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.
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