Electronic Management of Assessment

What is it?

The term electronic management of assessment (EMA) is increasingly being used to describe the way that technology can be used to support the management of the whole assessment and feedback lifecycle, including the electronic submission of assignments, marking, feedback and the return of marks and feedback to students. (Jisc) 

Electronic submission of assingments refers to the process by which a student submits work online for storage and retrieval by academic, administrative or other staff for marking, feedback or review. This can also include originality checking to help identify plagiarism using Turnitin.

Electronic marking is the process by which staff provide marks and feedback to students online (through the Blackboard Grade Centre), which can include online annotations eg using Blackboard inline grading, annotated files eg using comments in Microsoft Word, audio, video, or the use of online forms.


Why use it?

Some reasons for considering the use of electronic submission and electronic marking include:

  • Flexibility and convenience e.g. students can submit assignments or access marks and feedback from anywhere without being restricted by office hours
  • Saving paper and reducing printing and toner costs if using electornic marking 
  • Tracking submissions and progress (for staff and students)
  • Ability to use text-matching software (Turnitin), which is integrated with Blackboard, to help identify plagiarism
  • Whole process can be managed in one central, secure and familiar system (Blackboard)
  • Archiving of assignments, feedback and marks for future reference e.g. for external examiner access
  • Provision of clear, legible, timely and easily accessible feedback
  • Opportunities for innovative and engaging feedback e.g. audio or video, as well as greater consistency e.g. through use of comment banks or rubrics showing feedback relating to assessment criteria
  • Markers do not have to collect and carry large quantities of paper, they can access their marking from anywhere and they can start marking as soon as all assingment have been submitted. 
  • Markers can re-edit their feedback in a document as they go through it, can re-use common feedback and can use hyperlinks to direct students to further resources
  • Feedback is stored alongside learning materials (in Blackboard), enabling students to refer to these easily

JISC has worked with several institutions on EAM and evaluated these projects. They have summarised some of the benefits for students and benefits for staff.

How does it work in Blackboard?

A typical basic workflow involves the following stages:

  1. Setup - Instructor creates the submission point. 
  2. Submission - Students submit their assignments
  3. Originality check - assignments are put through Turnitin and reports analysed
  4. Marking - markers add marks and feedback in the Blackboard Grade Centre
  5. Feedback - students access their own marks and feedback

Depending on your role in the process you may be involved in some of these stages but not others.


Blackboard offers both full and trust-based anonymous marking options. Please contact the Digital Education office for further advice.  More guidance on anonymity is available in Section 14 of the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.

Examples of approaches to electronic marking

  • Use Blackboard's inline grading tool. This allows markers to annotate work directly in Blackboard, without having to download and upload files. See this inline grading tutorial (video, 2 minutes).
  • Annotate work, for example using comments in Word or Adobe Reader. Upload annotated assignments and/or feedback sheets back into Blackboard
  • Fill in an online feedback form (rubric) in Blackboard. See this online rubric tutorial (video, 3 minutes). Turnitin Grademark also offers rubrics: (screenshot of example used in the School of Modern Languages).
  • Download student work via Google Drive to a tablet e. ipad. Annotate using an App such as Notability or i-Annotate, possibly using a stylus for handwritten annotations. Upload back into Blackboard. See this case study: marking using an iPad.
  • Create audio or video/screencast feedback, and make this available to students via Blackboard. See this case study: audio and video feedback using Jing.
  • Use Turnitin Grademark, an onscreen marking tool available via Blackboard, to annotate work directly online without having to download and upload files. Also offers reusable comments and a mobile app for iPad. See these case studies: marking using Turnitin Grademark, marking using Turnitin Grademark iPad app.

How do I start using Blackboard or Turnitin to manage submission of assingments and marking online? 

For large-scale implementation of EMA the Digital Education Office can provide packages containing standard components, which can be tailored for particular needs. These can be copied into multiple Blackboard courses ensuring consistency and reducing setup and maintenance time. We can also offer help in the planning process, so please contact us.

Also refer to the guidance on planning electronic submission and marking, and to the University Regulations and Code of Practice for taught Programmes (sections 9.22 to 9.27 of  Section 9: Conduct of Assessment).

What support is available?

If you would like any advice or consultation on online submission please contact us.

Further information

Presentation: online approaches to marking and feedback

Roger Gardner delivered a presentation as part of the Education Excellence Seminar series. In it he explores ideas of effective feedback, and how technology can support this.  It shows a range of approaches, with benefits and considerations.

Useful links

Note: some of the documents on this page are in PDF format. In order to view a PDF you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader