Anonymous marking in Moodle

The University has adopted a principle of anonymous marking to protect students and staff from bias, and the perception of bias, in the marking process. It applies to all assessment where practical. QA16 Assessment, Marking and Feedback details the principles and procedures for the design & development of assessment & feedback strategies for taught courses, including anonymous marking.

Important Information

Anonymous marking must be enabled when the relevant Assignment activity is created and prior to it being saved for the first time. This setting cannot be applied after a student submission has been made. You must create fresh Assignment submission points for each new assessment. Do not duplicate or re-use assignments, as this will cause issues with anonymity, which is a ‘one way’ process.

Step 1: Enable anonymous marking in the Assignment activity

In the Settings of the relevant Assignment activity, scroll to the section entitled Grade and set the Blind Marking option to Yes.

Step 2: Confirm anonymous marking has been enabled

You can check that anonymous marking has been enabled by visiting the assignment overview. This is usually done by:

  • Visiting your course home page
  • Clicking on the assignment activity name (e.g. Assignment 1), and then, 
  • Clicking on the View/grade all submissions link in the central part of the page

As shown below, the usual columns of students’ names have been replaced by a new column called Identifier, where a Participant number is displayed. 

Screenshot showing submissions overview, with Participant IDs in the place of student names

Please note that this number is automatically generated by Moodle and does not correspond any other data or information held by the University of Bath e.g. Bath username, Student ID in SAMIS etc.

Step 3: Mark submitted work

To mark submitted work, see our guides to How to mark an assignment online or How to grade mark an assignment offline and upload feedback.

Step 4: Reveal student names to the marker and return marks to students

Proceed with caution! Student names can only be revealed as a one-time operation. Once this has been done, student names cannot be reverted to Participant Identifiers. As such, you should only complete the following steps, should you be absolutely sure that this is as intended.

To reveal student identities, see our guide on How to lift anonymity in an assignment

Moodle anonymous marking FAQ

 No. Moodle anonymity is absolute and is applied to the entire cohort equally. As this is the case, owners of specific submissions can only be identified in Moodle once anonymity has been lifted.

We recommend that students put an identifier (such as their student ID or candidate number) into the file name, and the body, of the document they are submitting so that they can be identified if there is a problem. In theory this practice also enables you to identify students who have not submitted their work although the process is time consuming and not normally recommended.  Normally the names of students are revealed at the end of the marking process when anonymity is lifted. Reminders to students to submit their work on time should be sent to the whole cohort.

Moodle extensions enable students to submit their assignments after the specified due date (without Moodle highlighting the submission as being overdue).  This also enables users to submit files after any cut-off date that may have been specified in the assignment.  Combining this feature with Moodle’s group functionality means that staff can apply extensions to select groups of users rather than to individuals – thus retaining the anonymity of the individual.

You should seek to create and populate a group within your Moodle course.  This group should contain those individuals who require an extension and will enable you to differentiate them from the rest of the course participants (whilst still retaining anonymity).

Important note on retaining anonymity and maintaining student privacy:  It’s important to avoid naming the group ‘Extensions’ as students can see Groups and their members from the Participants page. Instead use a generic Group A or Group 1 name.  Also, do not put student names in the name of the groups as this obviously breaks anonymity.

To apply the group functionality to the Assignment activity, go to the activity settings, scroll to the section entitled Common module settings andselect the Separate Groups within the Group Mode field. Once you have done this, remember to scroll to the bottom of the page and click on one of the Save buttons.

After applying setting, enabling extensions can be be granted to group members as appropriate by visiting the assignment submission overview screen, selecting the group name from the top left hand corner of this interface (as shown below).

Screenshot showing dropdown to select group (named Group A, for example)

Once the participants have been filtered in this way, members of the group can then be granted extensions as shown below.

Note:  If students have been granted different extensions, you will require more than one group.

Clearly, true anonymity can only take place if more than one student is receiving an extension in this way

This number is recorded in the offline grading worksheet. This can be done by visiting the assignment marking interface and, as shown below, selecting Download grading worksheet from the Grading action dropdown menu.

If you download this at any point after anonymity has been lifted it will show both the student name and the identifier that was used for their submission.

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