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Here we set out principles for using assessment and feedback technologies, derived from the literature and a 2016 study of UCL students using both Moodle Assignment and Turnitin Assignment, and relate these principles to the different ways of giving feedback. 

Please note that although we focus here on Moodle and Turnitin, there is much more to do outside these particular technologies - not least the kind of 'community work' of sharing standards and coming to terms with unreliability described by Bloxam (2015).

Teaching teams and departments can organise a hands-on session with Digital Education to explore Moodle Assignment and Turnitin from the perspectives of students, markers and administrators. This exposure will help immeasurably with designing efficient, considerate processes and workflows.


Feedback principleEnacting the principle in Moodle AssignmentEnacting the principle in Turnitin Assignment
Assessment criteria principles
Develop a shared understanding of the criteria before students start the work.Present criteria within a Rubric - this displays the criteria along with descriptors for levels of achievement. Considering that students generally struggle with the terms used in the criteria, one important Moodle opportunity is the linked Glossary of terms.Present criteria within a Rubric - this displays the criteria along with descriptors for levels of achievement.
Communicate to students that they are intended to work with the criteria. Make the criteria conspicuous before the submission deadline i.e. at the point students start work.Moodle Assignment does display a Rubric conspicuously before the deadline, but its existence does need to be communicated to students.Turnitin Assignment doesn't make a Rubric conspicuous before the deadline, so its existence does need to be communicated to students. 
Support students to benchmark their own work to the criteria.Rubrics in Moodle Assignment let assessors click the level achieved for each criterion, and moreover allow a comment for each which can briefly explain the level achieved.Rubrics in Turnitin Assignment let assessors click the level achieved for each criterion, but any explanation needs to be given in the summary comment.
Address doubts about the educational value of criteria. Communicate to students what working with the criteria might look like. Demonstrate clearly that assessors do indeed refer to the criteria when marking.Rubrics with comments at each level, as explained above, support students to relate specific aspects of feedback to the criteria.As well as Rubrics, Turnitin Assignment allows each Comment or Quickmark to be associated with a single criterion. This supports students to relate specific aspects of feedback - and, importantly, their own work - to the criteria.
Feedback principles
The feedback comments most valued by students explain the issue, make links with the assessment criteria, and include advice about what students should do next.Comments in Moodle Assignment are not yet as advanced as those in Turnitin in terms of specificity, navigability or presentation. They also do not afford links with specific criterion. However, they can be positioned on the page, so used judiciously they are helpful here.Comments in Turnitin can be precisely positioned to help with specificity. They also allow links and can be colour coded. They can be viewed in different ways (as lists or on the page) and they can be searched. Again, Turnitin Assignment makes it easy to associate a Comment or Quickmark to a single criterion in a Rubric.

If your feedback is dispersed across different modes (e.g. bubble comments, rubric, summary comment, annotated uploaded file, model answer, cohort feedback), be explicit with students.

Be focused. Be explicit about what kinds of feedback students should expect, how to find it, and how to work with it. Remind students about Moodle's MyFeedback Report, which brings together all feedback that year.Note that Turnitin summary Comments do not display directly in Moodle's MyFeedback Report (although there is a link to them). Be explicit about what kinds of feedback students should expect, how to find it, and how to work with it.

Communicate explicitly to students that feedback exists, especially if it is dispersed across different modes (e.g. bubble comments, rubric, summary comment, annotated uploaded file, model answer, cohort feedback).

Provide explicit guidance on how to interpret and cross-reference these different feedback modes.

Make use of UCL Moodle's Test User accounts to experience a student perspective first hand. That way you can make informed decisions about how, when and where to direct students' attention, so that they know what to expect and what to do.

Demonstrate to students how to access the feedback. We provide guidance which you may like to link to.

Monitor students' engagement with feedback by referring to the MyFeedback report, which will tell you whether students have visited their assignment after you released feedback (an imprecise proxy, but some indication).

Make use of UCL Moodle's Test User accounts to experience a student perspective first hand. That way you can make informed decisions about how, when and where to direct students' attention, so that they know what to expect and what to do.

Demonstrate to students how to access the feedback. We provide guidance which you may like to link to.

Monitor students' engagement with feedback by returning to the Inbox where you can find out whether students have spent more than 30 seconds on the feedback page.

Students tend to want to be told how to improve their work, and consequently can be more interested in feedback on problems than on what they did well. To interest students in positive feedback, also highlight suggestions for further improvements.Use Comments (summary comments, inline comments, or Rubric comments).Use Comments (Quickmark comments, bubble comments, or summary comments).
Students need to be confident they can approach tutors about their mark and feedback without fear or prejudice in future assessments.Ensure that the feedback comments explain the numeric mark in ways students can understand.Ensure that the feedback comments explain the numeric mark in ways students can understand.
Workload demands

The more feedback is dispersed between different modes, the more demanding it is for students to relate it to each other, to the criteria, to their own thinking, and to their numeric mark.

There is evidence that many students do not make optimal use of their feedback. Where more than one mode is used, there is a need to distinguish between the purpose and content of each kind of feedback, signpost their relationships, and communicate this to students.

Typed feedback is far easier to understand than handwritten, as a general rule. Be focused and concise. Explain why you have chosen to use each kind of feedback, and what distinct benefit it provides in relation to any others you have used.Typed feedback is far easier to understand than handwritten, as a general rule. Be focused and concise. Explain why you have chosen to use each kind of feedback, and what distinct benefit it provides in relation to any others you have used.
If individual comments have a lot in common, these can be given as general feedback to the cohort. Assessors can then spend the time they save on repeating themselves, and give more student-specific comments insteadMoodle Assignment makes it straightforward for a shared feedback file to be uploaded for each student. Moreover the feedback will display in Moodle MyFeedback.Turnitin does not allow a feedback file to be uploaded in common, and it will not display in Moodle MyFeedback but you can upload a file to Moodle an direct students' attention to that.

Find out more

References

  • Bloxham, S., den-Outer, B., Hudson, J., Price, M., 2015. Let’s stop the pretence of consistent marking: exploring the multiple limitations of assessment criteria. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education 1–16. doi:10.1080/02602938.2015.1024607.
  • Douarin, E. and Vogel, M., 2016 How can we use online feedback to maximise engagement with the assessment criteria? UCL E-Learning Development Grant project report, 2016. http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/1521089/
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