Marking Assessment

This section provides practical advice to assist you in the marking of assessment.

New! Research at Sheffield Hallam University has identified that many students don’t understand the approaches we use to mark and moderate their work and sometimes perceive that there are biases depending on who’s marking their work.

Take a look at an example of how the Midwifery Team have explained to students the process of ‘how their work is marked and moderated’. This was produced by Sally Freeman RGN RM MA PGCE FHEA, Senior Midwifery Lecturer, Course Leader for BSc Midwifery, HWB.

Allocating work for marking
Allocation of marking relates to the academic’s teaching related duties, which forms part of an academic’s annual work planning hours.

Allocation of marking is decided locally within faculty departments, between the academic and relevant module leader and logged with the appropriate subject group leader.

Please refer to Academic Work Planning Policy

Marking assessment
There is an interactive PowerPoint presentation in the Resources section (Electronic Feedback Guide) which takes you through the various methods and tools you can use to facilitate online marking.

We have also included several case studies in the resources section which cover the two approaches to marking using electronic tools, both online and offline tools.

It is however recognised that electronic methods of marking may not always suit all. As such, a print to mark service is offered to all staff that allows the printing of student submissons to allow academic markers to still mark on physical scripts. More detail on the print to mark service can be found in the next section. The expectation though is that there is an electronic record of feedback still uploaded for Blackboard for the student. Scanned hand written feedback on scripts is not normally considered an appropriate method because of the issue of legibility.


Marking methods 


Online marking is the process of using onscreen tools to comment directly on student work. Students are normally required to submit an electronic version online and the annotated work can then be returned as feedback directly to the student through the Grade Centre in the Blackboard VLE. Depending on how the student work has been submitted and in what format can determine how the work can be annotated.

Inline Grading in Blackboard – Box View feedback icon

The Inline Grading tool, Box View, allows you to view, provide feedback on, and grade student-submitted assignment files while working within Blackboard. When students submit their files online to an assignment, that file is converted into a format that is viewable inside Blackboard. All formatting and embedded images, charts, tables and so on are preserved in the conversion. The student’s work can be annotated directly online without needing to download the student work and re-upload it. It is important to note that when using Box View you will need to be connected to the internet at all times.

Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, and PDF documents are supported, and Files that have been converted for display in the inline viewer can be annotated (just as you would in, say, a Word document) by:

  • adding a comment to a specific point or selected area in the document (i.e. marginal notes)
  • drawing in the document using a pencil tool
  • highlighting selected text in the document
  • adding text to the document
  • striking-out text in the document

There is also space to add further feedback (both typed into the text editor or as an attached file), view and comment using the feedback rubric (if one has been associated with the assignment), store private grading notes, and type in the grade. When marking is complete, students will see their annotated document (along with their grade and any other feedback given via the inline grading sidebar). Students can download a pdf version of the annotated document as well as still having access to their file that they originally submitted without the annotations.

Annotated Grading – offline

Where submitted work cannot be converted into a format that is viewable inside Blackboard (or where you are unable to use Box View to annotate files that are converted, e.g. you will be marking in a location without an internet connection) you can download the student submissions for viewing and annotating offline. Student files can either be downloaded one at a time or bulk downloaded (as a package file) from the Grade Centre in Blackboard, marked and annotated using the functions available in the software application that the students created the file (e.g. Commenting, Track Changes or AutoText tools in Microsoft Word), and then saved and reloaded to Blackboard again for students to access as feedback in the Grade Centre. There are two important considerations: (1) you must have access to the software application that students used to create their work; (2) you must have a logical naming convention to identify students when saving annotated work so that they can be easily identified and attached to the correct student when uploading the feedback files to the Grade Centre in Blackboard.

There are also alternative online feedback methods when marking student work offline – see interactive PowerPoint in the Resources section.

All online assignments should be submitted to Blackboard but if you are wanting to download submissions to your own drive, using the local D and C drives is strongly NOT recommended.

‘Personal’ (D:) drive is personal in relation to the PC, not the physical user. D and C drives should not be used for saving your work. D drive is local (personal) to the PC, so anyone that logs onto that PC can see that information and, in the hopefully unlikely event someone stole that PC, they would be able to access the data and there would be no back up copy.

Also if the local drives on said PC were to corrupt there are no backups of the data, so you would lose it all and there would be nothing we could do to recover it.

Please see links below for more details as to why IT don’t recommend saving on these drives:

Local drives

Network drives

If your F drive (all staff get 500mb) isn’t big enough for your needs IT Support will consider requests for more space or requests for private areas on the N drive (that only you can have access to, unless you inform IT that other staff members need access).

F (Homespace) and N (N:\\AllStaff\Teaching Materials\then relevant SHU username) drives are backed up every night on SHU servers so if anything was lost or accidentally deleted IT can pull the data back from the server.

If you would like to talk to somebody about setting up a folder on the N drive that is only accessible for you.  You can contact IT Support who will liaise with you about setting a folder up.

Access to Q drive can also be arranged. This drive is for academic staff to share files with students where Blackboard is not the appropriate medium.

More details on Storage.

Threshold Standards relating to assessment and feedback Threshold Standards

Print to mark
This ‘print to mark’ service is available for academic staff who want a printed copy of the electronically submitted student work for marking purposes. To use the service, a zip file of the submissions must be downloaded from Blackboard and sent to the Print Shop for printing via the Print Shop webpage.

Please read the Print Shop guidance on how to use this service for full instructions.

Originality checking/Turnitin


Turnitin is an online tool that can maximise the potential for all students to improve their academic writing and referencing skillsIt also enables academics to objectively assess and identify possible plagiarism and collusion by providing feedback around the originality of student work, through the generation of ‘originality reports’.

Benefits of Originality Checking:

  • An equitable way of providing feedback on academic writing
  • An opportunity to undertake remedial action before their final summative submission with no action taken as a result
  • Originality reports can help students in locating additional sources
  • Deters students who may be considering cheating/plagiarising
  • Increases awareness and the level of debate around Academic Integrity, and demonstrates the importance and seriousness of this issue

See Originality Checking in Theme 4 (Submitting/Sitting) for full details of:

  • Turnitin as an online tool
  • Formats for digital based submissions
  • Originality Reports
  • Formative and summative uses of Turnitin
  • Good practice and recommended process for Originality Checking

Anonymous marking
Currently, the University operates anonymous marking for examinations only. Anonymity applies to the marking process only.

At this stage, the policy has not extended to coursework but a tool is available within Blackboard to assist academics with anonymous marking (within certain constraints). Currently anonymous marking is an option for module leaders but clarity around the approach taken to marking must be published to students at the start of a module.

Grade based assessment
Traditionally, at university, when individual pieces of work have been marked, the grade has been expressed as a mark from 0-100%. However, recently some universities have moved to a different approach in which the grade given for individual assessments is based on the degree classifications given above. This is called Grade Based Assessment.

A video introducing GBA at SHU is available below:

new video to be uploaded shortly

In Art and Design they have been using grade based assessment for first and second year work. In grade based assessment, the students receive one of eighteen grades, based on final degree classifications, as shown in the table below.

One of the benefits of this approach for students is that they can easily gain an understanding of how well they are doing. For example, if a student is aiming for a first class degree, they can readily see how close they are, based on the grades that they have already received. 

Degree class Grade Numerical equivalent Indicative mark range
First Perfect 1st 100 100
Exceptional 1st 96 99 – 93
High 1st 89 92 – 85
Mid 1st 81 84 – 78
Low 1st 74 77 – 70
Upper second High 2.1 68 69 – 67
Mid 2.1 65 66 – 64
Low 2.1 62 63 – 60
Lower second High 2.2 58 59 – 57
Mid 2.2 55 56 – 54
Low 2.2 52 53 – 50
Third High 3rd 48 49 – 47
Mid 3rd 45 46 – 44
Low 3rd 42 43 – 40
Fail Marginal fail 38 39 – 35
Mid fail 32 34 – 30
Low fail 18 29 – 1
Zero Zero 0 0

Legibility of assessment
Students are responsible for ensuring that all assessment is presented in a legible form.


Students are normally expected to submit coursework in a typewritten, word-processed or a legible handwritten format. If a student submits a piece of coursework which is illegible, they are required to transcribe the work prior to it being marked. This must be completed under supervision. The student must be formally warned in writing that it is their responsibility to submit work in a legible form and any subsequent pieces of illegible work will receive a zero mark.

Examination scripts

Likewise students are expected to write examination scripts in a legible form. If an examination script is illegible or difficult to read and the student has not already been formally warned about legibility, the student is required to transcribe the script prior to marking. This must be conducted under supervision. The student must be formally warned in writing that it is their responsibility to submit work in a legible form and any subsequent pieces of illegible work will receive a zero mark.

Loss of student assessment

Staff are responsible for taking proper care of students’ assessment material. It is recognised that there may be exceptional circumstances in which assessment material is lost or damaged whilst it is in the possession of the University which prevents or impedes the usual assessment process. Information on how to manage these circumstances is available at Loss of Students’ Assessment Material

What if a student can't meet their deadline?
The University provides students with an Assessment Statement for each year of their course at the start of the academic year. This states what assessment tasks need to be completed and what the submission deadlines are. It is intended that this helps students to manage their time and plan carefully to meet all assessment submission deadlines.

Coursework submitted within one working day (24 hours) of the deadline date and time without an authorised extension will receive a mark capped at the minimum pass mark. Coursework submitted beyond that time without an authorised extension will receive a zero mark. The assessment task will be referred (if at first submission) or failed (if at referral submission).

Ask the student to speak to their Student Support Officer if they have any concerns about completing their coursework on time.

If you suspect in advance that personal circumstances may cause them to miss a deadline ask the student to speak to their Student Support Officer about requesting an extension to the coursework submission deadline.  An extension request form must be submitted at least 24 hours before the deadline date together with a copy of any uncompleted work and documentary evidence to support the request.

If they have a general problem with prioritising, or working under pressure, Study Support can help them to develop practical ways of managing their time and workload.

Missed examination

If a student misses an exam, get them to contact their Student Support Officer as soon as possible. Please note that if they arrive late, they are permitted to enter an examination during the first 30 minutes, including any reading time allocated to the examination.

Extenuating Circumstances Policy

System issues

If system unavailability prevents the marking of work, for example due to being unable to access electronically submitted work, an extended period of time equivalent to the duration of system unavailability (up to 48 hours) is to be allowed to complete the marking and provide feedback to students.  A standard message will be placed on Blackboard and your faculty will be in touch with further details.

If there is to be a delay in providing feedback to students due to system unavailability, either at the time of marking or the time of releasing feedback, the anticipated feedback date is to be communicated to students via the Assessment Scheduler, although if staff can still meet the original turnaround times this is to be encouraged.