you post all grades when outstanding attempts exist, anonymous grading is disabled.

Student view of multiple attempts

When students view their attempts, they see Not graded in the grade pill. When you post all grades, they'll see grades for all attempts.

ULTRA: Anonymity in the gradebook

Students' identities are protected while you grade anonymously:

  • Anonymously graded assessment scores aren't used in calculated columns until you disable anonymity.
  • Anonymously graded assessments don't appear in student activity reports until you disable anonymity.
  • Anonymously graded columns aren't available for selection when you download gradebook data.

ULTRA: Course conversion and anonymous grading

When you convert your Original course to an Ultra course, existing assessments with no questions retain the anonymous grade setting. Any assessment grades are removed during conversion.

More on converting your course