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.
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.
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
This short movie will demonstrate how to set up an assignment in Blackboard and view the results.
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.
* Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
* The New England Journal of Medicine
* Taylor & Francis and
However as CrossRef have 500+ members it is expected that this list will grow rapidly (from Will Murray, Northumbria Learning)
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.