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Learning and Teaching

3. Supporting

Supporting students between the setting and submission of assessments is no more than what you already do – planning and delivering a series of structured sessions and activities, and a range of independent study tasks in order to prepare them for assessment – in other words ‘teaching’!

Different types of assessment may have different support requirements.

Supporting Students

Assessment Literacy: We should not assume that students understand the type of language that we use when we talk about assessment. As members of staff, we are immersed in an assessment system, but students are not. As such, it helps to explain the terms that we use so that students can understand and communicate using the same assessment language as us. For example, it may not be obvious to new students what the terms 'formative' or 'summative' mean. Similarly, feedback which asks students to be more 'critical' will only be effective if we have ensured beforehand that students understand what criticality is. It may be helpful to provide your students with an annotated mark scheme (preferably an interactive, electronic one), which explains common terms. An example is provided here: Interactive Mark Scheme (DOC, 40.2kB), but please note that this is for a hypothetical assessment and does not use a York St John mark scheme. 

Samples of Previous Work: Providing students with examples of previously marked assignments is good academic practice. Students should not be drawn into a guessing game regarding their assessment and it is important that they know how they will be assessed and the nature of the feedback that they will receive. Using class based exercises where students can engage with marking and see how staff mark can help to enhance their assessment literacy and make them more likely to do well. Students will often be anxious about the level to which they are expected to perform, so talking through a marked assignment can help to demystify the process.

Engagement with Marking Criteria: Providing examples of marked assignments also provides an excellent opportunity to engage students with the marking criteria that we use. This can also assure students that assignments are dealt with fairly. Student concerns about favouritism and fair marking can be addressed by involving them in a discussion about the distinctions between marking bands. Developing a sense of understanding regarding marking criteria can also support them to be more reflective with respect to their own work.

Peer Review/Marking/Support: One way of engaging students with marking criteria is to make use of peer review or marking. This also provides a good opportunity for students to receive formative feedback on their own work whilst considering alternative approaches towards assessment tasks. Students are often anxious about peer marking and can be resistant to it on the grounds of their level of academic ability. To counter this, it can be useful to present the exercise as one which is focused on writing and presentation skills, or on practical skills.

Academic Integrity: Using previously marked work and engaging with marking criteria can also contribute to the development of academic integrity. Although ILS provide excellent guidance material on issues such as referencing and using source information, it is still very useful to discuss and demonstrate academic integrity within class. Providing students with exemplars which demonstrate poor academic integrity can alert them to the common mistakes that students make and which may leave them open to accusations of plagiarism. Discussions of the Turnitin reports of assignments which have cut and paste from Internet sources can help to prevent problems arising.

Rob Creasy (May 2015)

Further Help, Information & Advice

The team offer a range of services for staff and students, including IT training & support, information & digital literacy help & advice, and the Search and evaluate success online resource.

Help, information and advice on supporting disabled students is available from Learning Support, who also offer a range of study development workshops, factsheets, short courses, links and tutorials for students.

 is also available to help International students with their English.


Module Leader

  • Provide information in module handbooks about how and when to seek support from the module tutors
  • Be familiar with the range of services available to support individual students if needed
  • Make time in your classes to show and explain ways in which students can make mistakes

Head of Programme

  • Provide information for students about how and when to seek support from the programme team
  • Monitor student support needs and make appropriate recommendations as part of continuous monitoring and improvement
  • Ensure that students are exposed to a wide range of issues related to academic integrity
  • Ensure that your programmes draw on support from services such as ILS, Learning Support and Language Support

Assessment Lifecycle by Academic Development Directorate is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on work at Manchester Metropolitan University Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, some of which was developed as part of the JISC-supported TRAFFIC project.