My students have
discovered a nasty quirk in Bb (Blackboard
Learn™ Course Delivery - Enterprise License (9.0.539.0)). Other
instructors must have discovered this too, but I do not find anything
in the forum about it. If students (apparently accidentally) press
Submit after successfully turning in a file to an Assignment (drop
box), the most recent submission is “empty” and has no file
attached. When I download the assignment files for all students,
victims of this quirk have no file submitted and get a zero. I can
see clearly what happened when I look at their details for that
assignment. The problem is that they cannot see that they have made
the error and have effectively “overwritten” their successful
attempt with an “empty” attempt. Essentially, Bb counts the
extra submission as an attempt valid enough to override preceding
attempts but implies to the student that all is well by not listing
the superfluous submission. The pdf file at the link below shows the problem.
On a page for each student, the upper portion is a screenshot of
what I see, the lower portion is what the student sees. Is this
problem known? Is there a solution?
Link to PDF documentation: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B16RVsenOh5mYTcyNGQ4MGQtNGQxZC00MjY3LThkMzAtM2UxYTI1ZDlhZGFj
How are the students getting to the point where they can hit "Submit" again? When the students do this, are they actually overwriting the last attempt, or are they starting a new, empty attempt--the one that's labeled "(Not Attempted)" in the Grade Details page?
I assume these are assignments that are set up to allow for multiple submissions. I don't have BB 9.0, but on 9.1 when a student clicks on an assignment where there's already been a submission, they go to the "Review Submission History" page that lists their submissions, and they click on a :Start New Submission" link to make another attempt. The Grade Center "Assignment File Download" also includes all attempts and attached files, not just the last one.
Thanks for your reply, Mike. I'll respond to your questions one by one.
How are the students getting to the point where they can hit "Submit" again? I don't know. Each one says s/he did NOT make any additional submission, deliberately or accidentally. Using my student test account, I cannot duplicate the situation except by starting a new attempt. However, in one of the examples, the time between the proper attempt and the questionable one is only 3 seconds.
When the students do this, are they actually overwriting the last attempt, or are they starting a new, empty attempt--the one that's labeled "(Not Attempted)" in the Grade Details page? I can't be sure because I don't know what I am not seeing. In each case, I do see at least one "valid" attempt that has an attached file, followed by an incomplete submission with no attached file. It appears that they have started new attempts, but can that be accomplished in 3 seconds?
I assume these are assignments that are set up to allow for multiple submissions. Yes. Often students want to submit updated files or discover that the first one they submitted was for a different assignment. It is advantageous for all to give them that flexibility, especially because of the convenience allowed by Bb's behavior addressed in your last question, below.
I don't have BB 9.0, but on 9.1 when a student clicks on an assignment where there's already been a submission, they go to the "Review Submission History" page that lists their submissions, and they click on a :Start New Submission" link to make another attempt. I see that in my version as well.
The Grade Center "Assignment File Download" also includes all attempts and attached files, not just the last one. I do not see that in my version. Only the most recent submission is available for download (whether it has an attached file or not), which is a desirable filter in most cases.
This Q&A does not address the real problem which is that Bb does not allow students to see that an erroroneous submission has been made. I could easily hold students accountable for clearing all but their single attempt to be graded. To do that, students have to be able to see all of their attempts including the incomplete ones. Why doesn't Bb give students the same information that it gives me?
From what I can tell trying to duplicate this behavior on my server, the students haven't made an "erroneous submission". Rather, the "(Not Attempted)" label means Blackboard sees the student as having opened a new "in progress" attempt, but not actually submitted anything. That might be happening if they double-click when submitting the attempt, or if they go back to the assignment after submitting.
Anyway, when that happens, my screen looks just the way your does from the instructor side, showing one listing in the grade details as "(Not Attempted)". Trying to view the "(Not Attempted)" one gives me an error message saying the attempt hasn't been submitted yet and isn't visible.
From the student side, under "Review Submission History", the "in progress" attempt is also not listed among the submissions, but in 9.1 I do have a button to "Continue current attempt", and I don't see that on your screenshot. Since I don't have 9.0, I can't look to see if there's another way for students to see that there's an in-progress assignment attempt.
In the version of Blackboard that your school is using, there are a couple of known issues related to assignment file attachments that might explain what you're seeing, which were resolved in Bb 9.0 SP5 (released back in Oct. 2010). They may or may not explain what you're seeing, but I'd suggest you ask your system administrator to submit a problem ticket to Blackboard, so Blackboard tech support can establish whether the cause is one of those known issues, or something else.
Not sure if I should post this as a new topic, but I am struggling with what may be a similar issue related to "Not attempted." We too have multiple submissions enabled on assignments. So far as I can tell, if any attempt gets the status "Not attempted" then Blackboard will not give any credit for any of the attempts until the "Not attempted" attempt is either graded or cleared. Now the bad news: depending on how the particular column is set up to "score attempts using," you may not be able to see the problem without going into the details of each grade. After faculty then grade the real attempt, the student may have an excellent grade showing for that item, but Blackboard treats the grade as a zero because it sees only the hidden non-attempt. We only noticed (fortunately before grades were submitted officially) when certain students seemed to end up a lower final grade than they should have given what was showing in the other columns of the Grade Center.
I do not understand what "Not attempted" is supposed to designate. A student can have made no attempts, can be "in progress" (submitting or have put up a draft), or they have submitted. "Not attempted" seems to be a double-speak of sorts, saying the student made an attempt, but at the same time, didn't.
I can create the "Not attempted" scenario using a test student simply by starting to submit an attempt but clicking the CANCEL button. Logically, I would think that should amount to no attempt at all, but Blackboard records the action as a "Not attempted" attempt. It might not matter, except for the fact that legitimate grades are affected.
Is this a bug, or is there some method to the madness? For the time being, I suspect I need to spread the word that whenever an instructor sees a "Not attempted" attempt, they should clear it.
The problem you're describing, with cancelled assignment attempts being registered in the Grade Center, is a known issue in 9.1, identified as LRN-34550/AS-160992, and there is are patches available for some versions which the administrator can install at http://kb.blackboard.com/display/KB/Canceled+Attempts+Are+Recorded+in+Assignment+Submissions+and+Grade+Center.
There is no mention of that particular known issue affecting Bb 9.0 that Gordon is using, which is why I didn't mention it. It's possible that it also is related to his issue, but I can't tell from the documentation I have available as an end user, which is why I suggested it be referred to Blackboard support.
Mike, thanks for your persistence. Regardless of the terminology, the problem is that my version of Bb considers an attempt without an attached file not even worth mentioning to a student but completed enough to displace previous valid attempts for grading purposes.
Rodger, we may have stumbled into the same trap; I don't see how it can be possibly be the result of good logic and careful programming. My class is too large to rummage through the grade center looking for reasons that a student may not have a submitted file.
I have no idea what SP we have or if/why it may not be up to date. We are scheduled to move to version 9.1 in the next few weeks, and I'm hoping the problem disappears. It is disconcerting to hear that there is yet another known issue that may dash my hopes. In the meantime, I'm switching to Google Forms as a simple and reliable alternative to Bb.
Happy holidays to you both!
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