Unit 2: Marking Assignments and Giving Feedback
Assignments should not only give the instructor information about how well students are meeting the course learning outcomes, but should also give students guidance on what they are doing well and where they need to improve. Schools and programs have policies and guidelines about grading - discuss these with program heads and program staff before your course starts so that you are well prepared. For instance, if you have 30 assignments coming in on Friday, how long will it take you to mark them so students can have feedback before they start their next assignment? What is your school or program's expectation for turnaround? What sort of feedback will be most beneficial to students? How much feedback is enough? How much is too much? Even experienced faculty ponder these questions.Talk it over with your Program Head/Intellectual Lead and review some of the CTET resources.
Clarity of assignment
First, be sure that you understand the assignment and that you have thought about - specifically - what you hope student submissions will look like (parts, sub-parts, quality, depth, etc.) Second, be sure that you have communicated this information as best you can to your students. Many instructors use assessment rubrics or marking guides to ensure students and instructor are clear about what success looks like for each assignment. Talk with your CTET instructional designer or contact CTET Studio for help with rubrics. Hopefully, this clarity around expectations has been built into the course. If not, there is an opportunity to post additional information about an assignment and/or to clarify during an optional synchronous session using a tool like Collaborate Ultra.
Students will post their completed assignments in Moodle. They are time-stamped so that you know whether they have been submitted on time or were posted late. (Be sure that you know and adhere to your school’s Late Policy. Contact the Program Office if you are unclear.)
You can download, mark, and upload marked assignments with feedback individually, or you can download all assignments at once, mark them and return them all, using the zip option. Learn more about how to do this by searching the Computer Services knowledgebase or by exploring this chapter: Moodle - Grading. If you are finding the process of grading tricky to navigate, contact CTET Studio - we can walk you through the steps and answer any questions you may have.
Giving Good Feedback
Students need more than a grade and brief comments such as “Nice work” or “Needs Improvement”. Remember that feedback on an assignment usually has multiple purposes:
- Clear evaluation of the submission: In what ways did it meet expectations (Learning Outcomes)? In what ways did it miss the mark (Learning Outcomes)?
- Suggestions for improving future submissions: What should the student keep in mind as they work on future assignments? What, specifically, can be improved?
- Motivation: Feedback should identify ways to improve and, as much as possible, be phased in positive terms. Motivate the student to do better. Try not to be too discouraging. This does not mean that you should be ‘an easy grader’ or ignore poor work. Try to strike a good balance between constructive criticism and encouragement.
For help with giving meaningful feedback, talk with your CTET instructional designer or contact CTET Studio. You may also wish to review further resources on providing feedback:
- Providing Meaningful Feedback to Students from Grading Student Work, Vanderbilt University, The Center for Teaching:
- Use your comments to teach rather than to justify your grade, focusing on what you’d most like students to address in future work.
- Link your comments and feedback to the goals for an assignment.
- Comment primarily on patterns — representative strengths and weaknesses.
- Avoid over-commenting or “picking apart” students’ work.
- In your final comments, ask questions that will guide further inquiry by students rather than provide answers for them.
- Teaching Students How to Manage Feedback, Karen Sheriff LeVan and Marissa E. King, Faculty Focus November 2016
- Giving feedback on student writing, from the RRU Writing Centre
Submitting Final Course Grades
After the course end date, you’ll receive notification that you need to submit final course grades (by approximately 10 business days after the course end date). In some schools and programs, instructors submit grades to program staff. In most schools, instructors submit grades through Moodle.
If you are in the latter situation:
Finish marking all assignments and then go to the grades area of your course to review the final marks. If everything looks right, click the “Finished Grading” button to send the grades to the Grade Approver and on to the Registrar. It is very difficult (but not impossible) to change a course grade once you have clicked the "Finished Grading button", so be sure to look everything over and feel confident that you are submitting the right grades. See Grade Approver Processfor more information.
This resources from the Computer Services knowledgebase will provide help with understanding "Grades" in Moodle: Moodle Grading.