Assignments is a tool in Blackboard that helps instructors assess and keep track of student work, and keep learners engaged. An Assignment is a place where students can submit a short answer or essay response to a course requirement.  In this webinar, Gene Shwalb demonstrates the basic workflow of creating, reviewing, and grading assignments.

Creating an assignment

An assignment can be created in any content area in Blackboard (a weekly session, the course materials area, or a new content area).  An assignment can be created as simply as with only a title and assigned points, (even zero points). However, there are a lot of different ways to customize an assignment, such as, using the description box to write instructions, uploading a document or picture, setting availability dates or due dates.

Assignments do not have to be the traditional, double-spaced essays or cited papers. They can be any kind of creative response to reinforce material used to meet the learning objectives in your course. For essay or cited paper assignments, SafeAssign and TurnitIn are two tools available in Blackboard used to prevent and/or detect plagiarism.


When an assignment is created in Blackboard, a Grade Center column will be automatically created for it. Once a student completes an assignment, the needs grading symbol (a yellow circle with an exclamation mark) will appear in the appropriate row and column of the grade center, and can be accessed for grading through the Full Grade Center, Needs Grading link, a SmartView, or on an iPad using Bb Grader.


The Assignments tool has a Groups setting which will allow any member of the group to submit an assignment and one grade will be distributed to all members of the group. If you intend to assign group assignments, create the groups before the assignment.

Mobile grading app

The free Bb Grader App is a helpful for grading on the iPad. Log in using your UMass Boston credentials for access to the gradable assignments in all active courses. Take a look at this video overview.

Assignments will appear as notebook icons that, once clicked on, should show the list of students in the course and which ones have submitted the assignment. By clicking on the assignment submission, the instructor can read and comment on the assignment very similarly to the full grade center. The instructor can also leave audio or video comments with the grade that will be sent to the grade center instantly for student feedback.

Plagiarism prevention

There are two anti-plagiarism tools available in Blackboard. The first, SafeAssign, is the Blackboard built-in anti-plagiarism tool, integrated with the assignment tool and simple to set up. The other,TurnitIn, available in Blackboard as an independent tool, is a more robust tool with a broader paper database, but slightly more involved to set up.

Both SafeAssign and TurnitIn are not only detectors of plagiarism, but when presented alongside information about proper citation and academic integrity can help educate students about proper citation and help prevent the instinct to copy and paste.

Best practices

  • Provide clear instructions about the location of the assignment and its requirements and due dates to prevent confusion.
  • Review your work using the Student Preview feature in Blackboard. This gives you an accurate view of the student side of Blackboard and allows you to ensure the assignment you created displays as you intended.

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