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Marking and grading | Giving feedback


Marking and grading

The extent to which tutors’ may be involved in marking and grading differs depending on course coordinators, and their specific requirements. It is advised that you communicate with your coordinator at the start of the semester and seek clarity of issues such as the following:

  • Will you be expected to mark assignments and final examinations?
  • If yes, how will each assignment and exam be graded? Are there any marking rubrics, or detailed grading criteria for you to refer to in grading?
  • Is there any guideline for giving comments on student assignment?
  • If there are multiple markers for assignments and exams, what are the expectations in terms of moderation with other markers to make sure your judgments are consistent? What is the moderation process in such case?

It is worth noting that HKU has adopted a standards-based assessment. With this approach to assessment, programs and courses are required to have grade descriptors so that students understand what standard is required of them (criteria), and to what level (standard). Grade descriptors are statements indicating the kind of performance students need to demonstrate in order to achieve a particular grade. Students’ assignments or exams are judged, based on these descriptors.

In your teaching situation where course grade descriptors are applied, it is encouraged that you discuss with your course coordinator what you are expected in terms of communicating these standards to students, including explaining what they mean and showing what good quality work looks like.


Giving feedback

One of the most important roles a tutor/demonstrator can play in a student’s learning experience is in the provision of feedback. Unlike some of your professors who might be teaching in large classes, you are likely to be leading a group of about 15-20 students. This means that you are well positioned to know students individually and have a sense of how they are doing in relation to the learning outcomes of the course, and therefore to be able to help them make progress towards the learning outcomes by giving them constructive feedback.

In higher education, assessment not only functions as an evaluation of the extent to which students achieve the intended learning outcomes but should also be used as an effective tool to enhance student learning during the teaching and learning processes. To achieve the latter function of assessment, feedback to students is a key element.

There are a few guidelines that you can follow when giving feedback:

  • Provide feedback as timely as you can;
  • Do not overwhelm students with your comments but focus on the key areas of the marking standards/criterion;
  • Start with positive comments;
  • Make your comments, praise or criticism, as specific as possible. For instance, instead of saying ‘good introduction’, a more specific comment such as ‘The introduction of your presentation is strong as it engages the audience immediately’ would make more sense to students;
  • Make sure your criticism is constructive by giving corrective advice or direction for improvement;

Individual feedback is probably most favorable to almost every student. However, given some practical issues such as class size and time constraint, giving individual feedback is not always feasible. In such cases, you may provide collective feedback verbally, focusing on students’ commonly made mistakes in an assignment or assessment task.

Another way of maximizing the benefits of feedback in terms of quantity and quality is, you can get students to give each other feedback in groups. As you join each group in their feedback sharing, you can add your own comments or suggestion.

Alternatively, if time does not allow for in-class feedback, technology supported feedback always comes in handy, through, e.g. course Moodle site, online forum, etc. Or, you can arrange a schedule for individual meeting with students after class during office hours.