Electronic marking is not used here in the sense of 'automated marking' or 'marking software'. Instead, it refers to tutors and lecturers marking students' work on line. This page describes ways in which assignment submitted in, for example, Microsoft (MS) Word, can be efficiently marked electronically.

Correcting spelling and grammar

Instead of making extensive corrections to spelling and grammar throughout, for example, a student's essay, provide corrections and/or suggestions for only one or two paragraphs. Let the students know you have adopted this strategy and you'll be looking for improvements based on your feedback in the next piece of work.

Types of assessment

Be careful about changing the nature of the assessment task to cater for electronic marking. The use of different types of assessment that more readily suit the electronic marking environment is justifiable as long as they simultaneously support student learning needs.

Use of Abstracts and Tables of Contents

You might like to consider requiring students to incorporate, where appropriate, an assessable Table of Contents and/or an Abstract into their text-based submissions. The Table of Contents requires students to use headings in their assignment. The headings are simply collated to form the Table of Contents. The Abstract requires students to present a snapshot of their argument. This is a useful skill to develop for the contemporary workplace and overall, it's just good pedagogy that will benefit both the students and the lecturers who mark their work. The Table of Contents and/or Abstract are awarded approximately 5-10% of the total marks according to how well they express what is covered as the assignment unfolds. The Table of Contents and/or Abstract have to be a concise and sophisticated account of the student's overall argument and highlight the main points that will be covered. Whilst the marker will have to strategically work through the paper, the Table of Contents and/or Abstract act as its anchor and reference point.

General strategies for MS Word

Student assignments are increasingly sent to markers as MS Word documents. Marking files in electronic format presents both challenges and opportunities for the marker. Here are some strategies for using MS Word for marking

  • To add comments to a piece of student work, its better to insert comments or to add text (say in another colour) rather than using the 'track changes' feature as the latter can make it difficult for students to know which is your comment and which is their work.
  • To save time in using the same terms over and over, you can use the auto text feature.
  • You can use keyboard shortcuts to do commonly used sequences of keystrokes in one action.
  • Some people prefer to print files in bulk.
  • Key commands for moving around a document are:
Where do you want to go? Key commands
To the beginning of the line Home
To the end of the line End
To the beginning of the document Ctrl+Home
To the end of the document Ctrl+End
  • To view two consecutive pages at a time in the same document, go to VIEW in the Word menu at the top of the page. Select READING LAYOUT. Click on the 'open book' icon to view two pages side by side.
  • To have more than one document (or application, such as Explorer) open and in view at any one time, place the mouse arrow over a vacant space on the applications menu bar at the very bottom of the screen. Right click to open a small menu. Choose either TILE WINDOWS VERTICALLY or TILE WINDOWS HORIZONTALLY, depending on your preference.
  • To easily move between open documents, hold down the ALT key and hit the TAB key. If you have multiple documents open, keep hitting the TAB key to move between them. Release the ALT key when you reach the document you want to view. It will then appear on the screen.
  • Changing the background colour of the document can reduce the glare from its 'white space'. Go to VIEW in the Word menu at the top of the page. Select FORMAT. Go down to BACKGROUND to access different background colours. Click on the desired colour (grey is good). You will need to access a lighter shade of grey than 25%. To do this, click on MORE COLOURS and select one.
  • It's a good idea to learn how to manage files you save to your computer's hard drive.
  • For general help in using MS Word, go to Software help - Microsoft Word.

Note: if you are concerned about occupational health and safety issues with electronic marking, or any other work-related computer use, the University has procedures for addressing this issue.

Examples of good practice

Some practical ways you can use MS Word for marking are provided here, with resources that have been contributed by staff:

  • Some staff have used "editors' codes" (Word 31kb - opens in a new window) for commonly used editorial comments.
  • Using autotext (Word 29kb - opens in a new window) to insert frequently used marking feedback may be useful to some staff.
  • This is an example of a grid of commonly used comments (Word 59kb - opens in a new window) that can relate to levels of achievement.
  • This generic marking grid (Word 60kb - opens in a new window) has been used in Nursing programs to develop standardised feedback comments, which can then be inserted using autotext and keyboard shortcuts.