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How to pick the best software for grading and assessment

Christine Lee
Christine Lee
Content Manager






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With a wide variety of assessment tools available to instructors, it’s more important than ever to have a clear idea of your needs and pedagogical goals as you make your choice.

Assessment (and subsequently, grading) is an important intersection that can improve student learning outcomes. Feedback is critical to helping students understand next steps, as are rubrics to set expectations and uphold equitable grading practices. Frequent assessments, too, support students throughout the learning journey. These are some of the best assessment practices.

While few educators would contest these practices, these “ivory tower” concepts don’t always play out in reality when instructors have to make a choice between instruction and grading and, let’s face it, sleep and rest. In sum, even when scheduling low-stakes assessments for students, every assessment is high stakes for the instructor.

Assessment tools can help instructors streamline grading and save time; but how do they uphold pedagogy? What are key criteria and questions when finding the best grading solution for your students, educators, and institution? How can a solution go beyond saving time grading, but also provide formative learning opportunities that lead to student success?

If you are looking for software that transforms grading into learning, here are some important questions to ask:
  • Does the service simply mark student answers as incorrect or correct, or does it facilitate student growth? It’s important to have a solution that facilitates meaningful feedback loops between students and educators to support the learning process.
  • Does the service accommodate paper exams and enable students and teachers to digitize work? Can students take tests on paper-based exams that can then be assessed in a digital format? Digitized work allows instructors flexibility in grading. It also supports meaningful discussions when both parties have a copy of the work.
  • Does the service provide scoring flexibility for markers that can allow a grading team to work from anywhere at any time? A grading team should not have to work in the same room simultaneously. At the same time, grading teams should work equitably so that marking is fair across the team. A grading solution should provide dynamic rubrics so that any changes in grading standards are implemented across the team in real time and across all assessments.
  • Does the service accommodate a wide variety of assessment formats? It’s important to provide a variety of assessment formats throughout a course to highlight different components of learning and to accommodate different learning styles. The solution should be able to accommodate short and long answer questions, essays, programming assignments, as well as multiple-choice questions to accurately measure student understanding of concepts.
  • Does the service provide data insights (item analysis) into student answers? Knowing what students do and do not know is critical to future exam design. Furthermore, data insights can inform teaching interventions to support students.

At Turnitin, we offer solutions that help instructors save time while grading. Gradescope’s features also enable instructors to design assessments with integrity, enable feedback loops, and provide data insights into student progress. Our tools support the entire end-to-end assessment process at scale.