How can I give feedback and grade student work?

Feedback is one of the most critical parts of the learning process. This section provides an overview on evaluating your students’ work and managing your grades and feedback with technologies supported by the Division of Information Technology (DOIT) and the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL).

Communicating before and after an assignment

Start with clear instructions, a direct assignment prompt, and grading criteria. Explicit instructions reduce confusion and the number of emails that you may receive from your students requesting clarification on an assignment. Your assignment instructions should detail:

  • Length requirements
  • Formatting requirements
  • Expectations of style, voice, and tone for writing assignments
  • Acceptable structure for reference citations
  • Due date(s)
  • Technology requirements needed for the assignment
  • Description of the measures used to evaluate success

Offer meaningful feedback and a timely response when grading. There are many ways to provide feedback to students on submitted work. Regardless of the grading strategy and tool that you choose, there are a few best practices to consider when providing student feedback:

  1. Feedback should be prompt. Send feedback as soon as possible after the assignment to give students an adequate amount of time to reflect before moving on to the next assignment.
  2. Feedback should be equitable. Rubrics can help ensure that students are receiving consistent feedback for similar work. 
  3. Feedback should be formative. Meaningful feedback focuses on students’ strengths and shares constructive areas to further develop their skills.


Reducing bias in grading

Assess student work using inclusive practices by grading blind. Blind grading removes any potential positive or negative bias from an individual’s work. However, blind grading can also make it difficult to address specific students’ needs and provide individualized support. Consider the needs of your students and use blind grading when appropriate.

Using rubrics to grade consistently

Create customized rubrics for your Blackboard Assignments. A well-designed rubric:

  • Provides clear criteria for success that help students produce better work and instructors to be consistent with grading.
  • Points out specific areas for students to address in future assignments.
  • Allows for consistency in grading and more meaningful feedback.


Managing student submissions

Use the Blackboard Gradebook to manage student submissions and grades. In the Gradebook, you can enter and manage student grades and feedback for your course in an easy-to-use spreadsheet format. Some tools in Blackboard, such as Assignments, Tests & Quizzes, or Forums, either automatically grade assessments or automatically populate your manually entered grades into the Gradebook.

You can also create columns in the Gradebook to manually enter grades and organize grades into categories. Categories can be used to assign weighted grades to student work and automatically drop grades in a specific category. All grades can be exported to a CSV file to keep track outside of Blackboard.

Creative Commons License

Flexible Teaching guides were developed by Duke Learning Innovation and adapted for NIU by the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. They are shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Hybrid Course Delivery

Are you planning to deliver a hybrid course? Learn more tips for designing and delivering a hybrid class.

Guide to Hybrid Course Delivery


Didn’t find what you were looking for? Need more information? Contact the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL) with your feedback and questions about this resource.

Workshops & Support

CITL staff are available to answer your questions about Flexible Teaching. Give us a call or text 815-753-0595 or email for assistance. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our staff.

View CITL upcoming events to view available upcoming workshops offered or to register.

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