The purpose of this guide
At some point in your life you will have been tested or assessed. You probably took examinations at
school, had a driving test or have been assessed to make sure that you can do your job
Many people have poor experiences of tests or examinations from their earlier education and this
can make them anxious about submitting a piece of work which is going to be assessed. You will
certainly not be alone if you experience this feeling, and the purpose of this guide is to help you
overcome any apprehension you may have about assessment at The Open University.
This guide will explain the different types of assessment you are likely to encounter as you progress
through your studies. It will help you to make the most of the assessments, so that you can
demonstrate what you have learned. The other important document is the Assessment
Handbook, which can be accessed online from your StudentHome page and the ‘Assessment’ page
on your module website. The Assessment Handbook details University assessment policy and
procedures, and you will need to refer to it from time-to-time, so it would be a good idea to bookmark
This guide sets out the principles that apply to assessment on TM111 Introduction to computing and
information technology 1.
Types of assessment
There are two types of assessment at the Open University: formative assessment and summative
assessment. Both types are important for learning.
Formative assessment is designed to help you consolidate your knowledge, understanding and skills and
to help you reflect on your progress. It does not contribute towards your final grade on your module or
qualification, so it would be easy to think that because of this it can be ignored. However, completing
the formative assessments is essential to your development as a learner and will assist you in the
assessments which do count towards your final grade.
Formative assessment exists in many forms in the module materials, such as exploratory activities, selfassessment activities, programming exercises and quizzes. These may be found in both the printed and
the online materials. You are encouraged to send a practice assignment, TMA 00, using the eTMA
system at the start of the module.
In contrast, summative assessment does contribute to the overall grade for your module. Just like
formative assessment, summative assessment can take several forms. TM111 uses continuous
assessment. There is no examination or end-of-module assessment.
There are two forms of continuous assessment:
•tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
•interactive computer-marked assignments (iCMAs).
Typically, continuous assessment is used to assess your understanding of the most recently studied
section of a module. There are three TMAs and three iCMAs for you to complete. The marks for all these
assignments count towards your final grade for this module.
As their name suggests, iCMAs are marked by a computer. These are usually short questions. You
submit your answers via the module website. Usually, you are allowed more than one attempt in
iCMA questions for TM111. It is important to remember to click the ‘submit’ button in order for the
iCMA to be marked. Your overall mark will become available shortly after the submission date. You
will find further information about iCMAs in the Computing Guide.
Your first iCMA occurs in Week 3 of the module, so this will give you an opportunity to check your
progress at an early stage of the module and you should gain some marks towards your final score
at the end of the module.
This section looks at how to tackle different types of TMA on TM111. For this module, the TMAs
generally consist of short pieces of written work; practical work, such as producing a website and
programming; and, later in the module, some numerical calculations. This may sound rather
daunting, but the assessment is designed to build up your skills gradually, enable you to get
feedback from your tutor, and help you gain confidence in your work.
It may sound obvious, but the first thing to do when attempting a TMA is to read the questions
thoroughly. Read the questions several times and make sure you understand what each question is
asking you to do. If you are unsure about something, do contact your tutor, who will be able to help
you – but without giving you the answer, of course.
Do not include extra material such as the question text or journal articles in your answer unless
You will need to complete your TMAs in relatively formal English and use grammatically correct
language. You should avoid the following:
slang or informal language – such as ‘kids’ instead of ‘children’
offensive language or swearing
text-speak – such as ‘u’ instead of ‘you’.
If you have any doubt about your ability to write in academic English, you may find it helpful to work
through The Open University’s online resource Developing academic English (this is part of 'Core
skills' in the 'Study skills' section of the Help Centre at StudentHome. There are links to other skills
materials on the ‘Resources’ page on your module website. You will also be helped to develop your
writing skills as you progress through your studies.
The final version of your work should be spell-checked. It’s a good idea to ensure that your wordprocessing software is set up to check spelling in UK English, rather than US English.
Word counts and marks
You will sometimes find that TMAs have suggestions for the number of words to use when
answering a particular question. These word counts are provided as a guideline for the expected
length of your answer and are designed to help you. If you write far fewer words than suggested, you
may be missing important points from your answer; if you write many more, you are likely to be
including irrelevant information. In each of the above situations, you may risk losing marks.
TMA questions will always state the maximum marks that could be awarded for the question and its
parts. Use this information about marks as a guide to how much to write. For example, if part of a
TMA question is worth only two marks, you will not be expected to write a whole page of content or
draw a detailed diagram. However, if part of a question is worth 10 marks, then a more detailed
answer will be expected.
It is important when writing answers to numerical questions that you present your work in a logical
way and that you state very clearly the steps in your calculations. Simply writing down a few
numbers and an answer does not demonstrate to your tutor that you understand the method used in
a particular calculation. It also makes it very difficult for your tutor to correct errors if they cannot see
clearly what steps you have taken to arrive at your answer.
Use one line for each stage of the calculation and include brackets and equals signs to make your
meaning clear. There are many examples in the module materials, and you can find more help in the
Using numbers booklet.
Before you submit a TMA
When preparing your assignment, you should take care in the construction, layout and clarity of your
answers. This will aid your tutor, but more importantly it should help you to formulate a better
answer. Some specific guidelines are as follows:
your answers should have a clear structure, with separate section headings where
your answers should be written in a clear and concise style
if a question requires a numerical answer, all the steps in your mathematical
reasoning should be written out clearly and logically so that your tutor can follow your
line of thought
your answers must be legible.
All TMAs for TM111 Introduction to computing and information technology 1 must be submitted
electronically via the University’s online TMA/EMA service, and detailed instructions on how to
submit are given at StudentHome. Once your TMA has been marked, you will be able to collect it
from StudentHome and see the feedback and mark given by your tutor.
Using the feedback from your
Your tutor will mark your TMAs to assess your progress and how well you are learning from the
module material. Your tutor will provide detailed comments and advice on your assignment. They will
also comment on how well you have communicated and presented your ideas. You will receive a
cover page your marks and a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of your assignment.
Feedback from your tutor will guide you for future assignments and address any misunderstandings
so they aren't repeated in other assignments. Think about what your tutor has said and then bear
these points in mind when you come to complete your next assignment. It is worthwhile reading over
your tutor’s comments on your last TMA immediately before you tackle the next one.
If you are disappointed in your overall grade, try not to be discouraged. Leave it for a couple of days,
then reread your assignment and your tutor’s comments. Remember that making mistakes is part of
learning. It may not feel like it at the time, but the feedback we get from making mistakes is a
powerful learning experience in itself.
What to submit for TMAs
Most of your work for your TMAs will be submitted in a word-processor document. However, you will
be asked to include other types of files for some TMA answers – for example screenshots, audio
files and OUBuild programs.
File formats for assignments
Your written answers to each TM111 assignment should be sent in a single, word-processed
document. Do not submit answers to each question in separate documents because it makes them
harder to mark.
The University requires you to submit in a file format that is compatible with Microsoft Word. This
means a file with a file extension of .doc, .docx or .rtf. If you use OpenOffice or LibreOffice, you need
to use ‘Save As’ and choose Word 97/2000/XP (.doc) or Word 2007/2010 XML (.docx) as the file
type. Similarly, any spreadsheet documents you submit must be in Microsoft Excel’s .xls or .xlsx
format. You will find further information on document formats in the Help Centre.
In Block 1 you will be using Audacity, the sound editor application, as part of your study. You may be
asked to embed an Audacity audio file in your TMA document. Alternatively, you can compress (zip)
the Audacity file with your other TMA files.
In Block 2 you will be using OUBuild, the programming environment. You will be asked to submit
program files for OUBuild as part of TMA 02. These files should be in .sb2 format. The .sb2 format is
how your projects will be automatically saved by OUBuild.
You will be asked to take screenshots showing your work, and paste them in your TMA document.
You should include only the item or section of the screen that you are asked for, therefore crop or
resize the image as necessary. The screenshot must be clear enough for your tutor to assess your
Instructions for taking screenshots in both Windows and MacOS are in the sidebar.
You will find further information on taking screenshots in the Computing Guide.
Make sure your screen contains the item you want and that the window is active (click on the
window to make sure).
Press the PrintScreen key on your keyboard (or PrtScn on some keyboards). On most keyboards,
this is found to the right of the 'F12' key.
In more recent versions of Windows there is a more sophisticated screenshot-taking program called
You can start the program in two ways:
click on the icon if it is already pinned to your taskbar
either select the Windows Start button or press the Windows key, and type ‘Snipping’
into the Search bar.
Select Snipping Tool. Use Snipping Tool to either take a screenshot of the whole screen or part of it
(like snipping a piece of a page out of a magazine).
Press and hold the triangle next to the New button to select one of the snip types.
Capture your entire screen – essentially the same as using PrtScn.
Click and move your mouse cursor to capture within a free-form shape.
Drag your mouse cursor to capture a rectangular shape.
Select an open window (for example your web browser) to capture just the window
These are three options for creating a screenshot in MacOS:
open the Preview application
go to the File menu and then select Take Screenshot.
You have three options to choose from:
If you prefer, you can use keyboard shortcuts to take the screenshots and rather than 'Preview'.
Use the keyboard shortcuts:
Cmd + Shift + 3: lets you take a screenshot of the entire desktop
Cmd + Shift + 4: lets you select an area of the screen to capture
Cmd + Shift + 4, space bar: lets you capture a window
Cmd + Control + Shift + 3: lets you take a screenshot of the entire screen and save it
to your clipboard to be pasted in elsewhere
Cmd + Control + Shift + 4: lets you can take a screenshot of an area of the screen
and save it to the clipboard
Cmd + Control + Shift + 4, space bar: lets you take a screenshot of a window and
save it to the clipboard.
You will find your screenshot saved as a PNG file on your desktop.
You will find Grab in the Utilities folder in Applications. In the Capture menu, you can choose to
or even a timed screen.
You may then save the screenshot or copy it and paste it directly into your word-processor
Your screenshots will automatically open in 'Preview', where they can be edited and saved. To edit
your screenshot you will need the Markup Toolbar in Preview, View > Show Markup Toolbar.
You will need to submit more than one file for your answer to some TMAs (for example a .doc file
and some .sb2 files). As the TMA system will accept only a single file, the files must be put into one
folder and compressed together into a single .zip file.
You must use .zip for your compressed file format. If you are using WinZip, you must select the
‘legacy’ zip format and not use its new .zipx format. Other formats, such as .rar should not be used.
There is further information on zipping files in the Help Centre. There are several pages in the
Computing Guide. to explain more about zip files.
Assessments should be completed using the materials provided as part of the module, together with
other sources of information as directed throughout the module. You may also choose to look other
sources of information (for example reference books or the internet) for additional relevant
information when completing an assessment. Very short extracts from published sources may be
included in context, but you should avoid copying significant amounts of text. You should note that
while the internet can provide lots of information, much of it is not reviewed by experts and should be
treated with caution.
If you take material from the module or elsewhere and incorporate it in your answer word-for-word,
you must indicate where you have taken it from. Not to do so is termed ‘plagiarism’ and is regarded
as an infringement of copyright. To attempt to pass off such work as your own is cheating. You must
therefore acknowledge all your sources of information.
For more information about what constitutes plagiarism or cheating, you should refer to the
current Assessment Handbook. For study skills, support on writing in your own words and
appropriate referencing, try the Study skills website and/or ask your tutor. (The Study skills website
can also be accessed at StudentHome and the ‘Resources’ page on the module website.)
You should be aware that submitted assignments are examined using a range of plagiarism
Purchase answer to see full