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Marks and Feedback

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This section covers:

Benefits of submitting and receiving feedback online

  • 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. 

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Types of Feedback

Here are some examples of the types of feedback you may receive:

  • Typed comments and annotations: this is when tutors use comments and annotation within assignments, so that feedback is positioned ‘in context’ against specific points in students’ original work.
  • Audio: this is when tutors use a variety of portable recording devices to verbally record and provide students with audio commentary of their work. Audio feedback can be provided on any assignment or assessment task, and it is claimed that more detailed, in-depth and personal feedback can be provided in this way.
  • Electronic marking grid: electronic marking grids can be used to provide individual feedback to students based on their performance against the assessment criteria.
  • Video/Screencast: this is where screencast software can be used to highlight specific points or demonstrate specific actions in the student’s original work while providing detailed audio commentary and feedback. When returned, students can see the process that the marker went through in reviewing and discussing their work.
  • PebblePad/webfolios: e-Portfolios are increasingly used. These can be constructed, for example, in blogs, through the Blackboard Portfolio tool or via PebblePad (see further guidance below). As well as being a record of learning that has taken place a portfolio can also provide a reflective record of professional development enabling the individual to document progress.
  • Face to face: face-to-face feedback can be formal or informal, received from tutors or peers and take place within class (e.g. discussions, peer review activity) or outside class (e.g. staff office hours, within group work and learning sets).  This form of feedback provides two-way communication between the students and tutor, giving you the opportunity to ask questions.
  • Exam: the minimum expectation for exam feedback is for the teaching team to provide 1:1 examination feedback upon request by the student and provide one additional type of examination feedback (this is not applicable to final year students within their final semester).  Exam scripts cannot be retained to students, but the content of the script and tutor feedback comments can be used to facilitate feedback.  Student feedback requests are to be made normally within 3 months but in exceptional cases or where necessary e.g. whole year re-assessment, feedback could be given up to a year of the exam taking place. 

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Formative and summative feedback

Feedback can be about your individual assignments and your contribution to group work. This can include a draft that you have prepared and your ideas about your subject.  Good feedback can help you to self assess your work against assessment criteria and help you work out what you have done wrong in an assignment. You can use this feedback to help improve your future assignments, to understand your subject better and approach work in new modules.  This feedback can take the form of: personal written feedback; online objective feedback; feedback grids;  audio feedback; generic feedback; peer feedback; self-regulated feedback; feed forward; dialogic feedback. Feedback can come from different people such as your course leader, module leader, tutors and fellow students. It can be given both formatively and summatively.

Formative Feedback

Refers to the information and advice students receive about their performance and how they can improve it but do not receive a mark. The timing of formative feedback is often important so students can apply it, for example before assessment tasks are attempted.  Formative feedback is usually given throughout modules. Some examples of this are:

  • comments from seminar tutors within the timetabled preparation and feedback workshops.
  • answers to questions and comments made in class.
  • draft project plan.
  • the views of your peers in group discussions.

You might also proactively seek feedback from peers, tutors, contacts at work or from your placement. Seeking feedback and acting upon it is one of the skills that will stand you in good stead in your working life so make sure you practice that skill wherever you can.

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Summative feedback 

Refers to the formal comments made by the academic with responsibility for assessing a student’s work so that the student is clear about their level of achievement, the way their work has been assessed, and how their work could be improved. Summative feedback should help students to reflect on what they have done and how they can do better and, in this sense, is also formative in nature.  Summative feedback provides a measure of students’ progress against intended learning outcomes using specified criteria at key points in the course.   Students receive a grade for their work, that can form part of their final classification. 

Get ready for feedback

  • Find out what sort of feedback you will be getting on your module assignments: will it be written or verbal or online?
  • Who will be giving the feedback: the module leader, seminar tutor, other students on the module?
  • When will the feedback be given?
  • If this information isn’t clear from your module guide, ask you module tutor – they are there to help.
  • Feedback on your ideas and way of approaching your assignments is likely to be given during class discussions – so be there to receive it!

Understand feedback

  • Read or listen to it carefully and think about how it applies to your work or ideas.
  • Think about how it relates to the assessment criteria.
  • If it is written feedback which is hard to read let your seminar tutor know – they may not realise their writing is illegible.
  • If you don’t understand your feedback ask!  Feedback should be a dialogue.  Be prepared to ask your seminar tutor, your module leader of your academic advisor/personal tutor about it.

Use your feedback

  • To think about what you have done well and what you can improve in your work.
  • To plan a subsequent piece of work.
  • To prepare work in other modules.  Feedback given in one module is often relevant for another.  For instance, feedback on researching your ideas or giving a presentation will probably be as useful for assignments in Year 3 as it was in Year 1.
  • To develop your understanding of your subject. 

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Accessing your marks and feedback

Provisional marks and feedback on assessment are normally given within 3 working weeks (excluding student vacation periods, i.e.. Christmas, Easter and summer breaks) of the coursework submission deadline.  There may be exceptional situations in which the 3 week turnaround is not possible but in these situations your Module Leader will inform you of the delay. Module leaders will publish the expected feedback return dates to you either via the Blackboard module site or via email.  All marks shown on Blackboard are provisional until they have been agreed by an assessment board, after which your final results will be published on My Student Record. Feedback and provisional marks on all coursework assessment tasks will be made available to students online, through Blackboard. There are several ways your Module Leader/tutor could provide feedback on your assessments in Blackboard.  Your Module Leader/tutor should inform you in what format they have issued feedback.

Feedback Rubric

This is an electronic marking grid. They might annotate your submission directly in Blackboard or they might leave more general comments attached to your mark, or upload feedback files using different media including text, audio or video. All of these types of feedback are accessed via the My Grades section on the module’s Blackboard site. Take a look at the video How do I access assessment feedback?

If you have been given assessment feedback via a Blackboard Feedback Rubric, you can access this by clicking View Feedback Rubric in My Grades under the name of the assessment or link to the submission point. It will open up the Rubric in a grid view like this, in a new window.  The grid view allows you to access all of the information available in the rubric, including the criteria against which you were marked and the level of detail required to achieve a certain grade. Here you can see what standard you achieved on different aspects of your work, and also see any additional feedback on specific areas, that your Module Leader/tutor may have provided.  You can use this information to help you understand why you achieved your overall mark, and what is expected of you if you are to improve your grade in the future.

You can also view the Feedback Rubric in list view. This limits the information that can be seen, but allows you to get a brief overview of the standard achieved for each of the criteria.  You can use this limited view to quickly identify your strong points, as well as specific areas of weakness, which you could work on for future assessments. If desired however, you can check the Show Descriptions and Show Feedback boxes to display all the detail that is visible in the grid view, in a list format.  Finally, at the bottom of the Feedback Rubric, there is an option for your Module Leader/tutor to leave overall feedback comments. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see any additional feedback. This is visible in both grid view and list view.

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Inline comments 

If your Module Leader/tutor has added feedback comments directly on your work, click the link to the submission point in My Grades to open the annotated version of your work. Clicking this link will open up a page like showing your submission, and the annotations made on your paper by your Module Leader/tutor.

Audio feedback

Your Module Leader/tutor may provide an audio commentary as feedback on your assessment. This would be uploaded as a separate file alongside your mark. You can access this file by clicking the speech bubble next to your mark. Click on the link to launch the audio file. You might find it helpful to refer back to your original work whilst listening to the recording. Consider taking notes as you listen to audio feedback. This could help you to identify areas you need to improve on in future assessments. Save these notes and refer to them whilst you produce future work. You could also write down any questions you might have regarding what your Module Leader/tutor said about your work, or if there is any part of the recording you do not understand. You can then relay these queries to your Module Leader/tutor in your next seminar, or via email.

Video and screencast feedback

Video feedback is also a form a feedback your Module Leader/tutor might provide for you, and this can be accessed in the same way you access audio feedback. Video feedback could be a recording of your Module Leader/tutor speaking directly to you about your assessment, or could be a screencast recording of your work with audio commentary. This gives your Module Leader/tutor the opportunity to give audio feedback whilst going through your assessment, and potentially adding comments/annotations at the same time. With a screencast you can get an understanding of how your Module Leader/tutor marked your work, and provided feedback, in real time. Again, consider writing down key points your Module Leader/tutor might highlight about your work and any questions you wish to ask regarding your feedback. This will help you to understand why you received the mark you did, and you can use this information to help improve your performance on future assessments. 

Download and save your feedback

Take a look at the guidance on How do I save and print feedback rubrics? You can also read further guidance on where is the best place to save your work.  Previously students were unenrolled from their Blackboard module sites when they were marked as having completed their course. As a consequence, students could not access feedback and learning materials after this point, in some cases giving them a small window to access their feedback. This has now been changed so that students retain access to their Blackboard module sites for approximately three months after they are marked as completed, in line with their University IT access. 

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Assessment grades, boards and appeals

What are assessment boards?

Sheffield Hallam University’s assessment boards are held at the end of each assessment period and ratify students’ assessment results. The responsibilities of the Departmental Assessment Boards are to:

  • ensure that assessment has been conducted in accordance with the definitive document and approved module descriptors.
  • ratify the final moderated marks for each course.
  • ratify individual student assessment profiles leading to progression, continuation and award.
  • ensure that the assessment of students has been conducted in accordance with University regulations (and PSRB requirements where appropriate).
  • address quality assurance issues relating to assessment delivery and processing which require immediate attention, eg. scaling.
  • identify quality assurance issues requiring review for referral to Departmental Boards, eg. modules with high referral rates.

Please see Departmental Assessment Board Policy for further guidance. Following the assessment boards, final results will be communicated. Students are able to view their marks by logging into My Student Record. Please note your marks will be available as soon as your College Department has finalised the results for your course. Read more about understanding your module and task results.

How do I appeal?

For any queries about module marks, you are encouraged and expected to speak with relevant members of staff as early as possible if you require clarification or do not fully understand the impact of a decision or require clarification of a mark awarded for your work. We take seriously all issues raised with us and aim to deal with them in a timely, fair and consistent way. We will ensure that you are not disadvantaged as a result of raising an issue with us. You should speak to or email the member of staff most directly involved with the issue that you have. This is likely to be your Module Leader/tutor. If you are not able to speak to either of these, please contact either one of your specialist advisers or the Student Union Advice Centre or your Student Representative. Your student rep acts as a communication link, bridging the gap between their fellow students and University staff by discussing any issues affecting their educational experience. There are two different types of Student Reps, Course and Department Reps.  If you are not sure who your rep is, contact your course leader for details.

To make a formal appeal against a decision of a Departmental Assessment Board (DAB):

  • DAB decisions are published after each assessment period in the form of ratified marks and grades, and these decisions will confirm whether you can progress to the next level of study and/or have achieved an award. 
  • You can appeal against a result decision which impacts on the application of the pass, progression, award or classification regulations. You must submit your appeal within 10 working days of the date your confirmed results are published on My Student Record. 
  • For information on the process to follow, please refer to the Appeals Policy and ProcedureComplete and submit the Appeal Form.
  • Classifications for undergraduate, integrated masters and taught postgraduate will be calculated using the methods outlined within the current Standard Assessment Regulations, (section 11) with the best classification and overall average being automatically selected.

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Re-assessment

What is In-module Retrieval?

In-module retrieval (IMR) is a process whereby you have an opportunity to rework a piece of coursework that you have submitted where you have not quite reached the minimum pass mark. IMR is only available if you submit coursework at the first attempt opportunity and you achieve a borderline refer mark.  A borderline refer is a mark between 35-39% (UG) or 45-49% (PG).  IMR is not available if you are submitting work at the reassessment opportunity (referral or deferral).  This includes students with Learning Contracts who have been granted an extended deadline to the reassessment period. The IMR attempt gives you an opportunity to understand how using feedback from your original attempt can improve your work and will have benefits across other modules and in your future studies. The IMR attempt is usually completed within a short time-frame following feedback and the reworked coursework that you submit will receive a mark capped at the minimum pass mark. You will not receive further feedback on the IMR attempt, only a mark.

Requests to Repeat an Assessment Attempt and Requests to Extend a Submission Deadline are not available at IMR attempts – this is because IMR takes place within a short space of time after the original submission deadline and your marks must be processed in time for the Assessment Board.  You can decide whether or not you want to engage with the IMR attempt. Whilst is it an opportunity for you to quickly retrieve a failed mark, it is recognised that undertaking in-module retrieval will increase your workload at a time when you may be struggling to meet the requirements of assessment on a number of modules.  If you decide not to engage with the IMR attempt or if you do engage but still do not achieve a pass mark, you will still have your referral opportunity. Take a look at the guidance on Regulations, Policies and Procedures for students in terms of Extenuating Circumstances. 

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Referral / Deferral assessment

Referrals – You will be referred in a module when you do not achieve the minimum module pass mark. For most undergraduate modules this is 40%. For most postgraduate modules this is 50%. Some modules have a different pass mark or stipulate a minimum threshold mark for each assessment task – this will be indicated on the module descriptor.  If you pass your referral, the assessment task will be capped at the minimum pass mark. Your referral will normally take place during the reassessment period in July, unless specified differently for your course.

Deferrals – You will be deferred in a module when your request to repeat an assessment attempt has been accepted due to extenuating circumstances you have reported to us. You have the opportunity to take the assessment task that was affected by the circumstances as if for the first time, i.e. your mark will not be capped (unless you are already at referral stage). A deferral will only be given where you have not passed the module. Your deferral will normally take place during the reassessment period in July, unless specified differently for your course.

Where do I access my referred / deferred coursework? – Your reassessment work will be made available via the relevant Blackboard module site within an area entitled “Reassessment”. If you are having difficulties finding the reassessment work, you should contact your Module Leader. The reassessment submission deadline will normally take place during the reassessment period in July, unless specified differently for your course. Assessment grades and meanings provide guidance on understanding referral/deferral codes used on your results transcript.

Reassessment submission dates

Assessment Statement – If you are referred or deferred in a task, the date for this will be shown in your Assessment Statement as soon as these marks have progressed through the University assessment boards. This can be accessed via MyStudent Record

Blackboard Calendar  If you are referred or deferred in a task, the date for the re-assessment will be shown in the calendar.

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Reassessment examination schedule

The examination schedule is available via your Timetables channel on the My SHU tab. It is also available via the Assessment Channel Link. It is important that you check the dates, times and venues of your referred/deferred examinations and confirm your attendance as soon as the timetable becomes available.  If any information is missing or incorrect on your timetable, please contact the University Examination Service as soon as possible.

Trailing reassessment into the next year

In some circumstances, you may be allowed to take referrals/deferrals during the next year of study alongside the next level.  See Regulation 7.1 of the Standard Assessment Regulations. The reassessment timing for completing continuing reassessments trailing into the next year is the following January. Only final year students have an opportunity to complete reassessment by mid-October in order to achieve an award and attend the University Graduation Ceremony in November. See Assessment grades and meanings for your reference.

Compensation

Compensation applies to levels 4, 5 and 6 only. Compensation is automatically applied once you have made an initial attempt at all modules on the level (i.e. 120 credits). If you subsequently meet the profile for compensation after completing reassessment, compensation will be applied at that point. The profile for compensation which allows you to progress from one complete level to the next or to exit with an award is that you:

  • achieve 40% or more on the complete level overall, including referred modules and;
  • make a valid attempt at all assessment tasks and;
  • achieve 30% or more in each referred module up to a maximum of 20 credits.

If you achieve the profile for compensation (Regulation 6), any compensated modules will be changed to a grade of CP (Compensated Pass) and your student transcript will show credit in the module. Check your course handbook to see if your course or any modules are exempt from compensation due to professional and statutory body requirements

Under Standard Assessment Regulations you will be able to retake the module on one occasion only. Contact your College Student Support Advisors if you are in this situation. There could be Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Body requirements which mean you cannot retake a module – this will be stipulated in course documentation. Please read the guidance on:

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Last updated: 15th September 2022 NB