Leicester School of Biological Sciences

14 September 2010

Manually excluding matches from new Originality Report

Filed under: how_to, turnitin — jobadge @ 2:01 pm

9 February 2010

Case Study: using PeerMarking in Turnitin

Filed under: Blackboard, how_to, turnitin — Tags: , , , — jobadge @ 3:04 pm

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

Peermarking in Turnitin

Filed under: Blackboard, how_to, news, turnitin — Tags: , , , — jobadge @ 1:00 pm

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.

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.

19 January 2010

PeerMark in Turnitin

Filed under: Blackboard, how_to, news, turnitin — Tags: , — jobadge @ 2:59 pm

Peermark is a system within Turnitin that enables you to distribute student submitted work back amongst the cohort for peer review. The students review work already submitted to an existing (or newly created) Turnitin assignment.


1. Allows anonymous peermarking using a set of questions set by the instructor. The questions can be rating (is this paper good/poor) on scale of 1-5, open text answers.

2. Good control over the distribution of the work amongst students. You can set how many scripts each student reviews. These can be randomly assigned by the system, chosen by the student. You can pre-assign students in pairs or exclude students from the process altogether.

3. Instructors can write a review of the student work themselves and comment on the reviews the students have undertaken.

4. Students can see reviews written by others on their work easily

5. Students can download reviews of their work.


1. As we re-use our courses year on year in the Biological Sciences undergraduate courses, the links to the peermark assignments will be lost at the end of each year

2. I can see no way to keep any of this work ‘offline’ after the fact (easily) for staff/ QA/ External examiners

If you would like to use Peermark please feel free to get in touch with me.

Demonstration of setting up peermark by Turnitin

26 June 2009

Summer updates to Turnitin

Filed under: Blackboard, news, turnitin — jobadge @ 8:02 am

Several updates are coming to Turnitin this summer. I’ve highlighted some of them below:

Global exclusion Bibliographic materialTIIbibliography

Default setting for all new assignments will be to exclude bibliographic and quoted material from the Similiarity Index

Currently, within an individual originality report, instructors must choose to exclude bibliographic and quoted material. When this new feature launches, instructors will be able to indicate their preferences at the assignment level. The default for all newly created assignments will be for this content to be excluded. (Originality reports generated prior to the feature’s launch will remain unaffected; whatever exclusion preference was set for each individual original report pre-launch will remain post-launch). This assignment-level preference can be changed up until the first paper has been submitted. In all instances, as currently, an instructor can view an originality report and change the individual paper’s settings to include or exclude bibliographic and quoted material.

Optional Exclusion of Small Matches in the Originality Report

Instructors may choose to indicate that the similarity index for every originality report for an assignment should exclude matches equal to or less than a certain percent (1% – 100%).  The default setting is that ALL matches are shown.

The size of matches that have been excluded (if any) is clearly indicated on each originality report. Instructors can adjust the size of matches to exclude while viewing each originality report and those adjustments are immediately reflected in the originality report.

Instructors may sometimes find limited value in seeing large numbers of small percentage matches for an assignment. Now instructors have the flexibility to choose what level matches should be included in the computation of the similarity index and highlighted in the originality report.  This flexibility provides instructors with an additional degree of control in evaluating student assignments.

Improved Handling of Document Submissions and Multiple File Uploads

New productivity and usability enhancements for submissions that:
•    Double the size limits for individual file submissions (from 10MB to 20MB) as well as zip file (batch) uploads (from 100MB to 200MB).
•    Improve user notification for submissions that exceed the maximum sizes (and guidance to help fix the issue);
•    Streamline the process for uploading zipped files of multiple documents.

Currently, instructors must repetitively select and tag each document (author name, email, paper title) for upload. Now instructors will select multiple files and conveniently enter document information into a table.

15 June 2009

Changes to Blackboard 9

Filed under: Blackboard, how_to, news, turnitin — Tags: , — jobadge @ 1:00 pm

On 1st August 2009 Blackboard will undergo a major upgrade (from version 7 to 9).

What action do I need to take now?

  • Make sure that you are using Internet Explorer 7 to access Blackboard 9. If you have upgraded to Office 2007 this is part of the upgrade. If you need to access Blackboard from home or a non-cfs PC you will need to upgrade those machines. Office 2007 for home is available from ITS for £17. IE7 is available free to download from Microsoft
  • IE 8, Firefox 3 and Safari 3 are also supported.

What will stay the same?

  • Your courses will be automatically transferred to the new software
  • Jo Badge will still recycle them ready for the new academic year (remove the 2008/9 students and enrol the 2009/10 cohort)
  • You will still be able to use the TurnitinUK system for submitting work for plagiarism scanning. I strongly recommend that you create new TurnitinAssignment items for students to submit work rather than re-use previous links.

What will change?

  • The major change is to the way that you add and edit information on course sites. This now predominantly occurs through in-context menus (i.e. click on an item to change it). The control panel is also accessible from the main course page .
  • Interactive screenshots of an instructor view and edit mode in Blackboard 9
  • Some things will disappear: electronic blackboard, digital drop box, signup list, student homepages.
  • Some things will get better: the gradebook is much enhanced and requires far less clicking to operate

Interactive instructor view

Interactive instructor view

Interactive instructor EDIT view

Interactive instructor EDIT view

What support is available?

  • ITS are providing quick overviews of the changes on: Tuesday 23rd June: 11am – 12pm and Monday 7th September: 2pm – 3pm (Book via staffdev@le.ac.uk )
  • Jo Badge will be running an overview of the changes that affect academic and support staff in the School in the week beginning 14 September 2009. Location and further details will be announced soon.
  • A meeting with MSc convenors has already been arranged for 25 June to take account of the MSc’s earlier start in the academic year.

More information on the upgrade is available from ITS

31 March 2009

Anonymous marking in Turnitin

Filed under: Blackboard, how_to, turnitin — jobadge @ 10:31 am

The TurnitinUK plagiarism detection service has now released an anonymous marking option.

When you add a new Turnitin Assignment there is now a new screen with the usual options of setting the assignment’s title and start date etc. but at the bottom of the screen there is a “more options” link. Within “more options” is a new feature: “Enable anonymous marking?”. If this option is switched on then course instructors will not see any student names in the TurnitinUK system until after the post-date (which is set when the assignment is set-up).

17 April 2008

Improvements to Turnitin database – more peer review journals added

Filed under: Blackboard, turnitin — Tags: — jobadge @ 10:52 am

iParadigms have been working with CrossRef to provide a service to academic publishers to help verify the originality of academic content. Originally piloted last year and now fully adopted, the service provided to publishers will be called CrossCheck (based on iThenticate, TII’s not student/class based sister product).

The content which is already part of the iThenticate database will become part of TII in June this year. Currently CrossCheck has the following members that have provided content;

* Association for Computing Machinery
* BMJ Publishing Group Ltd.
* Elsevier
* Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
* IUCr
* The New England Journal of Medicine
* Taylor & Francis and
* Wiley-Blackwell

However as CrossRef have 500+ members it is expected that this list will grow rapidly (from Will Murray, Northumbria Learning)

15 April 2008

Can I re-use a Turnitin assignment from last year?

Filed under: how_to, turnitin — Tags: , , , — jobadge @ 8:39 pm

Turnitin assignments can be re-used from year to year. All assignments are recycled at the end of the previous academic year and the student attempts and submissions removed.

Click on ‘modify’ next to the assignment and change the dates for the new deadline for the current year. Don’t forget to update the deadline in the text box as well. You will need to refresh the list of students by using ‘roster sync’ to list them all in the Turnitin Assignment inbox. This means you will be able to see which students have not submitted thier work.

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