Developing consistent marking and feedback in Learn

Background

More and more Schools within Loughborough University are looking at ways in which they can develop consistency within marking and feedback. Additionally, they are moving towards online submission to support this. As a result, colleagues are looking at ways that they can use rubrics or grid marking schemes to feedback electronically in an efficient and timely manner.

Philip Dawson, (2017) reported that:

“Rubrics can support development of consistency in marking and feedback; speed up giving feedback to save time for feed-forward to students; and can additionally be used pre-assessment with students to enable a framework for self-assessment prior to submission.”  (p. 347-360.)

There are several types of rubrics and marking guides available within Learn and these take on different forms within different activities. Each has different requirements and results. This can make the process of transitioning to online marking a daunting process and, as we found recently, requires a carefully thought out approach.

Loughborough Design School recently made the move to online submission and online marking using the Learn Assignment Activity. Following this decision, we ran several workshops to assist staff with making the transition and specifically a rubric workshop. This blog post explores, explains and offers some options to the issues we encountered in the School and that we are facing more widely across the University.

What is the challenge?

Staff are already using hard-copy versions of feedback sheets that replicate the aims of having a rubric (i.e. consistency of marking and feedback), but many of these existing rubrics do not neatly transition into the Learn Assignment Activity and require a blend of features.

For example, a common feature of rubrics is that as well as providing a set of levels for criteria they often have a space provided to put in a specific mark e.g. 9 out of ten for a specific piece of criteria. This level of granularity can be the difference between a 1st class honours degree and a 2:1 class degree and, crucially, it allows students the opportunity to see where they can gain marks. Rubrics in the Learn Assignment Activity do not allow for this type of granularity – you can assign a range to a level e.g. 60-70% but not a specific mark within this range.

What’s the difference between the Learn Assignment Activity and Turnitin Feedback Studio rubrics?

What’s the difference between a rubric and a marking guide?

A rubric aligns marking criteria with fixed levels of attainment. For instance, a rubric may feature several criteria with attainment levels stretching from Fail, Poor, Average, good and excellent and within these levels a description will inform the student (and tutor) of where they have been awarded and lost marks:

A marking guide is more flexible and simplistic in what it offers. You still have criteria, but instead of levels, the tutor is expected to give a qualitative summary of how they feel the student performed and a mark for the criteria:

 

For both the rubric and marking guide, the criteria can be weighted to reflect the components importance in the overall mark.

Moving forward

The Centre for Academic, Professional and Organisational Development plan to offer a new Rubric workshop in Semester 2 of the 1819 academic year. The aim of this workshop will be to provide clear guidance on the benefits, use and technical considerations behind rubrics and marking guides. Existing workshops can be found on the following page: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/cap/courses-workshops/

We’ll continue to work with Schools and support academics on a one-to-one basis where requested. We recognise that every case is different and recommend getting in touch with the Technology Enhanced Learning Officer and Academic Practice Developer within your School for further support.

Discussions will also continue with Turnitin.co.uk and the Moodle (the system behind Learn) community so we can stay ahead of changes and new rubric features as they arrive.

References

[Phillip Dawson (2017) Assessment rubrics: towards clearer and more replicable design, research and practice, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 42:3, p.347-360.]

 

 

Bridging the Feedback Gap

It is a common occurrence to hear staff express concerns about how feedback is used, but it’s often unclear what the expectations around feedback are for both students and staff.

Simon Martin, Department of Materials (AACME), recently a conducted a survey that was aimed at establishing just how much student and staff attitudes to feedback differ, and how these gaps might be bridged. With the help from the Materials’ Programme President, Alex Marrs, a short on-line survey was sent out to students within the Department. Materials staff were invited to take part in an identical survey.
Bridge
Concerns and issues experienced by staff and students surrounding assessment feedback indicated many similarities and a few differences giving potential clues to ways forward to improve the effectiveness of feedback.

The results of the survey were shared with School staff at a recent lunchtime Learning and Teaching workshop aimed at finding ways to make feedback more relevant, effective and meaningful for students whilst also making it manageable and sustainable for academics to deliver.

AACME’s regular L&T workshops focus on considering, challenging and developing practice.

If you wish to know more about the survey results, methodology and indicated outcomes Simon Martin is happy to be contacted directly (s.j.martin@lboro.ac.uk) for further information.

Feedback practice was also the focus of a staff/student Teaching Innovation Award last year in SSEHS. The final report of Harry Lane, Emma Giles, Dr Emma Haycraft and Dr Hilary McDermott’s project ‘Developing a common language: Enhancing communication and feedback’ is available on the 2015 awards section of the CAP website (http://www.lboro.ac.uk/services/cap/procedures-schemes/teaching-awards/teaching-innovation-awards/)

Loughborough Academics Publish Research in Prestigious Journal

2010 Teaching Innovation Awards winners, Dr Lawrence Leger and Dr Karligash Glass (Kenjegalieva), have recently published their work in Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education.  Their research article, ‘What if best practice is too expensive? Feedback on oral presentations and efficient use of resources’, suggests that ‘less resource-intensive [teaching and learning] methods need not compromise learning outcomes’. [1]

To read their article, click on the link below:

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2015.1109054

[1] Lawrence A. Leger, Karligash Glass, Paraskevi Katsiampa, ShiboLiu & Kavita Sirichand (2015): What if best practice is too expensive? Feedback on oral presentations and efficient use of resources, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2015.1109054, p.1.

Quick reference guide for staff on feedback

Focus on feedback

In this last blog post in ‘Focus On… Feedback’ month, Dr Valerie Pinfield, who is a lecturer in Chemical Engineering, shares her thinking on giving feedback to students.

I wanted to produce a quick-reference guide for staff to check the feedback that we/they are giving to students, and ensure that it has the effect of improving performance. I based the mnemonic on articles by Bright (2010) and Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006) and on a resource by the University of Reading (2015). These articles do not provide a simple easily-accessed summary of what feedback should look like, so I compiled a list of keywords to construct the mnemonic below. Bear in mind that the resource was intended for staff in chemical engineering, so one of the elements is “technical” which may not apply in other subject areas.

ASPECTS reference cardf

 

Perhaps this easy guide to feedback could be of use in your own department? Any feedback on it will be welcome.

Bright, K (2010) Providing individual written feedback on formative and summative assessments. Higher Education Academy, UK Centre for Legal Education. Available at http://78.158.56.101/archive/law/resources/assessment-and-feedback/effectivefeedback/index.html Accessed on 20/02/2015.

Nicol, D and Macfarlane-Dick (2006) Rethinking formative assessment in HE: a theoretical model and seven principles of good feedback practice, Higher Education Academy, Available at: http://www-new1.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/documents/assessment/web0015_rethinking_formative_assessment_in_he.pdf Accessed on 20/02/2015.

University of Reading (2015) Engage in Feedback, including Feedback Audit Tool. Available at http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/engageinfeedback/efb-Home.aspx Accessed on 20/02/2015.

QuickMark(ing)

Focus on feedbackThere is accumulating evidence that on-line marking and feedback can be more effective and efficient than traditional paper-based methods. Thus using technology, to deliver feedback can have several benefits:

  • It allows us to provide more feedback in less time through the use of repeated comments;
  • It helps provide more detailed feedback through the use of in-text annotations and general comments;
  • It can help develop a stronger link between marking criteria, feedback and the grade through the additional use of a rubric.

What is GradeMark?

GradeMark is an on-line marking system which is part of Turnitin (often used to check originality), and can be accessed via Learn. Continue reading

Helping students engage with feedback

Focus on feedbackA common concern expressed by staff is that students do not make full use of the feedback provided.

Given the huge investment of time and energy in the assessment process by staff and students, this does seem to be an area worthy of further consideration.

Research indicates that staff and student views about feedback do not always coincide – staff believe that the feedback they provide will aid student learning yet students state that they do not understand the feedback nor do they know how to seek support to improve. This situation is compounded by students being unsure of their role within the assessment process and being unprepared to receive and act on feedback.

So what can be done? Continue reading

Feedback Research – CEDE

Focus on feedbackThree years ago, a number of Engineering Schools approached The Centre for Engineering and Design Education (CEDE), requesting the Centre’s help to unpick, from the students’ perspective, the assessment and feedback issues that were being highlighted by the National Student Survey (NSS).  Their goal was to identify what the School could do strategically to enhance further the quality of the feedback given to their students.  This research has led to two further follow on studies.  Together, the three studies explored a number of areas, including but not limited to:

  1. Undergraduate and taught post graduate student expectations of assessment and feedback and how these expectations may differ
  2. How students use the feedback they receive
  3. The factors that impede student use of feedback

This work, although based on research undertaken in the Engineering Schools at Loughborough University, has findings and outputs that may be of relevance to staff in Schools across campus.

A feedback digest was produced from the findings of the research and circulated to teaching staff in the participating Schools.  This resource provides advice on creating effective feedback and contains annotated examples of feedback that, from the student perspective, meet, exceed or fall below their expectations.  This resource may be found at http://eden-share.lboro.ac.uk/id/item/59/, please login first with your University Login at http://eden-share.lboro.ac.uk/ before clicking the preceding link.

Findings from the research have been presented at the HEA STEM Annual Learning and Teaching Conference 2013: Where practice and pedagogy meet which was hosted by the University of Birmingham from 17th to 18th April 2013. The paper is available here.  The most recent findings will be presented at the INTED2015 9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference which will take place in Madrid from the 2nd – 4th March 2015.

Key findings from the studies include:

  1. The NSS appears to be the first real opportunity for students to consider their overall feedback experience.
  2. Students recognise a variety of forms of feedback, not just individual written feedback.
  3. The provision of feedback in more than one form helps to raise the perceived standard of the feedback quality and has the potential to delight students.
  4. Postgraduate students look for the same things in feedback as undergraduates. However, they expect more from their feedback, of key importance is detail.
  5. Students do not always know how to use their feedback to feed forward effectively.
  6. The environment within which students receive their feedback is critical. In cultivating a positive feedback environment, consideration needs to be given to how (setting, timing, individual copies) feedback is returned to students.

 

TurnItIn for any assignment

TurnItIn have recently announced their Grade Anything initiative, which allows the system to accept files of any type for evaluation.  Obviously the text-matching will only work with files containing text.  However the GradeMark online marking tool is now applicable for a much wider variety of student coursework, as is demonstrated on their video clips .

Don’t get too excited, though – there is no hint that the TurnItIn file size limit of 20 MBytes per file will be increased, so image portfolios or video clips are still likely to be too big to be submitted to TurnItIn.

However one workaround is the ability to use the marking and feedback tools without any submission being present, using a ‘submission template’ (i.e. a blank document).  You might use this to comment on a multimedia submission handed in by some other means, or to assess a live performance e.g. in Drama or Sports Science.

TurnItIn is shifting its emphasis from Originality Checking towards a focus on online marking and feedback provision.  The original functionality is still there and works as it always has done: the ability to handle any file type is an additional feature.