Turnitin Assignments work best when a new one is made for each year and each peice of work that needs to be submitted. Re-using assignments from previous years can cause problems with re-sit students not being able to submit work and the links to the submitted assignments can break.
Setting up a new assignment is straightforward. Follow the instructions on the Turnitin UK support site.
Under ‘more options’ add the following standard text as the ‘special instructions’ (this includes some HTML code to insert line breaks and improve the layout).
The DEADLINE for submission is TIME, DAY, DATE, YEAR.<br>
If you believe you have unintentionally submitted an incomplete or incorrect file then you should contact the convenor AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.<br>
IMPORTANT NOTE CONCERNING PLAGIARISM <br>
By submitting your work using this link you are declaring: “I confirm that I understand the University’s regulations regarding plagiarism and that this is my own work. It has not been copied from any other person’s work (published or unpublished), and has not previously been submitted for assessment.”
other settings in ‘more options’ can generally be left at the default, but please make sure you select the option for students NOT to view the originality report.
To hide a previous assignment, click ‘MODIFY’ next to the assignment, then ‘ADAPTIVE RELEASE’ and choose a date after which the assignment will not be displayed. Blackboard may protest, but you can ignore this.
Dr Richard Badge has used a formative assignment with his MSc Bioinformatics students over the last two years. The aim of the exercise is to help the students improve their writing and use citation and referencing correctly. The course combines molecular biology and programming, so the students need to be adaptable and able to write well to succeed on the molecular biology section of the course. Many are from overseas and working in English as a second language. The students are taught face to face in a lab with networking and use laptops provided by the course for their work.
The students submit short answer questions in a single document through blackboard to Turnitin. These are scanned for non-original text. Once the deadline for the piece of work has passed, the students are given a mark scheme, with detailed answers and grades. They use this in conjunction with the PeerMark system to mark another student’s paper. The students make sure that the work they submit is anonymous (no names on the paper itself in headers/titles/ filenames) and the papers are allocated to each student anonymously by the system.
The students work through the piece of work they have to mark in class on their laptops. Dr Badge stated that the formative assessment using PeerMark allowed the students to work through the marking at their own pace, allowing them ask questions of each other and him as they went along. This promoted in depth questions that related to the content of the answers and their interpretation. In previous years, working through the same exercise on paper was much more stilted and didactic.
Overall the PeerMark system offered several advantages over the paper based system:
- work was anonymised and distributed automatically
- students could work at their own pace
- promoted questions about content, understanding and interpretation over technical issues
- allowed all the students to see all the papers submitted once the marking was complete
PeerMark appeared in the January roll out of a major Turnitin update in January 2010. For a change, this new feature works within the Blackboard integration, so I’ve been taking a look at it. Here is a quick video demonstrating one of the assignments I set up.
There is a full demo of the system available on Turnitin’s support website.
If you want to do anonymous or open peer marking with students, this is certainly a good way to do it. It was used on the Bioinformatics MSc last week, which has been written up as a separate case study.
I have some usability issues with the system – it is difficult to preview the assignment to know how exactly it will appear to students. Getting the dates for submission and posting sorted out can be challenging, there are a lot of dependent dates involved and again it isn’t intuitive to know what dates to pick. Overall if you want to do peer marking on work that can be submitted through Turnitin, this is a good option.