Peer assessment using Turnitin

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In this case study, University Teaching Fellow and Director for Teaching and Learning in the School of Education and Professional Development Dr Liz Bennett writes about using the PeerMark tool available in Turnitin to develop a peer review activity as part of a module on Action Research for Teaching and Learning.

Why did you decide to try this out?

The main driver for the activity has been to help the student to understand the assessment and the assessment criteria for their assignment. The process is that students provide feedback on a draft assignment of another student’s work and through this process develop this understanding along with their critical and evaluative skills. The students doing the peer reviews do so anonymously although given the nature of the assignment and the relatively small class (36 students) they may well be able to guess whose work they are reading.

Peer assessment is something that we, as academics are familiar with as part of the peer review process. Hence I pitch this as an authentic academic activity. I used it earlier in my career whilst at the Open University, when I designed peer review activities for large scale online course, but it has been made easier through Turnitin’s PeerMark tool.

Turnitin is a service that is provided via Unilearn for checking students’ work for its originality score. It is also extensively used for providing feedback on their work through the GradeMark tool. The third part of Turnitin is the PeerMark tool. The instructions for setting up a PeerMark is available from the Turnitin instructor guides.

What were the benefits and challenges for you?

The benefit to me has been that students learn a lot from the exercise by reading what other people have done about what the assignment is asking of them. I was also delighted with their feedback (see below) and especially the comment about feeling more confident and no longer needing to meet with me.

However, I still gave the group draft feedback, so it didn’t eliminate this task. Setting up the tool is straightforward and the Instructor manual is clear on how to do this.

Student feedback on using PeerMark

Student A: It was really helpful, and yes I would recommend it to other students.

Student B: Just done my two it was a good process, after reading the first one I was slightly worried that it was just about a finished piece of work and I started feeling sorry for who had to read mine, as it was probably draft 2 with small gaps, the second one was good to read as it was probably in the same place as my submission. So I think clarity somewhere on the assignment were the author feels that they are up, i.e 1st draft or nearly completed,  I could have spent the rest of the day depressed if I had not read someone else’s as well. Useful process as it reassured that I was on the same playing field as everyone else, not sure how useful my comments will be but I think reading a couple of others helps you to develop your own piece and definitely strengthen mine from reading the other two

Student C: Reading a couple of others students papers I to need to untangle my Literature review from the actually results

Student D: … However some people may not want to share their work due to lack of confidence

Student E: I am now unable to meet with you as I have been called into a planning meeting. However after looking at the peer review exercise I am confident that this will help me with the areas I need to develop.

What’s next? I’m hoping to share this exercise with other modules on the MA Education programme.

Further reading: University of Edinburgh has used PeerMark with large cohorts of students

Posted by Kathrine Jensen (@kshjensen), Research Assistant, Teaching and Learning Institute

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Supporting and connecting colleagues to develop inspiring and innovative teaching and learning
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