Assessment, Feedback, Marking

JISC and Manchester Metropolitan University Assessment and Feedback lifecycle

Transforming Assessment and Feedback for Institutional Change

A key part of university life this section provides guidance for both staff and students around the topic of Assessment.


eAssessment is the end-to-end electronic assessment processes where ICT is used for the presentation of assessment activity, and the recording of responses. This includes the end-to-end assessment process from the perspective of learners, tutors, learning establishments, awarding bodies and regulators, and the general public.

JISC/QCA definition of eAssessment: (JISC), Joint Information Systems Committee. Effective Practice with e-Assessment: An Overview of Technologies, Policies and Practice in Further and Higher Education. Joint Information Systems Committee, 2007.


What is EMA?

Electronic management of assessment (EMA) is a term increasingly used to describe the way technology is used across the assessment lifecycle to support the electronic submission, making, and feedback of work to students.

The educational sector has begun to see the benefits in using technology to support and streamline these processes, including assessment scheduling, assignment submission, managing mitigating circumstances, the approval of extensions, plagiarism detection and academic integrity, academic misconduct processes, examinations, mark recording, managing external examiners and moderation.

Benefits of EMA

The exact benefits afforded will depend upon the electronic processes that an institution adopts, though these will include both pedagogic benefits and administrative efficiencies.

Research is showing the overall students have a preference for EMA though a minority will need additional support due to access and accessibility needs.

Staff Students
  • Improve the standard and consistency of marking and feedback comments.
  • Improved clarity of marking and feedback (especially the ability to include lengthy comments at the appropriate point in the text).
  • Flexible access.
  • Reduced administrative burden.
  • More time for individuals experiencing difficulties.
  • New opportunities to improve student understanding
  • Access to better analytics.
  • Improved feedback has a positive impact on student attainment.
  • Don’t need to collect and carry large quantities of paper.
  • The convenience of electronic filing.
  • The security of having work backed up.
  • Easier moderation, don’t have to physically exchange papers.
  • Better efficiency of being able to reuse common comments.
  • Improved morale through not having to write out repeated comments.
  • Access to originality and plagiarism checking in the same environment as marking.
  • Reduced data input and batch upload of marks.


  • Don’t have to travel to hand in assignments
  • No printing costs
  • Time savings and reduced anxiety about assignments going missing in the postal system
  • Automatic proof of receipt
  • Improved confidence (privacy, safety and security ) of e-submission
  • Confidence of knowing work is backed up
  • Electronic reminders about deadlines.
  • Improved clarity about turnaround times for marking.
  • Meeting expectations – normal practice in a digital age
  • Improved clarity and understanding of feedback (deciphering handwriting)
  • Improved timeliness
  • Increased privacy
  • Many students report that feedback in electronic form is easier to use and therefore more likely they will revisit it at a later date.

For an institution an EMA can save a considerable amount administrative time associated with the receiving, processing, distributing and filing/archiving of assignments.

The Drawbacks

As with any process there is no single perfect way and the overall value of EMS depends very much on the organisational context.

EMA is much easier to apply to the traditional assessment types (text based submissions). Assessments requiring formulas and notation (maths, music etc.), multimedia content (audio, video, HTML etc.), images (cartography, art and design) or performances and presentations are currently not able to be submitted and processed through the system. There are workarounds though which should not preclude you from setting this type of assessment.

The research suggests that though students and administrative staff are quick to see the benefits of EMA academic staff have a much more mixed view. Concerns about any changes to working practice that could impact accessibility, health and safety, time all need to be addressed. In many of these instances technology can also provide a solution.

Jisc’s detailed guide to change management includes strategies relating to EMA.