Preparing for online and on-screen marking

This document summarises, and links to, guidance from across the LSE on how to prepare for marking during an online assessment period and how to ensure it is “inclusive and equitable”[1]. It covers three principal areas:

  • Preparing for marking

  • The marking process and providing feedback

  • Looking after yourself as a marker

Preparing for marking

The LSE has set out how to provide an equitable and accessible assessment period for students and further guidance materials can be found via the ‘Online assessment resources for LSE staff’ page, including guidance for Sub-Boards of Examiners at undergraduate and graduate level. Please make sure you are familiar with the guidance before you start marking, and also any Department specific guidance. Please also refer to sections 8 and 13 of the Instructions for Examiners for information for Internal Examiners about marking.

Given the changes to methods and modes of assessment, the marking criteria for your course may also have been changed or have a different nuance. It is important, therefore, that you are familiar with the current marking criteria before you begin your marking, and are confident that you understand how you should mark individual assignments. Ideally, you should take part in a co-ordination activity to ensure that your marking is both fair and consistent with other markers, so that you are neither too harsh nor too lenient.

Some Departments have a department-wide policy on whether marking will take place online in Moodle or offline on-screen. If you are using Moodle to download and/ or mark assignments, please refer to the Assessment section of the LSE Moodle Guides. You can start marking immediately after an assessment’s deadline. Remember, that as soon as you start the marking process (regardless if that is marking online or download assessments for offline marking) you must lock the assignments on Moodle. That will prevent students editing their submissions past the deadline.

The marking process

As you begin your marking, you should also consider if, and how, your expectations of student attainment have changed in the shift to open book assessment. You may ordinarily expect students to do better than they would in an exam. However, you need to take into account the fact that students may be unfamiliar with this assessment type and certainly with the circumstances associated with this assessment period. This is why it is paramount that you apply the marking criteria fairly and consistently to each student assignment and that the notion of ‘no disadvantage’ is applied equally.

You should follow the same Departmental procedures as you would if you were marking a paper exam in terms of any script comments and the amount and nature of the feedback provided to students (please see below for further guidance on structuring feedback). For any summative assessment that is failed, students will need to receive feedback in time to prepare for the resit or resubmission, which will be particularly important for undergraduate students entering the in-year resit and deferral period. For summative assessment failed in Summer Term, feedback may take the form of general guidance on how to have approached that assessment.[2]

If students have submitted in PDF format, there is specific guidance on annotating in PDF files. Please be aware that it is possible for markers to both delete and/or change the comments for each other. Therefore, second markers should be particularly alert to this.

If you have any concerns about plagiarism or collusion, please refer to Plagiarism Guidance Information for LSE staff.

Again, Departments vary on whether marks and feedback should be uploaded directly into Moodle or not.  If you are uploading marks and feedback into Moodle, the Assessment section of the LSE Moodle Guides has guidance on how to enter marks and feedback either directly into Moodle or how to import them using a downloadable grading worksheet.

Providing feedback

This guidance complements the advice and resources available via the Eden Centre’s resources section ‘Effective feedback’. In the sub-section, How are students encouraged and equipped to enter a dialogue with teachers?, we have provided two pro-formas that are designed with the principles of effective feedback in mind. Practical guidance is provided so that you can adapt these pro-formas in any way to suit your needs. If, however, you would like advice on any adjustments you plan to make, please contact your Eden Centre department adviser.

If you are considering providing audio feedback on assessment, you will find it useful to look at the Eden Centre guidance on this approach. Please keep in mind that audio feedback needs to ensure the anonymity of markers, where relevant.

Looking after yourself as a marker

Increasingly LSE marking during term time is done on-screen in either Word or PDF, but you may be spending longer online or on-screen than you would normally do. One suggestion for reducing the time spent is to compile a comment bank - a file containing a series of phrases adapted from the marking criteria for the assessment. You can then copy and paste these comments, editing them where necessary to ensure they respond to the individual piece of work.

It is important, however, to take extended periods working online/on-screen into account when scheduling your marking and to ensure that you take sufficient breaks. The LSE has provided some advice and information on remote/home working and has previously sent out an online home-working assessment tool for permanent staff. The Health and Safety Executive also has some guidance for home-workers. If you have any concerns you can contact LSE’s Health and Safety team.


[1] Principles of Assessment at LSE, April 2018.

[2] (2.7)