Leicester School of Biological Sciences

21 January 2010

Grademark: still not what we want

Filed under: Blackboard, how_to, turnitin — Tags: , , , — jobadge @ 11:54 am

Whilst looking at the new features on Turnitin that were added this January, I took another look at Grademark. On the face of it, this online marking system within Turnitin is an ideal candidate for us to use for electronic marking. It does many of the things we would want:

  • easy online mark up as text, highlights or symbols (tick/ cross/ speech bubble)
  • pop up or sticky comments
  • clipboard to keep comments for re-use
  • sharable library of comments and quickmark grammar listing/ common errors
  • rubric card, available in grade, criteria or percentage marks for marking to learning outcomes
  • general overall comments
  • timed release for return of the reports to students
  • integration with the Blackboard gradebook

However, the main issue I still have with grademark is the lack of ability to download the grademark reports. Students can print off a copy, which is laid out in a useful format (general comments, a numbered comment list and highlights marked up on their text), but they cannot save the electronic version (as far as I can see). From the staff view, there is no bulk download facility of the marked reports for offline storage. This poses two problems for us, first, we do not work on a cohort system, so our students have access to their blackboard modules for the current year only. This means that they will not have access in the third year to work they did in the second year. Second, we cannot keep offline copies for quality assurance, back up or any other purpose. External examiners would not be able to view the reports without a dedicated blackboard account created for them.

So, whilst this may be used by some of our taught postgraduate courses, that last for 12 months only, I cannot see many of our staff making us of it on the undergraduate courses. It’s a shame, as it is a nice tool and I have a feeling that the students would like it and it would improve our feedback systems substantially.


  1. I agree with the issues you have mentioned with Grade Mark and would like to add a couple of my own and also add a couple of solutions to some of the issues.
    It is possible to configure the plugin if you are using the Moodle system (as we do at Lboro, not sure about Blackboard) to store all the submitted files. This can be done automatically but does pose storage issues.
    Another issue with the system is second marking and adding comments. Only one person can work on the script at one time and there is one ‘master’ copy this means any comments which students will see at the end of the process need to be agreed before they are put on the system. This makes the process difficult to manage for admin and academic staff especially with regard to external examiners. This problem can be overcome by making sure a procedure is agreed before hand for the marking process.
    Often acadmics work in isolation when marking and reading on screen all of the time can cause problems with repetitive strain and eye sight. This can be some what counter acted by making sure their monitor has a filter that takes away some of the brightness (I have found setting the monitor to low brightness just causes frustration, so filter on top just for marking is the most effective method).

    Comment by Sandra Huskinson — 1 March 2011 @ 12:25 pm

    • Thanks Sandra – useful stuff. Of course, this post was about the old verison of GradeMark. It has changed quite a bit since i wrote this. Have you seen Cath Ellis’ work on it? See http://wp.me/pgFgH-ap

      Comment by jobadge — 1 March 2011 @ 12:41 pm

  2. […] my long experience with Turnitin, I’ve dabbled in the previous version of Grademark which is the online marking system bundled with the plagiarism detection system. We dismissed it […]

    Pingback by Marking student work eletronically, where is the product we want? « DrBadgr — 15 March 2011 @ 9:28 am

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