Alternative forms of online feedback

The University’s Assessment for Learning Policy requires that all assignment feedback should, unless agreed by exception, be returned online.

UniLearn has a number of options for doing this. Some of these will only be available to certain submission types, but other options are available for all assignments – whether they are summative or formative activities. The crucial requirement is that your students always know, in advance, how they can access the feedback being given. This may vary between assignments as some feedback styles are more appropriate than others, just as some submission types are more appropriate than others (a full written feedback form may not be appropriate for an automatically marked quiz, while a video response may be ideal for a video submission).

This page is intended to provide some options and links to guides on using the suggested alternatives.

Practical examples:

You can also find some examples of these suggestions in the Good Practice Exchange: Online Assessment Practices


Written feedback online

By far the most common form of feedback is written.

This can take the form of a pre-defined feedback form, which is completed while grading and then uploaded as a feedback file along with the grade (in Blackboard Assignments only) or a text that is typed online for the student to read (Turnitin and Blackboard Assignments).

While a feedback file cannot be uploaded in Turnitin, both Turnitin and Blackboard Assignments allow written feedback to be added online. Online feedback such as this could follow the same headings as used in a feedback file form, allowing the same structure for the feedback. Both Blackboard Assignments and Turnitin allow this feedback to be edited, so that it does not necessarily need to be completed in one session. A draft, or note form of the feedback can be created (e.g. during a face-face feedback discussion) which can subsequently be filled out with additional detail.

Some subject specific requirements, such as Maths or Science, may require annotation on hard copy and scanning to a file for uploading. Any exceptions to online feedback should be discussed and approved by the Academic Manager in consultation with the Course Leader.

Document annotation

Both Turnitin and Blackboard Assignments allow you to annotate the submitted student work online. In Blackboard Assignments this is through the Comments tool when grading, while in Turnitin, it is accomplished through the QuickMarks option and inline text comment tools. These tools allow you to make quick comments at the point in the submission where you want to highlight the student’s work.

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Speech to Text options for written feedback

GoogleDocs now also has an option to allow you to dictate your text into a GoogleDoc (on Chrome Browser). This text can then be copied and pasted into any of the above written feedback methods as required.

Health and Safety:

Display Screen Equipment (DSE) users need to ensure that they have completed their on-line DSE training and risk assessment of their individual work station. This should be reviewed by a DSE reviewer from their faculty. Where necessary control measures should be implemented. Where users may be experiencing symptoms such as pain in hands, arms or neck these should be brought to the attention of the users manager and a reassessment of the workstation should be arranged. If the Faculty DSE reviewer cannot resolve the issues with the workstation they should refer the issue to Occupational Health and Safety. If the manager feels it is necessary due to the nature of the health issues being disclosed they should contact HR and ask for a referral to Occupational Health.

The USW Display Screen Equipment procedure also provides additional information for staff, including a DSE leaflet that can be downloaded from the site (staff login required).

Information is also on the HSE Website

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Working offline

Blackboard Assignments can also be downloaded to work offline, where you could use either Word’s track changes features to annotate the script, or a mobile device based pdf annotation tool. The file can then be saved (possibly including an overall feedback comment as part of the front sheet) and re-uploaded to Blackboard Assignment as a feedback file. Blackboard Assignments also allow you to download the Grade Centre column for that assignment in order to add grades and quick feedback comments, which can later be re-uploaded back to the module online Grade Centre.

Turnitin provides offline features through synchronisation with an iPad app, which allows QuickMarks to be set and work to be graded or overall comments to be added and which will then resynchronise when the device is next online. Currently there is no PC/laptop or Android offline function within Turnitin.

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Rubrics and marking grids

A rubric is essentially a marking grid that provides feedback comments for set levels of work against pre-defined marking criteria. This also helps inform the students of what those marking criteria are for the activity and helps direct the feedback given to address those criteria specifically.

While a rubric can take time to set up well (usually in the construction of a pedagogically sound marking guide, rather than any significant difficulties in creating it online), it can then save large amounts of time during the marking and feedback process. A good rubric should usually be accompanied by additional overall comments to ensure the grading process is personalised to the student, but the use of a rubric will ensure that such overall comments can be drastically reduced in comparison to a freely written overall comment.

Both Blackboard Assignments and Turnitin support rubrics.

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Recorded feedback

Turnitin – Audio recording is available in the general comment section.

Blackboard – audio or video recordings can be made in a separate tool (e.g. QuickTime, Audacity) and either linked in feedback text or uploaded as feedback file.

Audio feedback

Turnitin and Blackboard assignments can both accept audio feedback, but in different ways. Turnitin has a specific audio recording facility in the General Comments section when grading the submission, while Blackboard assignments will accept a file upload, which could take the form of an audio recording, using a free tool such as Audacity, for example.

Video feedback

Turnitin has no facility for providing video feedback. However, the same feedback file upload as above can also be used to provide a video file. An alternative, although not recommended, technique in both systems is to record the video somewhere online and provide the url link to the video in the online comments section. Extreme care should be taken with this approach though, to ensure that feedback comments are only viewable to the intended recipient – i.e. ensure Panopto or YouTube permissions are correctly set to make the video private.

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Automated feedback – tests and quizzes

Blackboard Tests allow feedback to be added for every question – either for correct or incorrect answers. This feedback is added when you initially create each question. You can also set options for when to display this feedback when deploying the quiz – for example, during the test, immediately after, or at a preset time (e.g. the night before the next lecture). The grading of most question types is then automatic, along with the display of the feedback if required.

QMP does not provide feedback within the quiz environment, but does allow you to send students a feedback 'Coaching Report’ including their results.

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