Best Practices With Marking Guide: Providing Fuller, Faster, and More Frequent Feedback

Advanced grading methods are popular among instructors when communicating expectations for an assignment, providing focused feedback, and grading final products. While they may not make you "faster than a speeding bullet more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound", these ‘super tools’ can enable you to spend less time grading while providing your students with detailed feedback.

In this article, we highlight Moodle™’s marking guide best practices, now available to customers of Open LMS’s learning management system.

What Is a Marking Guide?

A marking guide is an advanced grading method that allows instructors to articulate expectations for an assignment by listing the criteria or ‘what counts’ and assigning points based on a student’s level of achievement regarding that criteria.

Similar to Rubrics, marking guides allow instructors to share grading criteria with students prior to their working on the assignment. With this advanced grading method, there is no specific point value associated with each criterion. What marking guides allow you to do is grade using a range of points for each criterion.

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How Do Marking Guides Help Instructors?

Marking guides, along with other advanced grading methods, allow instructors to create their own evaluation forms through the identification of specific criteria for grading and the value for each of those criteria. They also make it easier for instructors to grade subjective assignments (i.e. papers and essays) according to consistent criteria. The following are some benefits of using Moodle™marking guides in Open LMS.

Frequently Used Comments

The frequently used comments feature available in Open LMS’s marking guides allows instructors to create a set of frequently used feedback snippets making the addition of common comments much quicker. Additional customized feedback can be included as well, tailoring even these canned comments to each student’s performance.


Marking guides can be reused throughout a course, saving time for course builders. If saved as a site-wide template by a site administrator, marking guides can even be reused in other courses on the same Moodle™ instance. Because marking guides are included in a course backup, the grading setup is kept intact upon restoration.

Improvement of Course Content

Authentically monitoring the learning process using advanced grading methods also helps teachers develop and revise lesson plans by identifying targeted areas of student success and challenge. When grading activities using marking guides, instructors can provide feedback for each criterion and overall feedback for the activity itself. This provides opportunities for more focused evaluation per criteria. By taking note of these areas during grading, instructors can use that information to build in support material.

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How Do Marking Guides Help Learners?

Grading Transparency

Marking guides create transparency by clearly stating the expectations for an assignment. Sharing these both before and after grading lets students know what is expected of them and demystifies the grading process.


Marking guides provide a way for a student to measure the quality of a body of work before submitting it. Access to the grading criteria allows students to self-assess their work. When a student’s assessment and a teacher's assessment don't agree, it creates an opportunity for conversation. Students can set up a conference with the instructors to explain the content and justify the final product.

Best Practices When Creating Marking Guides

Whether you employ marking guides or one of the other advanced grading methods available in Joule 2, consider the following food for thought:

  • Take advantage of your ability to reuse these forms and create marking guides that meet multiple purposes throughout your course(s).
  • Involve students in determining the grading criteria of the marking guide. When students feel empowered, their learning becomes more focused and self-directed. Intrinsic motivation occurs when students have a hand in designing their own assessment tools. Additionally, students involved in determining grading criteria may have a more concrete understanding of what is expected and how to reach set standards.
  • Proof the marking guide before making it available to students. While the system will allow you to make updates after students have begun completing the assignment these updates should be reserved for small changes such as spelling or grammar errors. As a best practice avoid making edits that change the heart of the criteria or their assigned point values to preserve the legitimacy of student submissions.

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When students understand what is expected of them and how to reach these standards, they’re likely to produce higher-quality work. Increased learning, less time spent grading, and the enjoyment of higher quality work… who wouldn’t love that? Enjoy exploring this feature and supercharge your grading process!

If you want to know more about Open LMS and how it can help you solve your digital learning needs, contact us! We’ll be glad to schedule a demo to show you our solutions.

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