Getting to grips with Grademark and Turnitin: Tools for assessment efficiency and enhancement

This week we had a most excellent learning and teaching forum session from Cath Ellis of Huddersfield University. The focus of the afternoon was on electronic marking using Grademark. I am fairly confident that this idea will be taken up by colleagues since it could:

– Save time as paper scripts are not sent around the university, paper submissions no longer required reducing the administrative burden and in the marking process comment banks deal with repeated errors particularly around grammar and punctuation to save time there.

-Add consistency amongst marking teams in the advice given over common errors.

– Enhance the student experience, allowing them to submit off campus without travel time or receipt queuing and enable privacy when receiving results.

-Allow the tutors own comments to be highly personalised and supportive as their time is not spent on repetitive comments.

– Enable simultaneous marking and plagiarism checking as the tutor’s eye is drawn to areas of similarity (to published work, other submitted assignments) with a coloured overlay provided in Grademark/Turnitin. The tutor can see for example if coloured areas are appropriately referenced. Plagiarism checking becomes more integrated to the assessment process.

-Help the diagnosis of issues in writing style, grammar and punctuation through aggregated reports for groups or individuals to inform the support provided.

Cath’s blog describes some of the subtleties of Grademark use. Also a concise presentation from Solent details the benefits of Grademark and Turnitin particularly from a student perspective.

There is something unequal and opaque about academics having enhancement tools and facilities not open to students and so it is good to see a peer to peer marking facility in Grademark too. Given that teaching staff do not always include peer review in their methods I am not sure that simply having the facility will mean people use it.

As a student At The University of Liverpool it is really useful to have access to these facilities for pro active academic development. Before I submit any work a course requirement is that it must go through Turnitin as a draft. This enables me to see, using the coloured overlay as described above, where I may of displayed poor academic practice (or in the worst case plagiarism). Where the similarity index is high I may see, for example, that my paraphrasing is not sufficiently different from the original or that I have used too many direct quotes. See graphic below for a view of how the similarity overlay looks to a student.

20110716-093038.jpg

The use of a draft submission facility for students along with some support to interpret the reports and an academic development programme to offer knowledge of what good academic practice entails, seems to be a very comprehensive package of support. It equips the student to understand why it is important to address issues of academic development and at the same time offers knowledge and tools to support self-review and self-help. As a student I would now not wish to submit a final copy without the opportunity to self review using the draft facility.

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