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Marking and Giving Feedback

This inclusive teaching guide is aligned to Baseline Standard 1, 3 & 4 and the  Professional Standards Framework A3. It provides guidance on how you can mark work and provide feedback inclusively, in line with the Institutional Assessment Strategy. 

Please note- The University's Inclusive Marking Policy has been replaced with the Policy on Assessment of Written English for 2022-23


All forms of assessment require particular skills and competencies. For example, timed unseen exams often require memory recall, and oral presentations often require students to speak in front of others. This can put some students at a disadvantage. In the case of assessment via writing, some students will find it harder than others to demonstrate their learning. It is therefore important to be clear about the expected standard of the written English and support students wherever possible to understand and meet this standard. Consistency and clarity among staff involved assessing work is also vital.

Designing your assessment

  • Consider the learning outcomes you wish to assess, the level of study and expected/ anticipated prior knowledge of your students before designing your assessment. See our guide to Designing Assessments for further advice.
  • Where several colleagues are involved in marking an assessment, collectively agree on the task demands, and pass standard, prior to setting the assessment.

Creating or amending your marking criteria

  • Check and ensure that marking criteria reflect the nature of the tasks being asked of students, taking into account any external reference points or requirements.
  • Check that the standards for the expected level and style of written English which are appropriate to the discipline are clearly specified in the criteria.

Informing your students

  • Include assessment or task briefs in all Minerva module templates (and module handbooks if using them), outlining to students what is expected of them. Ensure they are written in student friendly language, free from ambiguity.
  • During induction and at key points in the term, include sessions to help prepare students for the style, language and types of assessment they will encounter, including discussion of the University’s approach to assessing written English. Hold similar sessions at the start of each new level to help them understand any differences in expectations and the nature of new tasks they will encounter.
  • Seek feedback from students on their understanding and use of assessment criteria, through discussions with the cohort and aim to generate a shared understanding at a programme level.
  • Ensure that students know where they can access resources about the School’s approach to assessment and feedback, such as the CoPA.

Preparation for marking

  • Ensure that everyone involved in assessing the work (including new staff and PGRs), has undergone training in your schools assessment regimes covering the marking criteria and approach to assessing written English.
  • Use calibration exercises to try to ensure that those marking that task give similar marks.
  • Bring all those involved in assessing a given task in a module together to agree on task demands including what is necessary to meet the passing standard and the different grade boundaries. This should also include ensuring a shared understanding of the expected threshold level of written English.
  • Prior to marking, encourage staff to review the task demands set out in the brief provided for students alongside the marking criteria (provided to students and being used by markers).

Marking and providing feedback inclusively

  • Where student work is “flagged” for marking consideration (as a reasonable adjustment), follow Disability Services guidance for providing feedback on flagged work.
  • If you use electronic marking to provide feedback, don’t rely on standard feedback libraries only, but also provide constructive in-text feedback.
  • Ensure that feedback acknowledges what was done well, as well as guidance on how to improve, avoiding simple terms, such as ‘good’, ‘needs more elaboration’ etc, as these terms are not informative enough. If using audio or video feedback, ensure specificity of which part of the text the feedback refers to.
  • Avoid the use of symbols (i.e. ?, X, ü) unless the meanings are explained to students and the system is used consistently among staff within the programme. Be aware of (and aim to remove at source) potential issues for students on interdisciplinary programmes and joint honours programmes.
  • When feedback is complete, review the feedback and the mark awarded to ensure there is appropriate agreement/ alignment between them.

Giving clear feedback

  • Be positive: state what has been done well.
  • Be constructive: explain what is required to improve further.
  • Write legibly, typing wherever possible, using plain English.
  • Be sensitive.
  • Annotate papers and provide a key if coding different types of error.
  • Students will naturally assume that every comment is against something which has affected their marks. Make clear where a comment is for information only.
  • Make clear where comments on English language are to support skills development, and be clear about whether this has affected marks.
  • Where feasible, offer the option of verbal feedback in addition to written comments.
  • Set comments against marking criteria and learning outcomes.


Guide written by  Jenny Brady, Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence

University of Leeds 2022 | Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0)