Using GradeMark to undertake online marking to improve feedback and engage students in the marking process.

Dr Alison Graham , Senior Lecturer

School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

Science, Agriculture and Engineering

What did you do?

Utilised GradeMark to provide assignment-specific marking criteria and feedback and engage students in the feedback cycle.

Who is involved?

Alison Graham – School of Biology (now part of the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences)– Finalist for this work in the Turnitin Global Innovation Awards 2015 in the student engagement category.

How do you do it?

Assessment criteria and comment libraries specific to each piece of work were developed in order to provide feedback on assignments that linked directly to the marking rubric. These libraries provided a range of comments which related to that assignment, which could be added directly to students’ work providing feedback on where to improve, in addition to the free text comments written and added by assessors. The qualitative marking rubric was integrated into GradeMark, appearing as a series of boxes which give the students a visual indication of where their assignment sat on each strand of the marking criteria.

This meant that at one glance the student can distinguish the particular areas that were strong and those that which need work. This was supported by the language of the feedback library, which mirrored that of each level of the specific marking criteria, enabling students to understand why the given mark was awarded. Students were engaged in the process through timetabled in-course sessions which went through the marking rubric in advance These sessions improve students’ understanding of the basis on which their work was assessed.

Why do you do it?

A number of sources, including the staff- student committees and National Student Survey, had shown that students were unhappy with the feedback they were receiving. Specifically this was in regard to the detail and specificity of the feedback for any given assignment. Alison was also keen for the assessment and marking process to be more transparent and to engage students in the feedback cycle. She wanted to ensure consistency on modules with a number of teaching staff and saw that there was scope to make the marking process more efficient for colleagues.

Does it work?

Yes, having used this approach with a number of modules it is clear that it is beneficial for both staff and students. A focus group with students showed that 100% of students preferred electronic feedback to feedback on a pro forma or mark sheet, and 100% noted that the comments they received were specific to the piece of work. 75% found it useful to have the marking criteria in advance.

The modules using this approach have scored highly in module feedback, with a significant proportion of students in agreement with the statement “I have received helpful feedback during the module”.

For staff the process of marking assignments is quicker and there is more consistency over team-taught modules. Furthermore integrating the marking rubric means data can be easily generated to show how students are performing in relation to each element of the assessment, highlighting for the module convenor areas which need more teaching time. Having initially taking this approach with a single module, it is not being used for modules at all stages and this approach is being used across a number of schools.

Contact Details

Dr Alison Graham, Senior Lecturer


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