Category Archives: Decisions

Other online assessment and feedback tools

There are a range of online assessment and feedback tools that may be better suited to your needs (and those of your students).

Group Work

  • WebPA allows students to assess each others contribution to group work. Contact OLAF Admin.


Turnitin now provides tools for giving students feedback and facilitating Peer feedback on written work in addition to plagiarism checking:

  • Turnitin Feedback Studio – Mark essays and access feedback online. Includes reusable comments and marking Rubrics.
  • PeerMark – Allows students to score and review the work of their peers.

Maths, Statistics and other disciplines

NUMBAs – Whilst some mathematical testing is possible though Blackboard, NUMBAs, developed by the School of Mathematics and Statistics here at Newcastle, offers more sophisticated assessment. It is used by several schools across the institution. See also

Negative Marking

It is possible to use negative marking through Blackboard. Before deciding to use negative marking you need to:

  • Consider whether negative marking tests student’s strategy to risk taking rather than their knowledge of your subject. See Times Higher Education article.
  • Read up on the literature that suggests there may be a gender bias. Example study. 

If you decide you are going to use negative marking you should:

  • Ensure your students are fully aware of the marking and the consequences of guessing. Ideally, they will have experienced a negatively marked practice exam.
  • Understand that the negative marking is not part of our conversion process from a Word document through Respondus. We will work with you to set up the negative marking the first time you use it. You will need to allow us more time to set this up. We will ask you to then amend the online version of the exam in future years, rather than start from a Word document.

Randomised tests

On request, we can randomise the order in which the questions in an OLAF exam appear to students. This can be:

  • Completely randomised. Students would see the test in an entirely different order.
  • Randomised in sections. For example, there might be a section on Marx followed by a section on Hegel. Students would see the sections in the same order, but questions within each section in a different order

Randomising the questions makes checking the exam before it takes place trickier. You might need to allow extra set up time if using this option.