Streamlining Grading and Feedback

Assessments are a critical component of the teaching/learning process, but marking can be a frustrating experience for faculty. It is important to maximize feedback to students in order to help them achieve the learning goals, but providing feedback can be time-consuming and onerous.  This document is intended to provide some tips for streamlining the process.

“As teachers, our goal is to maximize the help we give students while keeping our own workloads manageable.” (Bean, 2011, p.267)

Starting with the why means focusing on why the assessment is important. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What knowledge/skills do I want students to achieve by completing this task?
  2. Why is the task meaningful- i.e. why should students care about the learning goals.

Starting with they why means that when you provide feedback to students, you keep it focused on the learning goals and eliminate feedback related to other, less important features of the assessment. For example, spelling/grammar/structure issues can be noted without being corrected, unless of course, the point of the assessment is to write with appropriate spelling, grammar, and structure. If not, direct students to resources related to these rather than correcting it all.

There are many online writing resources, and a number of these can found on the web page for the Writing Centre at Georgian College. The webpage also contains details about setting up appointments for one-on-one support.

Rubrics are excellent tools for helping students understand expectations and for streamlining marking. Design rubrics based on the learning goals you have outlined for the task. This will keep feedback specific to supporting students in accomplishing the learning. There are many online resources for designing rubrics, here are a couple to get you started:

Another option to consider is the use of digital rubrics that can be tied to Blackboard Assignments, Discussion Boards, Blogs, Journals, etc. and used as a digital grading tool to provide feedback. For more information about how to get started creating and using rubrics within Blackboard, please access the resources below.

Designing self-assessments or peer-assessments related to learning goals can be extremely helpful with assessments. You can use rubrics or a series of questions related to specific aspects of the assessment you want them to focus on. Once again, it is best to focus this on the learning goals of the assessment to maximize learning.

You can have students complete a peer or self-assessment on a draft version of an assessment prior to submitting a final version. The peer or self-assessment can be a component of the grade, or a requirement for final submission. Using self or peer assessments will reduce marking time, help students understand the expectations of the assessment, and will lead to the submission of higher quality work.

Here are some online resources on peer and self-assessments:

One question you can ask yourself about your assessment: is it necessary for this assessment to be completed individually, or are there benefits to collaborative work? Once again, return to your learning goals and consider the real-life context in which the knowledge/skills will be used. Under real world conditions, would the individual have access to resources for solving the problem? Would the individual have the opportunity to discuss with team members in the workplace, or be expected to address issues alone?

Some examples of simple collaborative tools would include: collaborative quizzes, collaborative case studies, and collaborative writing.

Collaboration can lead to powerful learning experiences, but should be structured appropriately to ensure there is both individual and group accountability. Here are some resources to get you started.

Blackboard Assignments

With assignments, you can create coursework and manage the grades and feedback for each student separately. You can create assignments in content areas, learning modules, lesson plans, and folders.

When you create an assignment, a Grade Center column is created automatically. From the Grade Center or Needs Grading page, you can see who has submitted their work and start grading. Students access their grades from their My Grades pages or the assignment’s Review Submission History page.

Turnitin Assignments

Turnitin is an electronic text matching system that compares text in a student assignment against a database of sources. The database contains copies of electronic text on the Internet, in published works, on commercial databases, and in assignments previously submitted to Turnitin by students in universities all over the world, including assignments obtained from internet sites that sell student papers.

Turnitin provides an Originality Report in which ‘matched’ text is underlined, colour coded, and linked to either the original source or a similar document on its database. The report also provides an indication of the proportion of the submitted work that matches other sources called the Similarity Index.

At Georgian College faculty have the ability to create Turnitin assignments through a seamless integration with our Blackboard Learning Management System. Turnitin is not only useful to detect similarities between papers and essays, it is a valuable tool that can be used to give personalized feedback to students as well. Please have a look at the videos to the right to learn more about how to setup a Turnitin assignment, view originality reports and give feedback.

Create Online Quizzes and Tests

You can use tests and surveys to measure student knowledge, gauge progress, and gather information from students. It is important to remind your students that they should use a wired connection when they take tests. Wireless connections are more prone to network issues.

Using Respondus to Import Test Banks

Respondus is a powerful tool for creating and managing tests and exams that can be printed to paper or published directly to Blackboard. Tests and exams can be created offline using MS Word or a plain text editor such as Notepad or TextEdit and imported directly into Blackboard for easier, streamlined test or test bank creation. For more information about how to get access to Respondus please visit the Respondus page on the Employee Portal (login required).

Remark Test Grading Software

​Remark is an Optical Mark Recognition program that allows Instructors to administer a paper based test using specifically designed Remark forms, scan the completed papers and automatically generate grades & reports. The grades and reports can be e-mailed to the Instructor if desired. If you would like to learn more about using the Remark system, it is recommended that you visit the Employee Portal (login required) or contact the Centre for Teaching and Learning via email at [email protected].