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University of Reading
Reading, UK

Background

First founded in the nineteenth century as an extension College of the University of Oxford, the University of Reading - located in Berkshire, UK - was awarded its Royal Charter in 1926. With campuses in both Reading and Malaysia, the University is now home to 17,000 students from over 150 countries.

Offering a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in subject areas from science and business to languages, humanities and arts, the University of Reading is one of the UK’s leading research-led higher education institutions.

The challenge

In 2013, the University of Reading set out its Technology Enhanced Learning Vision. Emphasising the University’s commitment to “produce graduates with sound academic knowledge and essential skills”, this Vision pointed to the role of technology-enhanced learning methods to prepare graduates with the academic knowledge and vital skills needed for their next step, whether that be the world of work or further study.

As a result, the University of Reading has been focused on making more effective use of technology in learning, exploring how tools such as Turnitin could support the Technology Enhanced Learning Vision. In 2015, a shift in University policy mandated that online submission be made wherever possible. To support this policy, electronic feedback has been strongly encouraged.

For the Technology Enhanced Learning team at the University, this posed a challenge: how could hundreds of academic staff be successfully introduced to online assessment, and how could they be supported to get the most value from learning technology?

The move to online submission and feedback

To support institution-wide online submission and assessment, the University of Reading launched the Electronic Management of Assessment (EMA) Programme in January 2017.

The EMA Programme has been developed to deliver a long-term vision for online assessment within the University that meets the following three core objectives:

  1. To enable a consistently good student assessment experience, bringing process and pedagogy together to promote effective student learning.
  2. To provide a supported assessment experience for staff that focuses on the effective use of staff time.
  3. To reduce the administrative burden of assessment, focusing on the provision of technical solutions to ease staff workloads.

Andy Turner, Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) Applications Manager, is part of the team at the University that has been tasked with reviewing and implementing learning technologies to meet the objectives of the EMA Programme. For Turner, making the switch to Turnitin Feedback Studio in the Summer of 2016 has helped his team to encourage and support staff and students submitting and marking work online.

“Our students are now submitting work online wherever practical, and academic staff are supported and encouraged to provide their feedback online too,” says Turner. “The University’s move towards greater use of electronic assessment means that academics are now using tools like Feedback Studio to mark work and provide feedback."

Making the switch to Turnitin Feedback Studio

The University of Reading has been using Turnitin since 2012, and is well-known within the learning technology community for its engagement with online submission and assessment. So when Feedback Studio was launched in the Spring of 2016, Turner says it was an easy decision for his team to begin trying out the new interface:

“We started testing out Feedback Studio as soon as it became available in April 2016. This involved holding TEL practitioners forums, introducing our learning technologists to the new interface and guiding them through the new features.”

During this introduction period, Turner and his team also ensured the internal guidance they provide to staff and students - which provides an overview of how to use the learning management systems within the University, including Turnitin - were updated.

Turner reports that these updates were made simple using Turnitin’s Feedback Studio Success Kit, which provides email templates, video demonstrations and detailed guidance on how to implement Feedback Studio amongst staff and students.

“By mid-August, we had made Feedback Studio the default platform across the University. If staff or students had a query, we would simply direct them to Turnitin’s own Guides,” Turner says, meaning that he and his team could save valuable time. “Staff and students found these very useful - especially the video walkthroughs. It gave them the confidence to use online marking and submission with ease.”

Staff were also encouraged to get to grips with the full range of features Turnitin Feedback Studio has to offer; the TEL team launched e-learning courses for instructors to practise using the new interface, particularly on how to provide effective feedback to students.

The internal e-learning courses have proved to be very popular, with the TEL team now hosting lunchtime sessions on a range of learning technology themes. For example, teaching staff are invited to academic app showcases, sessions in which they are encouraged to share which apps they are using in their teaching. The high level of attendance at these sessions suggests an increased interest and confidence in learning technology amongst teachers.

Strategic success

Implementing Feedback Studio has been an integral part of the success of Reading’s EMA Programme, due to the support it provides to both staff and students during the submission and marking process.

“The three objectives of our EMA Programme are to create a consistently good electronic submission experience for the students, to use marking time more effectively, and reduce the administrative burden across the University,” says Turner. “Tools like Feedback Studio are very helpful in supporting us to meet these objectives.”

Transforming marking

Turner adds that the Feedback Studio interface is “very intuitive” and “Twenty first century”, making adoption simple and straightforward for staff and students. The additional marking tools have proved to be particularly beneficial in helping academic staff provide effective feedback to their students:

Instructors have largely reported that Feedback Studio has saved them time marking and has provided beneficial in getting detailed feedback back to their students. This feedback, in turn, supports formative learning, therefore helping students to become better writers.

Dr Cindy Becker, Associate Professor and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the Department of English Literature, concurs:

“Feedback Studio has transformed my marking experience. The use of audio comments offers the chance to give feedback to students in detail, but also in a tone and at a pace that gives them a meaningful experience of feedback.”

Students have reported that they too recognise the benefits of Feedback Studio when it comes to accessing their marked submission, helping them to understand the feedback from their instructors and take this on board for their next assignment:

“Students tell me that they enjoy being able to access these voice comments at any time - including on their phones as they walk between classes. This has been a wholly positive revolution in our assessment and feedback protocol.”

Dr Rachel Pye, Lecturer and Director of Teaching and Learning at the School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, echoes her colleague’s view on the value of Feedback Studio:

“I much prefer marking using the new Feedback Studio. I find the access to QuickMarks much more intuitive, as well as the rubrics, and I especially like the ease of linking the two. This helps students trace back from the grades to their text.”

Dr Becker also sees tools such as QuickMarks as vital in providing students with effective feedback:

“The speed with which I can give relevant and detailed feedback to students through QuickMarks has allowed me to focus more of my marking time on offering an overview of my response to the work.”

Tracking progress

As the main Turnitin administrator for the University, Turner has also recently begun using the new Administrator Statistics page. This feature allows him to see the number of submissions, volume of unoriginal student work and the feedback provided by instructors. Having this overview gives him and his team a valuable snapshot of how Turnitin is being used across the University, and the difference it is making, and the progress the University is making in moving towards online submission and assessment.

Turner is clear that the University’s experience of transitioning to Feedback Studio has been positive. “Your staff won’t find it difficult to use,” he advises. “They can do all the same things and more, and it won’t take them long to get to grips with what’s new.”

“The rich feedback tools, such as comment banks, have helped instructors to see the full benefits of the new interface. And of course, the Originality Report is still there, which is a vital part of the marking process.”

Learn more about the University of Reading at https://www.reading.ac.uk and how Turnitin Feedback Studio can help your institution with online submission and assessment at http://turnitin.com/en_us/what-we-offer/feedback-studio

If you’re a customer looking to make the move to Feedback Studio, please contact your Account Manager or see the Turnitin Feedback Studio Success Kit