Feedback and marking

Feedback has a significant impact on learning. The main objectives of feedback are to justify to students how their mark or grade was derived, to identify and reward specific qualities in student work, guide students on what steps to take to improve, motivate them to act on their assessment, and to develop their capability to engage in their own learning.

To benefit student learning, feedback needs to be:

  • Constructive – As well as highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of a piece of work, it should set out ways in which the student can improve.
  • Timely – Give feedback while the assessed work is still fresh in a  student's mind, and before they move onto subsequent tasks.
  • Meaningful – It needs to target individual needs and be linked to specific assessment criteria.

Formative feedback

The goal of formative assessment is to monitor student learning to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by instructors to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning.  Therefore formative feedback is best given early in the course, and prior to summative assessments. Formative feedback helps students to improve and prevent them from making the same mistakes again.  In some cases, feedback is required before students can progress, or feel capable of progressing, to the next stage of the assessment.

Summative feedback

The goal of summative assessment is to evaluate student learning at the end of an instructional unit by comparing it against some standard or benchmark. Therefore summative feedback are detailed comments that are related to specific aspects of their work, clearly explains how the mark was derived from the criteria provided and additional constructive comments on how the work could be improved.

Marking criteria – Marking guides

A marking guide is a means of communicating broad expectations for an assignment, providing feedback on works in progress, and grading final products. It is a document that articulates the expectations for an assignment by listing the criteria or elements and describing the various levels of quality from excellent to poor. Students receive a list of expectations required for each component of the task, within a range. A marking guide differs from a rubric in that each criteria is given a range, not a specific point value.

For example:

  • Excellent 8-10
  • Good 5-7
  • Poor 2-4
  • Unsatisfactory 0-1

Marking guides on Moodle

Once developed, the marking guide can form part of the submission link on Moodle. This allows staff to complete the marking criteria online with a click of the mouse!  Check out how to do this via the eLearning Hub.

Marking criteria – Rubrics

A rubric is a means of communicating specific expectations for an assignment, providing focused feedback on works in progress, and grading final products. It is a document that articulates the expectations for an assignment by listing the specific criteria or elements and describing the various levels of quality from excellent to poor. Students receive a comprehensive list of expectations required for each component of the task.  A rubric differs from a marking guide in that each criteria is given a specific point value, not a range.

For example:

  • Excellent 5
  • Substantial 4
  • Moderate 3
  • Minimal 2
  • Poor 1
  • Unsatisfactory 0

Rubrics are often used to grade student work but more importantly, they also have the role of teaching as well as evaluating.  When used as part of a formative, student-centred approach to assessment, rubrics have the potential to help students develop understanding and skill, as well as make dependable judgments about the quality of their own work. Students should be able to use rubrics in many of the same ways that teachers use them—to clarify the standards for a quality performance, and to guide ongoing feedback about progress toward those standards.

Creating rubrics

Whilst the advantages of using a rubrics are evident, they can be quite time-consuming to develop initially. Before you get started, check out the Rubistar website developed by the University of Kansas to assist you in creating quality rubrics.  They provide templates for many common assessment tasks, giving you a foundation to build your specific rubric for your specific assessment task marking criteria.

Rubrics on Moodle

Once developed, the rubrics can form part of the submission link on Moodle. This allows staff to complete the marking criteria online with a click of the mouse!  Check out how to do this on the eLearning Hub.

Moderation

Moderation is a quality assurance process by which an individual or group not involved in setting or marking an assessment task confirms that assessment is continuously conducted with accuracy, consistency and fairness. Moderation contributes to the continuous improvement of assessment practice and to sharing good practice among colleagues.

  • Pre-Assessment Moderation: Pre-assessment moderation validates the appropriateness, fairness, clarity, accuracy and standard of assessment tasks and materials before they are used for assessment.  
  • Post-Assessment Moderation: Post-assessment moderation checks marking by moderating a designated sample of marked student work to ensure that markers are making consistent and accurate assessment decisions, in accordance with published assessment criteria.

Please check with your Faculty for specific policies relating to moderation of assessment tasks in your School.  

University policy and resources

View more information about Assessment Policies and Procedures

Where can I get support?

Each faculty has their own embedded course design contacts and/or Associate Dean of Learning and Teaching who can provide advice on feedback and marking of assessments in your course.  Alternatively, CLIPP staff can provide help.

Additional information

UNSW – Grading and Giving Feedback