Tips about downloading Blackboard test data

Mr Chan Chun Sang
Educational Development Centre
Apart from knowing the difficulty of a question you asked in a Blackboard test, do you want to analyse the data in your own way? For example, you could analyse the correlation among questions or analyse student scores by combining them with other data sources, say their exam result. In order to carry out advanced analysis, instructors can download students' test submissions through the Download Results page. However, a minor bug was found recently in this feature. By reading this blog, you will know more about this bug and the workarounds suggested by Blackboard.
This is the Download Results page.


Learn@PolyU allows instructors to download students' test submissions through the Download Results page. Recently, a bug was found in the data downloaded when the test contains ignored attempts.

What’s the problem?

In the Download Results page, you can see the message “… Downloading Only Valid Attempts will just include the attempt that is being graded …”. The keywords “Only Valid Attempts” and “attempt that is being graded” should be clear enough to tell instructors that all ignored attempts will be excluded from the downloaded data. 
This is not true in our current system. For example, if a student told you that he/she mistakenly takes a Blackboard test twice which uses the last attempt in grade calculation, you will have to make the second attempt as an ignored attempt*. However, the data obtained from the Download Results page will unfortunately include the ignored attempt instead of the first attempt.
*To learn what an ignored attempt is, see the description of allowing additional attempts.

Any workarounds?

ITS have already reported this bug to Blackboard, and here is their reply:
Downloading Only Valid Attempts will just include the attempt that is being graded. For example, if the grading option is Last Attempt then only the last attempt will be provided. If the Grading option is Average, all attempts will be provided.
According to Blackboard's reply, the reason for this error is that the current system treats that ignored attempt as the last attempt which is clearly abnormal.
Blackboard suggests three workarounds to instructors:
  1. remove the score from the test in the ignored attempt and download the data again
  2. download “All Attempts” instead of “Only Valid Attempts“ in Download Results and then remove the ignored attempt manually
  3. run the item analysis report for the test instead of analyzing the raw data
These workarounds are not perfect. Here are some things that you should pay attention before you adopt the solution.
  1. Removing any scores in Grade Center is irreversible. You will never get back the details of that attempt unless you have archived it.
  2. There is no way to distinguish which attempts you will need if you download all attempts. This is because all ignored attempts and wanted attempts are mixed in the data set and cannot be separated from the data downloaded.
  3. The item analysis report provides useful information and can be used to analyse how good or bad a question is. The report, however, includes any attempts submitted by testing accounts. Additionally, it is impossible to transform the report into any other kinds of format, say Excel.
We have to wait until Blackboard fix the problem. I will follow up this case and report it in the blog in the future. Please stay tuned.


Report a problem

If you find any potential bugs inside Blackboard, please do not hesitate to report them to HOTS directly. We also welcome you to share with us any problem you found by leaving your comment below or sending an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..