Radley College, an independent boarding school based in Oxfordshire, emphasises independent learning and project-based study as a way to prepare students for their next step into higher education. With nearly 700 students, the College aims to foster a strong sense of community, whilst also ensuring that each student is taught in a way that is right for their individual learning.
To support this initiative, Radley College has recently introduced the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) to over a hundred of their Year 12 students.
First introduced in the UK in 2008, the EPQ is equivalent to half an A Level and takes the form of an individual, in-depth written project, designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their research and writing skills.
Using Turnitin to support individual learning
Kevin Mosedale, Head of Curriculum Extension at Radley College, oversees the EPQ programme for Sixth Form students. With original writing such a vital part of the EPQ, Kevin and his colleagues began exploring how academic integrity could be developed and upheld at every stage of the students’ learning.
“At Radley College, we focus on ensuring that every student is given the opportunity to develop and achieve their very best,” Kevin says. “When it comes to written work - especially for such an important submission like the EPQ - we need to be certain that our students understand what originality and integrity means.”
For the EPQ, students must demonstrate that they understand how to correctly reference in their work, as well as write in their own words.
To help support this objective, Kevin oversaw the implementation of Turnitin at the College. First introduced to staff and students in September 2016 via a training programme of short screencasts and masterclasses, students now submit their project work online for originality checking and feedback.
“Turnitin has been highly effective in supporting our students’ understanding of academic integrity. The Originality Report, for example, allows students to truly value the role of original writing in project work.”
Academic staff at Radley College also found Turnitin to be a useful tool in supporting students to meet submission deadlines.
“One of the first things we as teachers discovered when implementing Turnitin is that when students submit online, they take it much more seriously. It’s clear to both the student and the teacher when they’ve not met the deadline or submitted at all, so provides students with an incentive to submit their work in time.
“Meeting deadlines is an important academic practice that will help prepare them for higher education.”
Developing confidence in online assessment
For students, who are largely used to new software and apps, introducing online submission was a logical step. Kevin and his colleagues also had to ensure that teaching staff felt just as comfortable using learning technology.
“Introducing a new technology to a whole institution can be slightly nerve-wracking. But in fact, introducing and training our teachers to use Turnitin proved to be very easy.”
As with all schools, teaching staff were pressed for time, and wanted to be trained in using Turnitin quickly and efficiently. To meet this challenge, as well as help his teaching colleagues to understand exactly how Turnitin supports learning, Kevin embarked on an innovative, multimedia training programme:
“By creating short, easy-to-digest screencasts, showing teachers and students exactly what Turnitin was and how they could use it, we shared our knowledge across the College in a time-saving and engaging way.”
“We found these screencasts to be a highly effective way of introducing Turnitin and communicating to staff and students exactly how it can be used to enhance learning.”
As a result, teaching staff at the College soon saw the value of Turnitin, particularly features such as the Originality Report.
“As teachers, we take the lead in demonstrating to our students what the Originality Report means, how to interpret it and how it will support their learning,” Kevin - who also actively teaches within the College - says.
“On an individual level, we can work with each student to go through their Originality Report and show them where they can make improvements. This is very helpful in the teaching and learning process.”
Looking to the future
Now that the College is approaching the end of its first academic year using Turnitin, Kevin is optimistic about their future strategy for technology enhanced learning:
“The implementation of Turnitin has been very positively received by teachers and students,” he concludes.
“We’ve been very encouraged by what we’ve been able to do with Turnitin at the College, not just in regards to upholding originality, but also in communicating to the students exactly what good writing practice really looks like.”
Learn more about Radley College at http://www.radley.org.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