1. How strict is the 20 University work days turnaround deadline?
The deadline should be viewed as strict and compliance with the policy will be overseen by Heads of Department, Faculty Boards and the Academic Quality and Standards Committee (AQSC).
20 University working days does not include either statutory or customary days communicated by the Registrar to Heads of Departments on an annual basis.
2. What does 'feedback' in the context of the Policy mean?
‘Feedback’ in the context of the Policy refers to the return of the piece of assessed work, together with comments and a mark. It is expected that the returned mark will have been moderated or second-marked.
3. Does the 20 working days turnaround time apply during vacation periods?
As set out in Section 1 above, allowance is made for the bank holidays and days on which the University is closed over Christmas. Therefore, if a deadline for submission of a piece of assessed work was the last day of term (Friday 7th December 2012) the latest date on which the assignment should be returned would be Tuesday 15th January 2013.
Easter and Summer
Yes, the 20 University work days turnaround time does apply, allowing for the statutory days that fall within this period. That is, if the 20 University working days deadline for return of feedback falls during a vacation period, departments are still expected to make feedback available to students during this period. Adopting an electronic method of feedback will aid this process.
4. Are exams included?
While it is expected that feedback be provided to students on examinations, this is not subject to the 20 day turnaround time policy. However consideration should be given to supporting students resitting examinations during the summer vacation through provision of cohort level feedback.
5. Are dissertations included in the policy?
No. This issue of what constitutes a dissertation or extended research project at both UG and PGT levels is under discussion by AQSC and further work will be undertaken by Teaching Quality to define this.
6. Does the policy apply to formative as well as summative assessments?
The Policy that assignments should be returned to students within 20 University working days applies to all types of assessment whether formative or summative. However, it is recognised that there are certain types of formative assessment that are undertaken by students on a very regular basis, for instance weekly, and returned within very short timescales. Monitoring of all these assessments would be excessively burdensome for departments and it will not therefore be necessary to monitor all such assessments. It is, however, recommended that a sample be monitored annually. Where formative assessments, however, are less frequent and are, for instance, standard essays, the Policy should still apply.
7. How does the Policy apply to multi-stage assessments?
Where departments have modules with multi-stage assignments, the deadline of the final part of the assignment will count as the ‘deadline’ from which to calculate the final return date.
8. Does the Policy apply if there is a case of suspected plagiarism?
If a member of staff suspects a case/cases of plagiarism whilst marking, the rest of the cohort should receive their feedback within the normal timescale and a communication should be sent to the student(s) involved to explain why their work will not be returned at the same time. Communications with the student(s) will then proceed in adherence with Regulation 11.
If, after investigation, the work is found not to be plagiarised, the work should be marked and returned to the student within 20 University working days of the end of the investigation.
9. Does the Policy apply to assessment submitted during Term 3?
Where a summative essay submitted in Term 3 shares content with an examination, the feedback for the essay may be provided after the Examination Board has confirmed the marks.
10. Are PGT assessments included within the policy?
Yes. PGT assessments are to be treated in the same way as undergraduate assessment.
If coursework submissions during the third term are likely to be formative towards student performance in the dissertation component of the programme, departments are encouraged to give feedback on such coursework within the normal 20 University working days schedule where possible, and to indicate clearly if this will not be the case.
11. Will extensions be considered? If so, by whom?
Extensions, in exceptional circumstances, may be considered on the ground that the imposition of a 20 University working days turnaround time would seriously impair the pedagogical effectiveness of the feedback process and thereby disadvantage students. Staff convenience is not an acceptable ground for an extension.
Where there is an issue of illness within a department, this is to be dealt with locally and an extension need not be sought. Clear communications should be sent to all affected students explaining the issue, how it is being mitigated and providing a new date when the feedback is to be expected.
The Chair of the Board of Undergraduate Studies will consider extensions for undergraduate courses, whilst the Chair of the Board of Graduate Studies will consider extensions for postgraduate taught courses. Consultation with the relevant student cohort should be demonstrated when an extension is sought.
Requests for extension should be made at the earliest opportunity – normally ahead of the academic year commencing, so that accurate dates for submission and feedback can be conveyed to students.
Extensions will be reported to AQSC on an annual basis.
12. Heads of Department are required to monitor adherence to the 20 University working days turnaround time. How and where will this be monitored and overseen?
Heads of Department will monitor all assessment turnaround times across all modules in their department from 2012/13. The process for consideration of the data will be:
(a) Information relating to submission dates which have occurred since the previous ‘census’, should be collated by departments and submitted to Teaching Quality (Faculty Secretariat) by Friday of Week 2 of each term.
(b) Teaching Quality review data to identify modules on which assignments have not met the 4 week timescale.
(c) Data considered by working group of each Faculty Board (where these have been established).
(d) Headline reports considered by Faculty Undergraduate and Graduate Sub-Committees
(e) Headline reports received by Faculty Boards
(f) Turnaround time summary paper (including Faculty breakdown) considered by AQSC
Once departments have collated the data, Heads of Department will identify any causes for concern and will work with individuals to identify any factors that prevented assignments being returned within the 20 University working days timescale. Chairs of Faculty will offer support and guidance to Heads of Department as necessary so that any issues are remedied quickly. Updates on steps taken to address any issues can therefore be provided when a headline report is received at the Faculty Board later in the term.
13. Are all departments required to use the University’s electronic Student Assignment Management system (SAM)?
Academic departments are strongly encouraged to use the Student Assignment Management system for e-submission and e-feedback. Adopting an electronic method of both submission and feedback will make the reporting of turnaround-time data much easier for departments. IT Services are continuing to introduce enhanced functionality to SAM on an ongoing basis and departments are encouraged to raise development requirements with the Project Board.
SAM can be used to produce turnaround time data for those modules where it has been adopted.
For departments where some modules are still employing manual submission and feedback, data on turnaround times will need to be collected manually via an Excel spreadsheet (a template of which is available from Teaching Quality).
From 2013/14 onwards, it is expected that departments adopt an electronic method of feedback across the majority of their modules (SAM, Moodle, or a locally developed system) where possible. Using an electronic form of submission and feedback will make the collation and reporting of turnaround times easier, as the programme will be able to produce the required data for each department.
Any departments opting not to use electronic submission and feedback at all on some modules from 2013/14 will be required to collate monitoring data manually via an Excel spreadsheet.
Approved: December 2012
Updated: December 2014
Updated: July 2016