School of Biology Gets National Recognition for Innovative Assessment Feedback

Do your students complain about the feedback they receive on assessments?

Are you interested in a more efficient marking process, which engages students and increases student satisfaction?

Alison Graham from the School of Biology, was a runner-up in this year’s Turnitin Global Innovation Awards because of her innovative use of GradeMark and Turnitin.

Alison integrates marking rubrics written specifically for each assessment into GradeMark and produces libraries of comments for that assignment.

She was a runner-up in the Student Engagement Category of the international competition.

These comments can be added directly to students’ work, noting how they can improve and providing more detail than possible on pro formas. Alongside these assessors can add free text comments specific to the individual student’s work.

School of Biology’s Alison Graham

Students like it because the can quickly see the areas which they need to improve on. Integrating the marking rubric into GradeMark gives the students a visual indication of where their work is at on each strand of the marking criteria, giving a useful level of detail to the single overall mark.

[The rubric] was the most useful aspect of the electronic feedback as this helped me to gauge which areas of the assignment I was lacking and therefore where I would need to focus my improvement for future work. It also helped me to understand why I had received the mark I had in relation to the marking criteria for each section and thus why my overall grade was within a certain grade boundary.Student feedback on the system

For staff the system, once in place, made marking quicker and more efficient. Online marking removes the logistics of lugging around paper copies of work, and the bank of library comments mean that common issues on the work can be quickly responded to with detailed, relevant and specific feedback.

Alison notes that “Markers are not restricted by the space in the margins and online marking removes any issues with students being unable to read handwriting”

Using GradeMark also leads to a greater consistency of marking on modules which are team-taught.

Alison has found that engaging students in the marking process, through timetabled sessions, helps them to understand the reasons for the marks they are getting. Modules using GradeMark consistently perform highly on the module feedback surveys, and on the National Student Survey there has been an increase in students agreeing that “The criteria used in marking have been clear in advance”.

This approach is now being used by a number of staff in the School of Biology and elsewhere, and online marking through GradeMark has clear potential to be used by staff in all departments across the university.

If you’re interested in finding out more about GradeMark and integrating it into your own teaching, we can help you. Get in touch with LTDS at, you can see other examples of good practice using Grademark and Turnitin in our Case Studies database.

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