Joris Buis, MSc
small group of students
First year bachelor students of the Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies (IIS) follow multiple courses on academic writing. In these courses the aim is to improve their general writing skills with regards to elements such as argumentation, structuring of texts, selecting relevant information, refering to sources, and style and spelling.
Teacher of these courses have to give timely feedback to large amounts of written assignments. In practice it seems as though the points of attention of this feedback differs between teachers. Some teachers put accents on style, whereas others largely pay attention to structure or referencing. Also, the proces of providing feedback is time-consuming and in many cases there is a large overlap in feedback between students (e.g. wrong referencing, poor research question, etc.).
From September 2013 the IIS started to use turnitin as feedback tool for written assignments. With this tool one can add common feedback points in multiple categories. For example, one can construct a score card on three main topics: language, strucuture, and content. Within these 3 topic one can create standard comments, s.a. 'avoid passive writting' or 'use APA referencing'. On top of this teachers can add a reference to the textbook or reader where students can read up on these topics.
Students get elaborate feedback on written assignments and can use feedback to improve the quality of their next versions. In the end this helps them to achieve a higher level of writting (and analytical) skills.
Turnitin provides the oppertunity to integrate feedback comments and an assessment rubric. So when students view there assessment they can see which comments refer to which assessment categories. Thereby they are provided with an in depth insight into their areas for improvement.
A) Experience (satisfaction) of students
Students show high appriciation for the tool. They can access the feedback online, at any time, and have a clear view on which topics they are lacking behind, and on which ones they are already on the right way. They also have all their written assignments in one location and can review their old attempts easily.
B) Experience (satisfaction) of the lecturer about (re)design
The main advantage for the teachers is the fact that most comments are standerdized. This means that all teachers pay attention to roughly the same points. So regardless of the amount of teachers involved in the course, the feedback is more attuned. Some other advantages are: quality of feedback improves (more eleborate, reference to reader); peer review option where students can comment on each other; build in (fast working) plagiarism tool; improvement in organization and communication (all papers are filed together).