New Marks and Feedback Tool to enable the bulk upload of feedback files and marks to Blackboard

New Marks and Feedback Tool to enable the bulk upload of feedback files and marks to Blackboard

We are delighted to announce the launch of a tool to help staff manage assessment online. The tool enables the bulk download of student work and the upload of feedback file attachments and marks generated electronically outside of Blackboard into Grade Centre for an assignment submitted online.

The following instructions provide guidance on the 6-stage process:
Stage 1 – downloading
Stage 2 – unzipping files
Stage 3 – creating feedback
Stage 4 – zipping files
Stage 5 – uploading feedback
Stage 6 – accessing Grade Centre to check that the upload has worked correctly

The instructions also include considerations associated with its use and screencasts for a visual how-to guide.

In case of queries, please contact your local TEL Team for assistance.

Support for the management of bunching of assessment tasks

At the start of the Assessment Journey Programme we consulted staff about their reporting requirements in relation to assessment and feedback, and we are currently developing a suite of reports to meet these needs.

We are pleased to announce the release of a Task Clustering by Course report to support the management of bunching of assessment tasks. The report draws on data from Assessment Scheduler and is designed to allow course teams to check submission dates for all modules on a course and where relevant, consider the impact on other courses of a change to an assessment date.

Guidance on how to use the report is available in Assessment Essentials.

We’d value your feedback – please contact us at ! Assessment Journey Programme

We’re into the final year of the programme – what has been delivered to date?

As we enter the final year of the programme, it feels an appropriate time to reflect on progress, so here is a round-up of what has been delivered to date:

Informing, preparing and supporting staff:

  • Development, launch and continued promotion of an online resource, Assessment Essentials, to assist staff with the effective design and delivery of assessment for their students
  • Creation of a series of detailed academic case studies to highlight the use of different assessment practices and technologies and share best practice
  • Enhancement of existing Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) guidance and the creation of over 80 new multi-media resources relating to assessment and feedback
  • Identification of staff equipment requirements and changes to the University’s Equipment Policy agreed and published. Implementation processes defined and communicated to all academic staff
  • Design and delivery of a training programme in conjunction with Faculty TEL Teams, encompassing group sessions, drop-ins and bespoke 1-2-1s
  • Development and delivery of a health and safety action plan
  • University-wide staff engagement and communications to inform, prepare and support staff – range of digital communications, university / faculty events, standing meeting updates, working groups and workshops
  • Training and support for all helpdesk teams

Informing, preparing and supporting students:

  • Development and launch of an online resource, Assessment4students, to provide students with guidance and support around assessment
  • Design and delivery of a student communication strategy at the start of 2016/17 to inform students of the change, clarify expectations and provide support through guidance, resources and helpdesks

Governance & process:

  • Definition and implementation of the new Policy for Summative Assessment for 2016/17
  • Definition and communication of the operating models for the management of submission and associated processes in conjunction with faculties
  • Development and communication of a business continuity model in the event of system failure
  • Process improvement work considering seven academic and administrative processes

Technical development:

  • Identification of the detailed technical requirements of the business and engagement with suppliers on development, costs and timeframes
  • Deployment of:
    – a quick enrol functionality to support administrative staff with access to Blackboard module sites
    – an online receipting capability for students submitting  coursework electronically to Blackboard
    – a new tool to enable the bulk upload of feedback file attachments and marks generated electronically outside of Blackboard into Grade Centre for assignments submitted online
  • Development and introduction of a print to mark capability to allow for marking of physical copies of electronically submitted assignments, prior to staff providing electronic feedback online
  • Analysis and initial development work around moving data from Assessment Scheduler to SITS
  • Analysis and options development for  the integration of Blackboard and SITS
  • Pilots and evaluation of the Safe Assign originality checking tool
  • Development and deployment of a new task clustering (bunching) report

We would like to thank everyone involved for their support and valuable contribution.

Department of Natural Built Environment’s Assessment Journey Away Day

On 14 September, the Department of Natural Built Environment held an away day with staff to focus on the task of implementing online management of assessment this academic year.






Luke Desforges, Head of LTA for D&S, and Jon Childs from the Assessment Journey Programme (AJP) Team presented an overview of the Policy for Summative Assessment, outlined the changes to processes and staff practice, showcased the resources available and answered questions from staff around the changes.

This was followed by two practical workshops on online submission and the provision of online feedback, before subject groups met to agree a consistent approach to online feedback. Printed resources were available for staff to take away and feedback is being used to define the support offered by the Faculty TEL Team.

Ann Franks, Head of Academic Development for the Department, said: “This was a great way to start the new academic year. Colleagues had the opportunity to learn about the changes and solutions available, and share their experiences. I would recommend this approach to other departments within the University.”

Mike Nelson, Senior Lecturer, said: “I feel much more confident about adopting online feedback after the session.”

Liane Duxbury, Senior Lecturer, said: “It was a very useful and positive experience. I felt it brought the staff team together in terms of discussing and agreeing the delivery of a much needed ‘standardised’ approach to marking and feedback.”

Need help organising something similar in your area? Please contact ! Assessment Journey Programme


Practice-based assessment case studies from across the sector

cover_issue_46_en_USWe would like to bring to your attention the new Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal. This international peer-reviewed journal supports the work of RAISE (Researching, Advancing and Inspiring Student Engagement).  The first edition contains a special section on assessment and student engagement, including a collection of practice-based case studies from across the sector. These include articles on an extension to TESTA (Transforming the Experience of Students through Assessment) methodology, innovative assessment practices, e-portfolios, problem-based learning and audio feedback, which we feel may be of interest.

To access these articles and more, see the first edition’s table of contents 


Introducing our new Graduate Interns


Left to right: Emily Cooper, Jack Sutherst, Sian Roughley, Nicole Warwick.

Our new Graduate Interns are now based in the faculties supporting the Faculty TEL Teams with staff training and development as the University makes the transition to online management of assessment.

We asked them to tell us a little about themselves, here’s what they had to say:

Siân Roughley – supporting D&S “I recently moved to Sheffield after graduating from University of Leeds with a degree in BA (Hons) German this summer, and originally come from Widnes, Cheshire.  As a recent graduate I’ve experienced the issues that come with assessment and feedback first hand from a student perspective and found it interesting how only a limited amount of academic staff utilised Blackboard fully. Hopefully in this role I can be part of improving the student experience by helping to provide consistency across all Blackboard module sites. I’m looking forward to gaining experience of working within the higher education sector, as well as acquiring knowledge about e-learning which I can continue to use throughout my career.”

Jack Sutherst supporting HWB “I studied Chemistry at Sheffield Hallam University and graduated in 2016, moving from my home town of Bury, Lancashire in 2013. I am looking forward to supporting developments in assessment processes across the University, especially in Health and Wellbeing. This role really interests me as it links with my final year project which investigated what students considered when choosing a University. I hope this experience will help me grow professionally and develop my knowledge of assessment processes and the new innovations available to academics.”

Nicole Warwick – supporting SBS “I graduated from The University of Sheffield in 2015 after studying BSc Human Communication Sciences. I’m excited to return to Sheffield from Rossendale (Lancashire), to enjoy the city alongside the beautiful Sheffield hills.I understand how beneficial online assessment will be for students and am looking forward to being part of the team implementing the changes. I’m particularly interested in helping teaching staff gain confidence with the variety of different types of online feedback.”

Emily Cooper – supporting ACES “I recently graduated from University of the West of England with a degree in Drama with Creative Writing. I grew up on my Grandparents’ farm outside Worcester, and moved to Sheffield this summer. I am still finding my way around the city, but have fallen in love with the Peaks! This role interested me as it’s a great opportunity to gain experience in the higher education environment and to work as part of a development team, with a focus on learning. I am excited about seeing improvements in the Faculty of ACES and helping to make the Assessment Journey Programme a success.”

New assessment resource for students

We are pleased to announce that a new resource ‘Assessment4Students’ is now available to provide students with guidance and support around assessment.

Over the last year, we’ve been consulting Hallam students through a series of workshops to ascertain student needs and requirements to improve understanding of the assessment process, and design preferences.

Students can now access the following content throughout the academic year:
– frequently asked questions about assessment
– how to develop their academic skills
– guidance on submitting work and sitting exams
– how to access marks and use feedback effectively
– how to provide feedback about your course
– University assessment regulations
– and much more

The resource will be widely promoted to students at the start of the academic year through direct email, Course Leader inductions, Blackboard, shuspace, helpdesk material, TV screens, desktop screensavers and social media.

We’d value your feedback – please contact us at ! Assessment Journey Programme

Changes to equipment provision for academic staff – implementation FAQs

The University recently announced changes to its Equipment Policy to facilitate mobile and flexible working, and to enable staff to adopt more efficient and effective online management of assessment and the provision of online feedback.

Please find below the answers to a series of pertinent questions which provide further clarity around how the implementation will be managed and the required actions.

How do I register my interest in replacing my desktop with a laptop?
An electronic form will be sent to all academic staff on 12 September to assess the demand for switching to laptops from desktop PCs and to ascertain how the device will be used for providing electronic feedback. The deadline for completion of the form will be 30 September when all responses will be collated and analysed.

Will all requests for laptops be fulfilled in 2016/17? And if not, how will requests be prioritised?
There is a significant number of laptops available to meet demand in the coming academic year 2016/17, however in the event that demand exceeds stock we may need to prioritise laptop requests. Laptop allocation will be discussed with faculties and informed by the age of equipment currently provided and user need for the delivery of online feedback. Further laptops will be made available for 2017/18 subject to demand.

How do I request a second or larger screen?
Desktop users can now request a second or larger screen via IT Help. The upper size limit is 27 inch. Laptop users will be provided with a docking station and a full size monitor, keyboard and mouse and may request a second or larger screen if required.

I need a non-standard laptop for my area of work. How will this request be handled?
Requests for non-standard equipment (Macs and high spec laptops or desktops) will still be subject to a business case. Requests should be submitted via IT Help.

The recent staff brief advised that a loan service for mobile devices such as iPads and other tablets is being developed. Is there any further information available about this?
It has been agreed that there will be a central loan service for equipment to support online management of assessment. Faculties are currently being consulted to understand their detailed requirements for the service i.e. the offer and the booking processes. Further details should be available in October.

Students at the heart of the Assessment Journey Programme

September is upon us and we look forward to welcoming our new and returning students and starting to implement the new Policy for Summative Assessment to improve their assessment experience.

Student Benefits
Here’s a reminder of how students will benefit from the move to online management of assessment:

  • One clear process across all modules for submitting and receiving feedback on assessments
  • A better understanding and confidence in the assessment process through clearer assessment guidance
  • Reduction in printing costs and convenience of not having to travel or queue to hand in physical assignments (where coursework is suitable for online submission)
  • The ability to review own performance to inform personal and professional development through accessing marks and feedback in one location (My Grades in Blackboard)
  • Increased confidence through automatic proof of receipt for online submissions
  • Confidence of knowing work is stored electronically, securely and backed up
  • Improved clarity and understanding of feedback

Student Communications

All students will receive an email via SITS during the week commencing 19 September and should also be invited to an induction session run by their Course Leader (to include content on assessment). These communications aim to make students aware of the changes to student assessment from September 2016, and advise them on how the change will affect them and what support is available during the academic year.

A new online resource ‘Assessment4Students’ is now available to provide students with guidance and support around assessment. This will be widely promoted at the start of the academic year via the above communications, as well as a number of other channels – Blackboard, shuspace, helpdesk material, plasma screens, desktop screensavers and social media.

New Course Induction Material

In order to prepare students and provide appropriate support we have put together a few slides for Course Leaders to use in their course induction sessions.

Slide 1 – introducing students to the changes relating to online submission and feedback

Slide 2 – the Assessment4Students resource

Slide 3 – where links to the resource will be on shuspace

Slide 4 – an information leaflet available via Faculty Helpdesks