Skip to main content

Digital educationUncategorized

Time for (Grade)Marking! – assessment, marking and feedback

4 November 2014

by Dewi Parry

It will soon be coming up to that time of year again (marking time!) and Allan and I are currently working on a Turnitin/Grademark training session due in a couple of weeks, so I thought it would be a good time to write a blog post about Grademark and its features, for those of you who haven’t had a chance to take a look at it yet.

What is Turnitin?

Turnitin was originally a plagiarism detection tool, where essay-style assignments could be uploaded and compared to millions of books, publications, webpages and other student papers (the latest figures can be accessed here).

Traditionally, staff would create assignments in Learning Central, then download the student submissions from Learning Central as a zip file. After logging into Turnitin, you could then upload the zip file submissions in order to carry out plagiarism detection. That process has changed slightly, since students now submit the files themselves, but other than that, this use of Turnitin is still the way that most written assignments are dealt with at Cardiff.

However, over the last few years, Turnitin have added additional tools to the Turnitin suite – GradeMark (an online marking/feedback tool) and PeerMark (a peer marking tool – will need a separate post for this!).

So what is GradeMark?

GradeMark is a part of the Turnitin tools. Think of it as an online tool for marking up a written assignment which allows you to easily provide effective feedback for your students. The main features of GradeMark include:

  • Adding annotated comments to assignments;
  • Highlighting and annotating text within assignments;
  • Creating and using a bank of commonly used (reusable) comments;
  • Providing general (overall) feedback – either written or audio;
  • Addition of a grading rubric (used to lay out your making criteria).

Plus, the ability to do all of this offline, using a Turnitin/Grademark iPad app.

Grademark at Cardiff

But what does having this tool mean in practice, for our students?

A few years ago, the University funded a study to pilot whether the use of electronic feedback through Turnitin GradeMark could improve access, timeliness and quality and consistency of feedback to students. The study was run across three Schools – Medicine, Nursing & Midwifery Studies (now in Healthcare Sciences) and Dentistry. The results were disseminated widely across the University and a paper published in JITE:research. Almost 300 students took part in this study.

What did the study tell us then?

  • Students said that access to their grades and feedback, and timeliness of getting them had improved with this method.
  • 86% of them said it was an effective method for retrieving feedback.
  • Student responses on the quality of received feedback was mixed (and inconclusive).

The study essentially told us that GradeMark can facilitate many assessment processes – delivering assessment, marking, feedback (and more) if it’s used effectively.

But in order to work with GradeMark effectively, it must be embedded holistically within rigorous feedback/feedforward principles, in which the quality of feedback across marking teams is considered and improved, and this means staff development with regards to quality and consistency should be given across markers and marking teams.

It’s worth reiterating again on the technology – whilst it can facilitate improving quality and consistency of feedback, it cannot improve feedback itself.

Having a go

At Cardiff, just shy of 14,000 papers were marked using Grademark during the last academic year. We expect those figures to grow this year, so it’s clear there’s already quite a few people giving it a go. If you want to try using Grademark yourself for your students, we’ve supplied a few resources for you to look at, some technical documents and some related reading:


Related Reading

If you have any questions, please get in touch –

Thanks to ‪@caemmett‪  and @karl_luke for their resources and font-like knowledge in this area!

While writing this blog post, Dewi has been listening to: Nightmares On Wax – A Case Of Funk (1991)