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Lesson 4: Grading and Feedback

Getting started with grading and feedback

Grading and feedback play an important role in the student learning process. Learning often focuses on lasting change in knowledge, beliefs, behavior, attitudes and how students interpret and respond to their own experiences. Both grading and feedback provide insight and direction in student learning and development (Ambrose et al., 2010, Baleni, 2015; Boud & Falchikov, 2006).


Grading is used to determine if a student has reached a level of achievement, to provide a grade, inform instructional practices, and identify gaps in student learning. Although there are many similarities to online grading with standard grading, there are some considerations to be aware of.

Online grading strategies include:

  1. Ensure students are clear about the assignment expectations, alignment to course learning outcomes, and purpose to prevent out of scope student work.
  2. Require students to follow a specific file naming convention such as LastName_FirstName_AssignmentName.ext. If you download a lot of files you will know who it belongs to before you even open it.
  3. Keep accessibility in mind. If students use software that requires accounts or special software, make sure you can access their work or require them to submit it in a common format (ie MS Word or PDF).
  4. Use a rubric for both efficient grading and providing feedback.
  5. Meet with TAs to calibrate grading, use of rubrics, and feedback to students.


Meaningful feedback can enhance student engagement in online courses, influence motivation, and encourage self-directed learning (Evans, 2013; Pereira et al., 2016).

Feedback strategies for online learning:

  1. Automate feedback where possible: D2L quizzes questions such as multiple-choice, multiple answer, and true and false can be automatically graded with immediate feedback. Such quizzes can be used for short formative tests throughout the course that also provide the instructor with valuable feedback on student learning.
  2. Try video or audio feedback (Brown, 2019): D2L has video/audio ability or use more robust video software like YuJa or Zoom to record real-time feedback with document mark-up and showing students the completed rubric. This approach can also foster a sense of connection between the student and the instructor.
  3. Leverage peer feedback: Using small groups or pairs in D2L discussions students can provide each other feedback on their work. Consider giving students the assignment rubric or specific criteria/questions to guide their feedback.
  4. Create a D2L FAQ discussion forum: When you receive common questions about the assignment or need to provide common feedback, post your answers into a FAQ discussion for all students to have access to.
  5. Use rubrics: You can either attach a rubric to an assignment or create a rubric in D2L to provide guidance to students but also to provide efficient feedback, especially for common feedback.
  6. Use Zoom or D2L to engage in conversation about feedback to either individual students or the entire class.
  7. Online courses move quickly so be timely with feedback and provide opportunities for students to apply feedback to subsequent assessments.

Lesson checklist


  • Consider the role of feedback in student learning and engagement

  • Apply online grading strategies to collect and grade student work.

  • View rubric examples and identify how to best use rubrics for online grading and feedback

  • Create a rubric for an online assessment


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