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Marking and Feedback

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FeedbackThis resource is maintained by the Academic Development & Diversity Team on behalf of our stakeholders.  If you’d like to become a stakeholder and contribute to this resource, have a suggestion for content or just want to offer feedback, click the feedback button and let us know!

Introduction

The Marking and Feedback theme guides you through the different options available for:

  • Marking assessments: allocating work * methods of marking * Blackboard * storage and system issues * originality checking / Turnitin * anonymous marking * grade-based assessments * legibility * deadlines * examinations * 
  • Feedback on assessments: accessible and inclusive methods  *  electronic feedback / non-electronic assessment * feedback on examinations * 3 week turnaround * storage and system issues * 
  • Internal and external moderation: external examiners
  • Recording and returning marks and feedback: Blackboard Grade Centre * deadlines * missing marks * student guidance 

 

Please read the University Rules and Regulations: Assessment and Awards – Policy for verification of assessment and standardisation and moderation of marking (website) in conjunction with the following guidance: 

 

Marking assessments

allocating work * methods of marking * Blackboard * storage and system issues * originality checking / Turnitin * anonymous marking
grade-based assessments * legibility * deadlines * examinations 

Allocating work

Allocation of marking relates to the academic’s teaching related duties, which forms part of an academic’s annual work planning hours. Allocation of marking is decided locally within College departments, between the academic and relevant module leader and logged with the appropriate subject group leader. Please refer to the Academic Work Planning Policy (SP site) 

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Methods of marking

Print to Mark – it is recognised that electronic methods of marking may not always suit all. As such, a print to mark service is offered to all staff that allows the printing of student submissions to allow academic markers to still mark on physical scripts.

The expectation though is that there is an electronic record of feedback still uploaded for Blackboard for the student. Scanned hand written feedback on scripts is not normally considered an appropriate method because of the issue of legibility.

Online marking is the process of using onscreen tools to comment directly on student work. Students are normally required to submit an electronic version online and the annotated work can then be returned as feedback directly to the student through the Grade Centre in Blackboard. Depending on how the student work has been submitted and in what format can determine how the work can be annotated. The TEL Help website hosts various guidance that covers: 

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Blackboard

Blackboard Annotate is the inline grading tool for annotating and providing feedback on student assignment submissions. Its feature set is a significant improvement on the previous inline grading tool, Box View, including a personal content library that will allow each instructor to keep their own bank of re-usable comments which they can use across assignments on all their Blackboard sites. 

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Storage and system issues

The majority of student work generated electronically can be submitted online through Blackboard. However files that are over 250MB cannot be submitted directly as attachments to Blackboard. There are alternative methods to allow students to submit large or medial files electronically for marking.

It is recommended that you do not store any submissions content to local D drives.  Please refer to Digital Technology Service (DTS) guidance on Cloud Storage (SP site) and staff guidelines on the use of IT Facilities (SP site).

If you require additional storage on your personal drive F (all staff get 500mb), a private area on shared N drive or access to the Q drive, contact DTS via the Assyst online portal (SP site), who will consider requests for additional space. 

If system unavailability prevents the marking of work, for example due to being unable to access electronically submitted work, an extended period of time equivalent to the duration of system unavailability (up to 48 hours) is to be allowed to complete the marking and provide feedback to students. A standard message will be placed on Blackboard and College will contact students with further details.  If there is to be a delay in providing feedback to students due to system unavailability, either at the time of marking of the time of releasing feedback, the anticipated feedback date will be communicated to students via the Assessment Scheduler, although if staff can still meet the original turnaround times this is to be encouraged.

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Originality checking / Turnitin

Refer to Submitting / Sitting: Originality Checking / Turnitin guidance. 

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Anonymous marking

Currently, the University operates anonymous marking for examinations only. Anonymity applies to the marking process only. At this stage, the policy has not extended to coursework but a tool is available within Blackboard to assist academics with anonymous marking (within certain constraints). Currently anonymous marking is an option for module leaders but clarity around the approach taken to marking must be published to students at the start of a module.

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Grade-based assessments (GBA)

Traditionally, when individual pieces of work have been marked, the grade has been expressed as a mark from 0-100%.  For individual assessments these are called Grade-Based Assessments.

Please use these resources in conjunction with Assessment Essentials > Course Design > Learning Outcomes for university grade descriptors guidance and resources. 

 

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Legibility

Students are responsible for ensuring that all assessment is presented in a legible form.

  • Coursework – students are normally expected to submit coursework in a typewritten, word-processed or a legible handwritten format. If a student submits a piece of coursework which is illegible, they are required to transcribe the work prior to it being marked. This must be completed under supervision. The student must be formally warned in writing that it is their responsibility to submit work in a legible form and any subsequent pieces of illegible work will receive a zero mark.
  • Examination scripts– likewise students are expected to write examination scripts in a legible form. If an examination script is illegible or difficult to read and the student has not already been formally warned about legibility, the student is required to transcribe the script prior to marking. This must be conducted under supervision. The student must be formally warned in writing that it is their responsibility to submit work in a legible form and any subsequent pieces of illegible work will receive a zero mark.
  • Loss of student assessment material– staff are responsible for taking proper care of students’ assessment material. It is recognised that there may be exceptional circumstances in which assessment material is lost or damaged whilst it is in the possession of the University which prevents or impedes the usual assessment process. Information on how to manage these circumstances is available at Loss of Students’ Assessment Material: January 2017 (PDF).

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Deadlines

Each student is provided with an Assessment Statement for each year of their course at the start of the academic year. This states what assessment tasks need to be completed and what the submission deadlines are. It is intended that this helps students to manage their time and plan carefully to meet all assessment submission deadlines.

Coursework submitted within one working day (24 hours) of the deadline date and time without an authorised extension will receive a mark capped at the minimum pass mark. Coursework submitted beyond that time without an authorised extension will receive a zero mark. The assessment task will be referred (if at first submission) or failed (if at referral submission).

Should the student have any concerns about completing their coursework on time or if you suspect in advance that personal circumstances may cause them to miss a deadline, direct them to their Departmental Student Support Adviser (website). They can request an extension to the coursework submission deadline and will need to complete an extension request form which must be submitted at least 24 hours before the deadline date together with a copy of any uncompleted work and documentary evidence to support the request.

If students have a general problem with prioritising, working under pressure or require specific areas of development The Skills Centre (website) can support and provide guidance to help them develop practical ways of managing their time and workload.

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Examinations  

Refer to Submitting / Sitting: Examinations for guidance.  

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Feedback on assessments

case studies  *  accessible and inclusive methods  * electronic feedback * non-electronic assessment * feedback on examinations * 3 week turnaround
storage and system issues

 

Feedback enables learning by providing information that can be used to improve and enhance future performance. An electronic record of feedback provides improved clarity, addressing legibility of handwritten feedback. Consistency as well as the security and convenience of the medium also provide benefits to students in addition to having access to all feedback for a course online and in one place.

  • Academic Services: Examinations and coursework (SP site): Framework for Feedback on Assessment establishes clarity about how feedback and assessment work to create a rewarding learning experience for students. It is useful to think about this in terms of summative and formative feedback.
  • An electronic record of feedback should be uploaded to Blackboard Grade Centre. 

In order to comply with the TEL Help: Threshold Standards (website), you must articulate how, when and in what format students can expect to receive feedback on their work. The Blackboard Calendar should be used to publish feedback return dates to students.

Exemplars are examples of previous students’ work or examples developed by practitioners that when used in learning activities help students to grasp key concepts, skills, content and assessment standards and criteria. Unlike model answers which are examples of a ‘perfect’ answer, exemplars are examples of varying standards of academic work. 

Case studies:

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Accessible and inclusive methods

Online feedback is the process of returning feedback to students on their work in electronic format online. It is normally coupled with the process of online submission, although feedback can be given online regardless of the format of the original submission. It requires some form of electronic or onscreen marking that allows tutors to use a variety of tools and techniques to provide comprehensive and faster feedback to students. It is designed to address student, staff and institutional requirements for efficiencies in providing timely and engaging feedback.

Inclusive feedback strategies can provide you with some quick practical tips on giving assessment feedback to disabled students.  Take a look at the Disabled Student Support SharePoint site for a range of guidance on providing feedback to your disabled students. 

The use of the Grade Centre within Blackboard is the recommended way for returning feedback to students online. In addition to returning feedback directly and efficiently to students, further benefits afforded include:

  • Enabling students to easily track progress and see how performance on different assessment tasks builds to an overall profile for each of their modules.
  • Presenting marks and feedback alongside learning materials with reference made directly back to materials to review. 

Electronic feedback

Examples of electronic feedback that can be produced and return to students online via the Blackboard Grade Centre might include one or more of the following:

Typed comments and annotations

Speech recognition software

Can be used to generate typed comments and annotations either in the students’ original work or as a separate feedback document. By typing ‘Speech Recognition’ into the Start Menu, this software can be accessed on every University managed desktop pc.

Marking grids and feedback rubrics

Feedback rubrics, also known as marking grids, can usefully show students where and why particular marks were awarded to their assessed work and act as a structure for the provision feedback and feedforward. Similarly, rubric/marking grids can assist the moderation process by providing a record of the standard a marker judged each piece of assessed work demonstrated for each assessment criterion, this enables moderators to see that the criteria have been consistently applied by the marker(s).

Grade descriptors also support staff to provide consistent and meaningful feedback to students about their assessed work. This type of grading practice is called ‘criterion referenced assessment’, i.e. the students work is being judged against precise and explicit criteria that clearly articulate the success criteria, while the degree of achievement is set out in grade descriptors. These can be given to students as rubrics as part of the assessment brief and will be used subsequently in grading using marking schemes.

Module leaders have to make value-based judgements about students work to establish whether a learner has demonstrated their learning outcomes and the level (grade) of the achievement. It is important that all involved in the assessment process share a clear understanding of the basis on which these judgements are made.   TEL Help host a range of guidance on feedback rubrics:

Are systematic methods to produce individual feedback documents that map assessment criteria against comments drawn from pre-defined statement banks, e.g. often designed using an Excel spreadsheet.

It is important to note that when completing feedback rubrics you will need to be connected to the internet at all times. Where marking grids and feedback rubrics are not the sole format of feedback provided, care should be taken to ensure that the feedback provided on these forms complement, and do not contradict any comments annotated on the students’ original work for instance.

Audio feedback/recordings 

Using a variety of portable recording devices and an array of easy-to-use software, such as Audacity (website) markers can 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. However it can separate feedback from the task due to the lack of annotations, and therefore care should be taken to ensure comments are referred back to specific points in the students’ work, as well as clarity of voice and length of recording. Audio feedback is a great way for students to record formative discussions about their work (e.g. in lab sessions) that might be later forgotten. Students may need guidance in accessing and storing this type of feedback. Once an audio recording is complete, it can be treated as any other file and so can be uploaded to Blackboard in a common area for all students or attached as feedback to a grade in the Grade Centre.

Digitised written feedback 

There are situations where paper is the most suitable medium for the students to submit their work, such as handwritten mathematical solutions, or the most appropriate way to record feedback, such as when there is a requirement to complete a standard printed proforma or rubric. However, it may still be possible to return this feedback to the students electronically. A growing proportion of the photocopiers around the institution are capable of scanning multiple sheets in a batch and emailing the results back to the user as images or PDF files, which could then be returned to the students via Blackboard. Alternatively, it may be sufficient to photograph the written feedback using a smartphone or camera and then upload the resulting image to Blackboard.

Discussion Forums

Photos and Screenshots 

Photographs are an extremely effective way to provide feedback on physical artefacts as they offer the ability to show the specific details that are being commented upon. Similarly, screenshots offer the same capability for digital artefacts, such as website and poster designs or videos. Photos can be taken with a smartphone or dedicated camera and, like screenshots, can be readily annotated in a simple graphics package to further highlight points of interest.

Screencast feedback 

Where work has been submitted in an electronic format, 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.

Video feedback/recordings

Portable video recording devices can be positioned in such a way to capture the marker highlighting 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. Like with audio feedback, video feedback is a useful way of recording formative discussions about their work (e.g. in lab sessions or in practice) that might be later forgotten, or recording students undertaking summative tasks such as presentations, creative or visual tasks that could be used to support the feedback given.

Benefits

  • Students have the increased flexibility and convenience of being able to access their feedback at a time and place of their choosing, allowing them to read feedback in private and access it whenever and wherever they are working on future assessments.
  • A variety of feedback formats (e.g. annotated scripts, electronic marking sheets, multimedia elements) can be used to provide more detailed and richer feedback that encourages students to engage with the information provided and make use of it in future assessments.
  • Online feedback is generally more legible than handwritten feedback and can include links to relevant study skills resources, additional learning resources and further reading. In addition, typed comments on-screen have further advantages of increased accessibility, including the ability to display at various sizes, be read aloud by screen reading software and be searched and sorted.
  • It can be quicker to produce more detailed, high-quality feedback as electronic text or recorded audio than writing comments by hand, making it easier to meet the required turnaround times. Feedback can be returned to, and read by, students as soon as marking is complete without the need to carry around and distribute written scripts.
  • Lightweight, portable devices, such as lightweight laptops, tablet PC / iPads, and other mobile technologies, make it easier to carry around large numbers of submissions and related feedback.
  • Administrative processes around distributing student work between markers, external examiners and the students are streamlined by removing the need to move paper submissions between the various people.
  • Paper and ink used in printing feedback sheets, and other costs involved in posting feedback to students is dramatically reduced.
  • Feedback and grades entered electronically can be transferred to other systems without the need to re-enter them, reducing the risk of errors being introduced. 

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Non-electronic assessment

The return of assignment grades and feedback through Blackboard is valued by students as it gathers this important information into a single, known place. As more written assignments are being created and submitted electronically, the benefits of an electronic process for ‘traditional’ assignments is increasingly clear. However, in many disciplines non-written assignments are a major component of the assessment schedule for students. In addition, technology and cultural changes have encouraged many academics to move away from written essay-type assignments and instead use assessments that encourage student creativity, are more constructively aligned to the module learning outcomes and provide opportunities for the development of skills that will be useful after graduation. Even though these types of assessment have not been submitted electronically, there are still benefits to returning some feedback electronically as an adjunct to other methods.  The following are examples of common non-electronically submitted assignments at Hallam and suggestions on ways that the feedback could be captured for electronic return to the students;

  • Observation/Demonstration – assessed observations and demonstrations are widely used in situations where the students are required to have learned a specific procedure. Occasionally, students are required to submit a recording of themselves demonstrating the procedure, but usually this type of assessment is conducted more like a presentation or performance, with the assessor watching the student while they complete the procedure.
  • Potential electronic recording methods – rubrics, electronic documents, audio and video.
  • Presentations/Performances – presentations are an increasingly common assessment method and they can provide an opportunity for students to develop skills, confidence and experience in an activity that they may be required to undertake during their career. Similarly, some disciplines use ‘performances’, including role-play, as an assessment method. In both cases, a large portion of the marking process typically takes place during the activity and feedback is often given directly afterwards.
  • Potential electronic recording methods – rubrics, electronic documents, audio, video and photos.
  • Physical Artefacts – for example artwork, models, handwritten exercises, prototypes. In a wide range of disciplines, students are assessed on their production of a physical object or set of objects. Although in some cases there may be related documents that could be submitted electronically (such as design documentation), generally assessment focuses on the physical artefact. While in some cases there may be a presentation element to the assessment, typically the student will submit the work and the assessor will mark and produce feedback on it at a later point in time.
  • Potential electronic recording methods – rubrics, electronic documents, video, audio, photos and digitised handwritten feedback.
  • Viva – typically, a viva will be a combination of a presentation/demonstration with a discussion and oral feedback. While most frequently used for postgraduate assessment, they are increasingly being used with undergraduate, especially dissertations, as they provide a way to explore a student’s understanding through probing questions and so reduce the potential for plagiarism.
  • Potential electronic recording methods – rubrics, electronic documents and audio.

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Feedback on examinations

Students are requesting a range of feedback options including completed assessment grids and one to one meetings on request. Within the HE sector there are a range of exam feedback practices including generic feedback to class, post-exam open days and individual feedback by the module leader on request.

  • Standard Agreed Approach – the University wishes to ensure that students receive adequate preparation for examinations.
  • The minimum expectation for exam feedback is: to provide one-to-one examination feedback on request by the student.

Module Leaders are responsible for facilitating one-to-one feedback to students on their request. Students are responsible for contacting their Module Leader to request exam feedback (normally within 3 months of sitting an exam). 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. In addition to the above, module/course teams will also provide one additional type of examination feedback, as appropriate, to fit with teaching practice. This may be one of the following;

  • electronic generic feedback (via Blackboard) to a cohort on strengths and weakness of individual questions or the exam in general.
  • drop-in post exam session for feed-forward at the end of a semester or at the start of next semester.
  • individual electronic feedback – assessment grid for all students.
  • individual electronic feedback – written to all students.
  • model answers, where applicable/appropriate.

Examination marks are normally given within 3 working weeks (excluding student vacation periods, i.e. Christmas, Easter and summer breaks).

Provisional examination marks should be included in Blackboard Grade Centre and passed to Academic Administration to be processed in SITS and ratified through the Departmental Assessment Boards (DABs). SITS (via My Student Record) is the only place for students to access their full mark profile across all modules studied. These marks remain provisional until the DABs have taken place and the marks are confirmed.

  • Exam scripts cannot be retained by students, but the content of the script and tutor feedback comments can be used to facilitate feedback.
  • For final year students in their final semester, only one-to-one feedback will be given on request, with priority being given to those students undertaking resits.

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3 week turnaround

For coursework, feedback to students is normally given within 3 working weeks of the coursework submission deadline (excluding student vacation periods, i.e. Christmas, Easter and summer breaks). The University recognises that there are exceptional situations in which the 3 week turnaround is not possible due to externally imposed constraints. Exceptions may be made through discussion with College Assistant Deans for Academic Development.

  • Feedback to students should be given in time to inform subsequent and related coursework and examination assessments.
  • Actively engaging students in the feedback process –  getting students prepared for receiving feedback is crucial to help students engage with it and understand how feedback can help them with their future assignments.

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Storage and system issues 

Refer above to Marking Assessment – storage and system issues for guidance.

  • Staff – All Blackboard module sites remain active while there are students enrolled on the site. Once there are no students enrolled on the module site, the site is automatically archived for a minimum period of 24 months and then manually deleted. During that time a ticket can be submitted via IT Help for the module site to be made available.
  • Students – Previously students were unenrolled from their Blackboard module sites when they were marked as having completed their course in SITS. 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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Internal and external moderation

The moderation of student work such as coursework, practical outputs and examination scripts, ensures the use of agreed marking criteria, comparability and equity of standards and consistency and fairness of marking.

External moderation and External Examiners (EE)

Visit Academic Essentials: Support for course and module design and delivery overview page for a host of guidance.  

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Recording and returning marks and feedback

Blackboard Grade Centre * deadlines * missing marks * student guidance

Blackboard Grade Centre

Grade Centre is used to record students’ marks online and display provisional marks to students. 

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Deadlines

Module Leaders must collate all marks for their module and clearly indicate the marks for each task identifying the tasks and the weightings as per the module descriptor. All task marks must be submitted out of 100 and not pre-weighted according to the task weighting.

TEL Help: how do I prepare my marks spreadsheet for submission to Academic Administration (website) – guidance.

Complete sets of internally moderated marks must be submitted on a spread sheet to Academic Administration by the marks submission deadline. The spread sheet should be in excel format and preferably downloaded from the Grade Centre in Blackboard.

The Academic Administration team will let you know when they require student marks. The marks deadlines are set in accordance with the University academic calendars and to allow the Academic Administration teams to prepare the documentation needed for Departmental Assessment Boards (DABs) and resolve any issues in advance of these boards.

If Academic Administration receive marks after the deadline without prior agreement and it’s too late to process these marks, the results for these students will not show on the relevant Module and Course reports produced for the DABs. Therefore Course and Module leaders will not be able to consider all the student profiles at the DABs and these students may not receive the outcome of their results by the final results deadline. Following the DABs, final results will be communicated to students through MyStudentRecord (SITS). All staff have access to MyStudentRecord using their network username and password. 

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Missing marks

There are number of possible reasons for student marks being missing:

  • A student may have had an extension to their submission deadline and therefore has not yet submitted their work.
  • A piece of work may not have been marked due to an oversight.
  • A student may have left the module or course.

Please note the reason on the marks spreadsheet so that the student doesn’t receive a zero mark inadvertently. If you cannot locate a missing piece of work and corresponding mark, please contact your College and Departmental Links for further advice.

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Student guidance

TEL Help: enter and release provisional marks and feedback in Grade Centre submitted online together with expected turnaround times (website) – guidance.

Coursework

Feedback to students is normally given within 3 working weeks of the coursework submission deadline (excluding student vacation periods, i.e. Christmas, Easter and summer breaks). The University recognises that there are exceptional situations in which the 3 week turnaround is not possible due to externally imposed constraints. Exceptions may be made through discussion with College Assistant Deans for Academic Development. Feedback to students should be given in time to inform subsequent and related coursework and examination assessments.

Examinations

Feedback to students should be given in time to inform subsequent and related coursework and examination assessments. Refer to Submitting / Sitting > Examinations for guidance.  

Resources

There’s a range of guidance currently available to students on how to access their marks and feedback to embed in the Assessment Content Area of your Blackboard site.

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Last updated:11th May 2022 NB