Show yourself! Personalise your online feedback


One of the benefits of using digital submission tools like Turnitin, is that it helps to make your approaches to feedback consistent across marking teams and can also speed up the process, but the downside to this is that the feedback given can seem to lack your individual voice ( Grieve et al, 2015). Studies have shown that students are concerned about “depersonalisation” of feedback through online marking (Hast and Healy, 2016, p. 13), although more research is needed to explore what the impact of this might be.

Luckily there are ways to add more of yourself to your online feedback in both Moodle assignments and Turnitin. Below are some suggestions:


Quickmarks: Quickmarks are a great way to quickly add comments and feedback to students across a cohort, but can appear rigid and impersonal. Consider creating your own bank of Quickmark comments using your own tone and language. Don’t be afraid to write in the first person, and to address the student likewise. Grieve et al (2015) also found in their research that the students do value some positive praise in their feedback, even things like “nice writing” or “well researched” so consider creating a bank of positive messages you can slip into your more constructive feedback.

For help in creating your own bank of Quickmarks, check out this 1minuteCPD video guide: #397 Create customised Quickmark Sets

Audio feedback: Consider using the audio feedback tool when giving students some overall comments and feedback. Turnitin has an in-built audio recorder which enables you to record a three minute message to your students, research has shown that students respond extremely positively to audio feedback – check out my previous post: The power of voice – Providing audio feedback to students

Rubric: There isn’t much you can do to personalise a rubric, in itself it is designed to standardise feedback and marking. However, did you know what you can link your on-script comments and quickmarks to your rubric? The rubric shows how many comments have been added and gives you a way to give personalised feedback linked to different marking criteria. Clicking on the comments button on the rubric lists the comments linked to the rubric – see screenshots below.






In Moodle assignments there are fewer ‘built in’ personalisation options, but that doesn’t mean you can’t share more personalised feedback with your students.

PDF Annotator:  If your students are submitting PDF documents, then you can now annotate directly onto their work and save and return the annotated PDF to the students as feedback. It is quick and easy to do and helps you to add more directed, personalised feedback for the student. Here is a short video which shows you how: How to annotate student PDFs submitted to Moodle assignments

Annotate word documents: If most of your Moodle assignment submissions are in Word format, another option is to download all the files, add comments and annotate using the tools in Word. If you save the files using the same file names that Moodle gives them, you can re-upload all the files in bulk too. Not sure how to do this? Check out this video: How to annotate student submissions and return your feedback files in bulk (Moodle Assignments)

And…if some of the students have submitted documents as PDF instead of Word, check out how easy it is to convert them into Word documents! #19 Convert PDF to Word. Magic!

Record audio feedback: As mentioned above, audio feedback is very popular with students and research has shown it to be effective too. There’s lots of options you can use to record audio or video feedback for students, have a look at my previous post for more ideas: The power of voice – Providing audio feedback to students



Hast, M. and Healy, C., 2016. Higher education marking in the electronic age: Quantitative and qualitative student insight. Procedia-Social and behavioral sciences228, pp.11-15.

Grieve, R., Padgett, C.R. and Moffitt, R.L., 2016. Assignments 2.0: The role of social presence and computer attitudes in student preferences for online versus offline marking. The Internet and Higher Education28, pp.8-16.







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