Changes to assessment due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

All remaining assessments for this academic year, including exams, have been moved to Blackboard.

Students will use submission points, in appropriate folders (Summative Assessment, Formative Assessment or Reassessment) in their Blackboard sites, to submit their work. All student work will be marked online.

The process for marking coursework is detailed on this page.

The process for marking exams is slightly different, and so is detailed on a separate exam marking page as a result.

Additional support for markers

Additional support has been put into place to support colleagues marking online. Markers can:

1. Use the detailed guidance on these web pages. The process for marking coursework is explained below on this page, the process for marking exams is explained on the exam marking page. Useful frequently asked questions can be found at the foot of each page.

2. Get in touch with the Hub or Exams Office. The Hubs are the people to speak to about incorrect submission points, and to request marking be shared out within marking teams. The Exams Office are the people to speak to about all things exams, including attaching exam papers to submission points.

3. Call on the expertise of our online marking champions. The following academic colleagues, who are all experienced online markers, have volunteered to run training sessions and support colleagues in need of help.Show marking champions

AMA - Michael Lengsfield -
HIS - Chris Jones -
LDC - tbc
PPL - tbc
IIH - Stephen Bennett -

MED - tbc
HSC - Rebekah Hill -

BIO - Kay Yeoman -, Helen James -
CHE - Simon Lancaster -
CMP - tbc
ENV - Katy Appleton -
MTH - tbc
PHA - Rosemary Norton -, Michael Twigg -, Andrew Round -

ECO - Duncan Watson -, Fabio Arico -
EDU - Rebecca Westrup -
DEV - Rob Grant -
LAW - tbc
NBS - Leslie Caroline Fitzhugh -,  Dimitrios Dousios -
PSY - Judi Walsh -
SWK - tbc


4. Join an online training session.

5. Get in touch with the Learning Technologists. Simply email and we'll be happy to help. We are experiencing a very significant increase in the number of support requests however, so please check our help pages first in case the answer to your question can be found there.


The process for marking coursework

The three steps involved in marking coursework are as follows. Details on each step can be found further down the page.

1. Accessing student work

2. Adding grades and feedback

- Annotating student work

- Adding overall feedback

- Adding a grade

3. Releasing grades to students and the hub

- Releasing grades to students

- Releasing grades to the hub


Frequently asked questions


Step 1: Accessing student work

There are two recommended ways of accessing student work. If a sole marker is marking all the submissions then the Full Grade Centre should be used. If several markers are sharing the marking between them then Smart Views should be used. Both methods are explained below.

Accessing student work as a sole marker

To access student work when you're the only marker:

1. Go to the relevant Blackboard course, select Full Grade Centre from the menu, then find the relevant column for the assessment. Show Screenshot

2. Select the drop-down menu next to the column title, then select Grade with Usernames Hidden, to mark all submissions anonymously. Show Screenshot

3. Mark the submission as described in the following sections. You will automatically be taken to the next paper after the current paper has been marked.

Accessing student work when there are multiple markers

The recommended method for sharing work out amongst markers has changed as a result of Coronavirus - more information about this can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions at the foot of this page. The new approach uses something called Smart Views which can be set-up by your Hub on request.

To access student work when there are several markers:

1. Go to the relevant Blackboard course, then select your Smart View. Smart Views can be found directly under the Full Grade Centre heading. The name of the Smart View will indicate the marker. Show Screenshot

2. Follow this step carefully to ensure you only mark the work allocated to you.
We know it sounds weird but, because of a bug in Blackboard, it's essential to do follow this step exactly. Failure to do so may result in you marking work that is not allocated to you.

2a. Find the relevant column for the exam, click the drop-down menu next to the column title, then select Grade with Usernames Hidden to mark all submissions anonymously. Show Screenshot

2b. Immediately click the Exit button near the top-right of the screen. You will be returned to your Smart View. Show Screenshot

2c. Click the drop-down menu next to the column title, then select Grade with Usernames Hidden again. Show Screenshot

3. Mark the work as described in the following sections. You will automatically be taken to the next paper after the current paper has been marked.


Step 2: Adding grades and feedback

It's important to check the work you're looking at is the student's most recent submission before adding a grade and feedback. This is necessary as students are allowed to submit multiple times until the deadline for formative assessments and exams.

If the work is not the student's most recent submission there will be both a grey indicator above the work, and more than one attempt indicated to the right of the work on a drop down menu.

Simply click the arrow pointing to the right, to move on to the next piece of work, if the submission on screen isn't the most recent version. Show Screenshot

Annotating student work

In addition to leaving overall feedback on student work, markers can also annotate the script itself if the file is a PDF, Word, or PowerPoint document.

The three annotation tools available are a highlighter, a sticky-note, and a freehand drawing tool. We describe how to use the first two tools below as these are the most useful.

Point annotation tool

The point annotation tool, or sticky-note as it's often refered to, allows markers to add typed comments to specific locations in a piece of work. To use it:

1. Select the sticky-note tool. Show Screenshot

2. Click anywhere in the student work, add the comment in the text box, and then click Post. Show Screenshot

3. Press the ESC key on your keyboard to minimise the last note added, and then repeat step 2 above to add new sticky-notes.

4. Sticky-notes can be deleted by clicking on the note, selecting the bin icon near the top-right of the note, and then clicking Delete. Sticky notes cannot be edited. Show Screenshot

5. Click the Close button when you've finished adding sticky-notes. Show Screenshot

Highlight tool

The highlight tool allows markers to highlight parts of the text. To use it:

1. Click, and then drag, anywhere on the script to highlight text.

2. A speech bubble will appear. Click the highlighter icon to highlight the text.

Please note: there is also a sticky-note icon on the speech bubble that appears. This allows markers to leave a comment with the highlighted text. We recommend not using this comment feature as it often doesn't work, and is also problematic for students when looking at their feedback.


Adding overall feedback

To add overall feedback on student work:

1. Make the Feedback to Learner box visible as it's hidden by default. To show the box either click the arrow immediately below the Attempt box, or click in the Attempt box itself. Show Screenshot

2. Add feedback to the Feedback to Learner box.

Markers can type feedback directly into the Feedback to Learner box or, if you want more control over the formatting of your comment, open the full Blackboard content editor by clicking on the A icon. Show Screenshot

Markers can also attach a file containing feedback if preferable. Click the paperclip icon, and browse your computer for the relevant file, to attach it. Please be aware that students will need to have the appropriate software to be able to open and read attached files, so we recommend the use of standard file types. Show Screenshot


Adding a grade

1. Type a grade into the Attempt box near the top-right of the screen to add a mark. It's important not to type the grade anywhere else. Show Screenshot

2. When you've added a grade, and any feedback, click the Submit button to save them and move onto the next piece of work to be marked.


Step 3: Releasing grades to students and the Hub

Releasing grades to students

To release grades to the students:

1. Navigate to the Full Grade Centre, and check the grades are currently not visible to students. An icon at the top of the column, showing a grey circle with a red line through it, indicates the assessment is not visible. Show Screenshot

2. Select the drop-down menu next to the column title, then click Hide from students (on/off). The icon at the top of the column will disappear, and the provisional marks will be returned to the students. Show Screenshot


Releasing grades to the Hub

The following steps explain how to return summative marks to the Hub, formative marks are not returned to the Hub. Assessment marks should only be returned once marking and moderation is complete.

Unfortunately this process will not work when using the Safari web browser. We recommend using the Chrome browser instead.

1. Navigate to the Full Grade Centre, then select Manage, and then Mark Approval and Transfer. Show Screenshot

2. Confirm the module for which you want to transfer marks. Select the box next to the name of the module, and then click Mark Column Approval and Transfer. Show Screenshot

3. Confirm the particular assessment(s) that need to be returned to the hub. Select the box next to the assessment to be transferred, and then click Approve Marks. Show Screenshot

4. Repeat the process above each time a late piece of work is marked.



Frequently Asked Questions

Before Marking

How do I distribute marking to my marking team? Show Answer

The recommended method of distributing marking to several markers has changed due to Coronavirus. The new approach takes into account the need for marking teams to change due to illness, the number of assessments, the size of the support teams, and the technical constraints of the system.

The new approach uses something called Smart Views which are subsets of the Full Grade Centre. You can create these yourself, or your Hub can create these for you on request. When the Hub create Smart Views for you, the name will contain both the assessment number and the initials of the marker.

See guidance on how to distribute marking (set up Smart Views)

During Marking

How do I make the student's work easier to read on screen? Show Answer

To make a piece of work easier to read on screen, we recommend hiding the menus to the left and right of the work.

How do I mark work offline? Show Answer

There may be some cases where you need to download the original submitted file and annotate it offline. For example:

- You require students to submit a file type that does not display in the marking preview pane.

- You anticipate that annotation will take more than an hour, you are concerned about the stability of your internet connection or you have an offline annotation tool that you would prefer to use.

Note: Supported formats for display in the Blackboard marking preview pane are: Word, PDF, PowerPoint and Excel.

If you intend to use the marking preview pane exclusively, it is a good idea to tell students to only submit in supported formats. This restriction cannot be added centrally as other assessments require different file types to be submitted.

Marking offline using the process below is only possible where you can complete the offline marking and annotation while keeping the Blackboard screen open so that you do not lose the anonymised student record you are working on.

Unfortunately it is not possible to download anonymised batches of scripts so off-line annotation is completed one assignment at a time. During this workflow a copy of the submitted file is saved locally so it is important that this file is deleted or overwritten after the annotations have been uploaded.

Step 1 - Download and save the student's file

From Blackboard, click the download button and save the student's work to your local store using the file name “Feedback”. Show Screenshot

Step 2 - Open the file ready for you to annotate

Open “Feedback” using the native application – i.e. if the student has submitted an Excel file (.xls), then open in Excel or if a Word file (.doc) has been submitted, open it in Word.

Step 3 - Annotate the work

Some markers use a different colour to annotate the work in context, while others prefer to add a number key and list comments separately. If the native application allows it, you may choose to use comments or text boxes.

Step 4 - Save the annotated file

When you have finished annotating the work, save it as “Feedback” replacing the student's version on your local drive. Show Screenshot

Step 5 - Upload for the student to access

Return to Blackboard and open the Blackboard feedback box for the assignment. Click on the paperclip and navigate to the file you named “Feedback” this will now be the annotated version of the file. Show Screenshot

Alternatively open the full text editor and attach using the paperclip tool found there. Show Screenshot

Step 6 - Complete marking

Continue with your standard marking processes, using overall feedback, rubrics and giving grades as usual.

Step 7 - Start on the next student

When you download the next piece of work use the same file name “Feedback”. This will ensure that the file is overwritten each time and reduces the risk of breaching students' privacy. When you have finished your marking session and uploaded the last annotated version, make sure you delete any residual locally held “Feedback” files. All versions of your feedback will be held on Blackboard in the context of the student's submission.

Step 8 - Check your annotations

Markers can look at annotated versions by visiting the attempt history.

To make amendments re-upload using process “Upload for the student to access” with the paperclip from the marking screen.

How do I add comments intended for moderators or other markers? Show Answer

Markers can leave private notes for colleagues on each script. After adding a grade, and overall feedback for the student, simply click the Add Notes button under the Feedback to Learner box.

Notes can then be left in the text box which appears. These will be saved when you click the Submit button.

How do I change the mark on a script? Show Answer

In some circumstances grades may need to be reviewed and changed. Follow the steps below to do this. It's important to follow these steps and not change the grade anywhere else.

1. Navigate to the relevant Blackboard course, and click on Grade Centre and then Full Grade Centre on the course menu.

2. Hover your cursor over the cell for a particular piece of work, click the down arrow in that cell, then choose the most recent attempt from the menu that appears.

3. Change the grade in the Attempt box near the top-right of the screen, then click the Submit button to save the new grade.


How do I view a feedback file after I’ve attached it? Show Answer

Follow the steps below to view a feedback file after you've attached it. Unfortunately an issue with Blackboard means that, once a marker has attached a file in the Feedback to Learner box, the link to that file will work for students but not for staff. Markers and moderators can still access the file later on, but they have to do so from a different screen. To access the file:

1. Navigate to a piece of work in either the Full Grade Centre or Smart View, hover your mouse cursor over the relevant cell, click the down arrow which appears in the cell, then choose View Grade Details from the menu.

2. Click the link to the file on the Attempts tab.

How do I track late work? Show Answer

Sometimes, and for various reasons, student work is submitted passed the due date.

Using its notification system, Blackboard can alert you by email when a piece work is submitted. Note this is not anonymous.

To use this notification setting to track late work (rather than receive lots of emails ahead of the due date), only turn it on just after the due date.

Open the Global Navigation Menu (1) by clicking your name at the top right hand of the Blackboard screen.

Click Settings (2) then Edit Notification Settings (3). Show Screenshot

Bb Menu Item

Find the relevant module in the list titled Edit Individual Module Settings and click onto it.

For the setting Assignment Needs Grading, tick the box in the Email column.

Then click Submit. Show Screenshot

Bb Notification Screen

Once this notification method is switched on, you will be emailed each time a piece of work gets submitted. Hence the reason for only switching it on after the due date.

Please use this method with caution on very large modules or where there are multiple, perhaps formative tasks where students are required to submit work - you will receive an email each time.

We still recommend proactively checking the module for any late work in addition to being able to track late work in this way.

Why isn't the student's work visible on screen? Show Answer

There can be a number of reasons why a piece of work can't be viewed on screen. Download the file, using the button to the right of the preview window, to help diagnose the problem.

If the downloaded file has a filesize of 0kb, then this indicates the file became corrupt during submission. This could be because of a known browser issue. Please contact the Hub for guidance about what to do.

If the downloaded file can be opened and accessed on your computer, then this indicates the work was submitted in a format that cannot be viewed on screen. You should ask the Hub for guidance, but it is possible to just leave overall feedback for this work, or annotate the document on your computer and re-attach it, in the Feedback to Learner box.

Why can't I annotate the student's work? Show Answer

If you can see the student's work on screen, but can't see the tools to annotate it, then the student has uploaded an unsupported file type. The file types which can be annotated on screen are: PDF, Word, and PowerPoint. We suggest either leaving overall feedback for the work, or downloading and annotating the document on your computer and re-attaching it, in the Feedback to Learner box.

After Marking

How do I find the mark average and distribution for an assessment? Show Answer

Statistics for the whole class can be accessed from the Full Grade Centre.  Statistics for each marker can be accessed from each marker's Smart View. 

Once in the Full Grade Centre or from a marker's Smart View, simply find the column for an assessment, click the drop-down menu at the top of the column, and select Column Statistics. The statistics page will appear.