Search

Communicating Marks, Grades, and Assignments

Information and Privacy Office


A student's mark and grade information is their personal information. As such, the University is obligated to protect this information against unauthorized collection, use, and disclosure. Instructors can help to protect student privacy by being cautious when communicating marks and grades and returning assignments.

Marks and grades

Whenever possible, it is best to communicate marks and grades individually to students or by limited-access means such as WebAdvisor and Nexus. If marks and grades are to be posted publicly, privacy must be maintained. Posting marks and grades along with student names is a clear violation of FIPPA and the University's Privacy Policy and must be avoided. Posting marks and grades along with student numbers can be done but only where privacy is assured. Although once thought of as anonymous, student numbers may be revealed in a variety of ways. For example, a student may be required to record their student number on the front page of an assignment or test. This may permit other students to view the number and associate it with a given classmate. Student numbers may also be exposed via exam rolls. In addition, student numbers are used for a number of non-classroom purposes, such as for library, gym, food service, and bus cards. This increases the chances that a student's number may be revealed.

Instructors who wish to post marks and grades along with student numbers should consider the following steps to maintain anonymity and therefore privacy:

  • Redact student numbers by removing or blacking-out all but the last three digits (or similar)
  • Scramble the class order so that student numbers are listed in random order
  • Avoid public posting for smaller classes (e.g. under 10 or 15) where it may be likely that a student could create an accurate inference regarding another student's mark or grade
  • Post marks and grades for a limited period of time and in a discreet location

Assignments

Marks and comments should be recorded on the inside cover of the assignment or in another discreet location. Whenever possible, completed assignments should be returned to students individually. Where it is impractical to return assignments individually, instructors should consider the following:

  • Sort assignments into a number of piles by surname and oversee classroom distribution
  • Assignments may be left in envelopes with teaching or department assistants for distribution (identification may be requested before an assignment is released)
  • Avoid leaving assignments in a public place where marks and comments, as well as other personal information such as the student's name and number, may be viewed