Like so many universities, the traditional method of assessment at Buckinghamshire New University consisted of a student completing their work, printing a hard copy, hand delivering to the University, the University receipting the work, allocating work to a tutor, who would then take the work home, assess it and then return it to the student. Making for a very physical and resource-heavy process on an already stretched staff.
In addition, students now live in an increasingly digital world and the feeling at the University was that students were not engaging with their hard copy feedback as fully as they would if it were electronic.
So, how could the team at Buckinghamshire New University save resources, save time as well as help students engage with the learning process?
Steve Hoole, E-Learning Services Manager and his team at Buckinghamshire New University have been working hard to improve the learning experience for students as well as the process of assessment management for teaching staff through making the most of new technology.
“We realised that the majority of our tutors don’t actually mark while they’re sat in the office. They need some quiet so they go and assess work at home, or when they are travelling’. “We wanted to have a fully integrated system that would allow students to submit online, for us to mark online and for the feedback to get back to the students efficiently online to help them to develop their evidence based writing.”
Initially, Turnitin’s OriginalityCheck® allowed students to submit work online and receive digital confirmation that their work has been received by the University. Instructors then receive a clear, concise Originality report revealing colour-coded sources that correspond to matching passages in the student paper, so that matches can be quickly evaluated.
Turnitin then enables the University to manage the entire assessment process electronically by empowering instructors to assess student work in a virtual world, either on their desktop computers, laptops, iPads or on any computer with an internet connection.
Within Turnitin, QuickMarks give instructors the ability to drag and drop standard or customised comments directly onto the student’s paper or even leave voice comments. Rubrics provide students with guidance on marking scales and promote consistency.
Steve and his team were keen to make the most out of Turnitin, so implemented an innovative approach to incentivise staff to use the iPad App for off-line marking by providing them with an iPad after undertaking 6 hours of CPD training.
Instructor Piers Worth said: “The Turnitin app, plus its interface via the iPad has simplified the pressures on me and given me a flexibility in working that has made a massive difference. For example, being able to attend an international conference, present and then sit in my hotel room and mark would have been impossible without Turnitin.”
The changes at Buckinghamshire New University have had a wide ranging impact throughout the University with students able to access their feedback wherever and whenever they need, teaching staff able to assess work quickly and flexibly and the University itself benefitting from a more efficient and effective process for both parties.
“Using the iPad with Turnitin to do my marking revolutionised it as a process. No longer stuck with having to be on wifi, I could mark anywhere and thanks to the iPad immediately. Using my finger to drop in comments and quickly getting used to the smaller keyboard reduced my marking time significantly. The ability to scroll quickly using my fingers on the touch screen was also a great bonus. I also recorded audio feedback for overseas students, so that in addition to the written feedback and summary comments, they could connect directly with my comments aurally. It fostered engagement and feelings of individual attention.” - Linsey Taylor, Instructor
The use of printers and the need for paper has dropped dramatically for assessments, while instructors’ ability to assess flexibly around their busy schedules has meant that assessment speed has increased, so students now get feedback faster.
The scheme is only in its first year but early results look promising. Recent NSS results show that levels of satisfaction with assessment and feedback are up 7% including promptness of feedback. It’s no coincidence that the hard work of academic staff and their use of Turnitin have had a really positive impact.
“We’ve seen a dramatic update in e-submission across the University. Student expectations are being met over prompt return of quality feedback and this has been helped by staff use of the Turnitin iPad app. Audio comments have been particularly well received.
It’s hoped that the training the staff have received will enable them to take their devices into the classroom and assess live presentations as they become more confident with the technology. The next step for the University will be to work closely with Turnitin on the next generation of the software."