Turnitin UK: looking for clarity

Turnitin UK  is holding a regional users meeting at St James Park in Newcastle on Tuesday 20  October  and in London on 23 October. I will be attending the Newcastle event with a special interest as Blackboard integration user. the programme is outlined at the end of this post.

In preparation , I have looked at our usage figures over the last 3 years and it supports my view that Turnitin has really to focus on not just the similarity checking but more so  on its assessment and feedback tools. The table below outlines the annual percentage increase by category. with submissions linking to the similarity checker. The main change in our use has been GradeMark.indicating the shift towards the more advanced feedback features

Annual percentage increase in use Turnitin at GCU
Submissions GradeMark
12/13 -13/14 6.90% 170.00%
13/14 -14/15 13.70% 54.13%

I’m still not convinced that Turnitin realises the extent to which its service has moved beyond a student e-submission and similarity scoring. While these are important features, the company needs to demonstrate that it is aware of the increasing dependence markers and graders have on both its reliability and functionality in its post -submission offering. There is also the use of grading and the storage of results in Blackboard’s Gradecentre. which has also shown a significant increase in use.

At GCU we are about to embark on a more complex and sophisticated trial of marks integration between our learning and teaching vle and student records and I’ll return to this topic shortly

So tomorrow .it’s the early train to Tyneside looking for more detailed information on Turnitin’s roadmap. with a special interest in the forthcoming integration options. At this time of year,  there may be an additional barrier to clarity at Newcastle.



10:30 – 11:00               Arrival: Refreshments and Registration

11:00 – 11:15               Welcome: Will Murray, CPO

11:15 – 12:00               Roadmap and Q&A Parallel Sessions:


Breakout sessions:      Annika Vaid: Web users

Gary Finnigan:  Blackboard

Caroline Westgarth: Moodle users

Jess Wells: Other Integration users


12:00 – 12:30               Company Update: Will Murray, CPO

12:30 – 13:30               Lunch – Magpie Suite

13:30 – 14:15               Turnitin Next: Will Murray, CPO

14:15 – 15:00               Revision Assistant and Scoring Engine: Will Murray, CPO

15:00 – 16:00               Q&A: Product & Integrations Panel

16:00 – 17:00               Refreshments and Networking with Users and Turnitin Staff – Bobby Robson Room, Level 3

17:00                           Close



To rubric or not to rubric? summary from October’s Coffee Club discussion


“To rubric or not to rubric” that was the question framing the discussion at our latest Blended Learning Coffee Club meeting. Ken Garner and Catriona Miller, GSBS, led the discussions illustrating their uses of not only rubrics but GradeMark, QuickMarks and Grading Forms in Turnitin.

Both Ken and Catriona use QuickMarks functionality of GradeMark regularly when marking assessments. Having a standard set of comments saves time and provides consistency of feedback. There is also the added flexibility of adding and personalising comments. Creating sets of QuickMarks does of course take some time, but there are a set of comments provided within Turnitin which can help to get you started.  You can also share comments with others, and comments can be re-purposed and tweaked as you get more familiar with the process and of course the assignments you are marking.  Both agreed that for team taught modules, use of GradeMark has been a “revelation”.

Ken gave another excellent overview of how he creates and uses rubrics (there is a more detailed post from his presentation during our September meet-ups).  Again it does take time to create a rubric, but the operational benefits it provides are compelling. It allows greater consistency and transparency of marking for staff and students alike. If you use a rubric, it is included in the student download option of marked work.  For programmes with lots of assignments such as journalism, the use of rubrics does speed up the marking process considerably. It also cuts down on the need for marking meetings, as module leaders can not only see that work is being marked, but can also easily review marks if there are any issues.

Whilst appreciating the value of rubrics, Catriona tends to use the Grading Form more for a number of her modules.  She finds that by using the criteria functionality and linking her comments to criteria she can give equally valuable feedback, but has a greater degree of flexibility in terms of awarding a final mark.  Catriona also uses the audio feedback feature to give personalised, short (max. 3 minutes) audio feedback to students, as well as the more detailed comments.

As Catriona said, using rubrics or the grading form is pretty much horses for courses. There is no right or wrong way. It all comes down to your own context and academic judgement.  However, if you are using Turnitin, you do have make a choice between the two – you can’t use both in an assignment.

Once again a really stimulating session, so thanks to Catriona and Ken and everyone who attended.