Marking during semester

Hardcopy submissions    Grading criteria & the marking process   Resources on marking
Online submissions        

Organising your marking

First year units often have large numbers of students, which means that the marking process can be very time consuming. It is important to be well organised and prepared, since prompt feedback to students during semester is essential for their ongoing learning.

Key areas to think about are your system for assessment submissions, your grading criteria and the marking process. Make sure to also look at our suggestions for giving feedback during semester.

Assessment Submissions

Hardcopy assessment submissions
If your assessments are submitted as hardcopies, and not online, then you will need to consider the following to make the process fair and efficient.

  • You will need an efficient method of knowing who has or has not submitted the required work.
  • In some faculties the admin support staff collect submissions from drop boxes and distribute them to teaching staff. The larger your class group, the more necessary it is to set up procedures with admin staff, such as date stamping or giving students receipts. Don’t forget to let the admin colleagues know when your assessments are due in the drop boxes (the date and time), so they can collect them not long after the appointed hour on the designated day.
  • In small classes, you may find that if students submit their assessment tasks in the classroom, you can monitor late work more effectively. Be very careful, though, that you do not misplace any papers on your way back to your office, and that you note carefully who has not submitted.
  • Don't use the "slip it under my door" method, as this invariably leads to lost work, and sometimes even claims of submissions that cannot be traced.
  • When returning work it is not appropriate to just place it in a box outside your door. There is no privacy in this situation, since students may view each other’s results. In addition, work can easily be lost this way as well.

Online submissions
The process can be much easier and more efficient if your assessment tasks are able to be submitted online, through your eLearning site. This then allows you to monitor late submissions, and to establish an efficient method for distributing the work to the marking team.

  • If you are using online submissions, and this process is not familiar for students, make sure that all students are aware that this is the way it will be done. Several students turning up with hard-copy submissions could create problems for how you’ve set up your marking systems.
  • Even if you prefer to mark hard copies and so require students to submit these as well, you can also ask them to submit a soft-copy through the eLearning system. In this way you can ensure that no assignments go astray and clear records of the date of submission are easily kept.
students in EIT

Grading criteria and the marking process

To ensure fairness and equity in marking, you need to establish clear assessment standards and consistent marking criteria. This is particularly important in large classes where different members of your teaching team, whether sessional staff or other colleagues, will be grading the same assessment tasks.

  • Consider how to divide up the marking. If the assessment task involves a number of different questions, it may be fairest and most efficient to divide up the marking by question. If students were given a choice of topic, perhaps you might divide the marking according to the expertise in the team. Alternatively, you may ask each tutor to mark the work of students in their own group, in order to ensure they can observe their students’ learning development and give progressive feedback throughout the semester.
  • If sessional staff are new to the job, you may need to model marking processes first, or monitor their marking processes. Consider getting experienced and inexperienced staff to mark samples of students’ work together, at an early stage in the marking process.
  • Use grading criteria to establish a baseline, and make sure students know about these while they are working on their assessment tasks.
  • Draw up a marking rubric that will allow all markers to assess the same criteria. This Essay Marking Rubric, from Rick Benitez in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, shows how you can tabulate your marking criteria.
  • Remember to give students quality individualised feedback wherever possible, and make sure that your teaching team does the same. However, this can make marking very time-consuming, especially for large groups. See our section on Feedback during semester for some tips and innovative ideas to support you in this process.
  • Think about whether and how you will moderate marks submitted by your teaching team. Depending on the spread of results, you may need to consider top, bottom and average marks for each marker, and look at samples of work at each level, before finalising the results. Double marking of at least 10% of papers is also good practice that can reveal any problems with different standards.
  • It is important that you inform students of their results as promptly as possible. This provides timely feedback on their performance and allows them plenty of time to implement improvements before their final assessment.

Resources on marking

The Arts Teaching and Learning Network Assessment site has a broad overview of marking issues, including tips, templates and guides and further reading. You will need to log in with your unikey. The site is accessible to all University staff.

You will find a good summary of approaches to marking, including examples, tips and other resources on the Business School’s Teaching for Learning site.

Rick Benitez from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences has also provided Five tips for effective marking.