Plan for marking and grading

There are many considerations for consistent marking and grading before students even submit their assessment.

The process begins well before commencement of the teaching period, and includes a wide range of stakeholders, including unit staff, teaching associates, markers, and students themselves.

Planning for consistency

An overview of the main considerations when planning for marking and grading is below. As this process is complex, we will not explain all the steps here. If you want to learn more, we recommend you consider completing the MEA ‘Improve consistency in marking and feedback’ module, which covers many of these steps in more detail.

Main considerations

  • Task design: Consistency begins with the task itself; it needs to be aligned with learning outcomes and other requirements (such as industry and accreditation needs).
  • Task description: Once the skills, knowledge, behaviours, and attributes related to the task have been prioritised, the task description needs to be developed to give clear, unambiguous direction as to what is required. This may require the task description to be reviewed and revised several times, and by various people.
  • Feedback documents: Feedback documents (incorporating rubrics or marking guides, penalties applied and comment spaces) need to be developed, and must also be unambiguous, clear and reviewed for alignment with the task and underlying learning outcomes.
  • Release of the task: Detailed task resources should be released to all relevant stakeholders with sufficient time for them to prepare for their roles appropriately.
  • Conversations and discussions: It is insufficient to just hand assessment documentation to students (or markers) and expect them to know exactly what it means, especially in the early years of study. Time must be allocated to allow explanation and discussion of the expectations for the task. Ideally, a single person should be appointed as the task ‘spokesperson’ and all others in the team should direct queries to them, via the agreed routes.
  • Communication channels: There should be clearly defined channels of communication relating to the task, such as a dedicated forum, scheduled Zoom or Chat Q&A sessions, or regular time in whole-class lectures, to allow all students access to authoritative responses and information.
  • Marker expectations: Processes should be in place to ensure all markers, especially any markers who are not teaching in the unit, have consistent expectations about task submissions as well as the quantity, quality and tone of feedback to be provided, and the workflows to be followed. Potential inter- and intra-marker sources of bias should also be discussed.
  • Collecting feedback about the task: Ongoing collection of information should be facilitated, relating to areas of ambiguity, confusion or where aspects of the task (such as timing, mode, or location) are found to advantage or disadvantage particular students. A Google Doc or Moodle forum available only to members of the teaching and marking team is an easy way to do this. This should be established before the task is released, and maintained until the marking process is complete.
  • Before release of marks: Processes must be in place to ensure marking has been consistent before marks and grades are released to students (e.g. double marking, cross-checking, grade distribution analyses for different markers).