Best practices with Marking Guide: Providing fuller, faster, and more frequent feedback

Moodle™ and Joule’s advanced grading methods are popular with instructors as a means of 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. This blog post spotlights Moodle™’s Marking Guide now available to Open LMS ’ Joule 2 customers.

What is a Marking guide?

Marking Guide is an advanced grading method that 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 guide allows you to do is grade using a range of points for each criterion.

The screenshot below is an example of a Marking guide shown from the Teacher role.

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 essays) according to consistent criteria.

Frequently used comments

The Frequently used comments feature available in Marking guide 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 as well. Because Marking guides are included in a course backup the grading setup is kept intact upon restore.

Improvement of course content

Authentically monitoring the learning process using advanced grading methods also help teachers develop and revise lesson plans by identifying targeted areas of student success and struggle. When grading activities using marking guides instructors can provide feedback for each criteria as well as 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.

How do Marking guides help students?

Transparency in grading

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


Marking guides provide a way for a student to measure the quality of a body of work before submitting. 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. Consider allowing students to set up a conference with you to explain his or her understanding of 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.

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 new feature and supercharge your grading process. To learn more about using Marking guides and other advanced grading methods consider enrolling in our online course Mastering the Gradebook in Moodle™ and Joule.





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