A key issue for students is clarity about deadline for return of marks and feedback. A number of institutions have told us students don’t really mind whether the deadline is 20 days or 30 days so long as there is clarity (bearing in mind that, in the case of feedback, it will only be useful if it is received in time to impact on subsequent assignments).
Having identified that marks and feedback are very different things, it appears that there is limited system support for releasing the two separately. Moodle apparently offers this facility but Turnitin does not. One example of a workaround cited is that academic staff do not put marks in Grademark – they post the feedback there then email the marks the following day. Sheffield Hallam University has gone further and trialled ‘adaptive release’ whereby students are required not only to open but also to engage with their feedback prior to receiving their final mark. Resources from their project are highlighted on the Jisc EMA blog.
The complications of managing workarounds to deal with the fact that systems do not adequately support the common UK marking processes have lead to situations involving the accidental early release of marks to students.
We heard examples from institutions where there were staff concerns about students not collecting or accessing feedback and investigations showed that this was, in part, due to lack of clarity about the fact that the feedback was available and ready for collection/viewing. In the case of returned scripts being left in ‘pigeonholes’ there are also concerns about privacy of this information. The point was made that there is no consistency about how this is handled in different tools e.g. Moodle alerts students to the fact that feedback is there but Turnitin doesn’t (even if it is integrated within Moodle). Other examples cited indicated that moves to online feedback greatly increased the amount of students who actually looked at their feedback (97% was cited in one instance).
The point was made that the value and importance of verbal feedback should not be lost in a model that seeks to maximise EMA. An example was however given where academic practice was only to give verbal feedback to students (and only upon request) and a move to returning written feedback that students could take away and reflect upon was seen as an important step forward.
MMU guidance on Returning marks and feedback.