At Queen Margaret University, approximately 9,300 essays have been marked by tutors within Turnitin and 1,768 assets submitted to ePortfolio over the last 12-months.  For Turnitin, those figures represent a ten-fold increase in its use for marking, within just 4-years.

Senate and Student Experience Committee endorsed that “from September 2018 all eligible submissions, by default, will use Turnitin for Assessment with no paper submissions.”

In this first of a series of postings, in which we will explore the options available for online marking, structuring of feedback and subsequent processes, the following post sets out some of the advantages of this change.


One of the advantages of online submission for students is the immediate and continuous availability of the virtual dropbox without the need to be present on campus. The ability to submit remotely provides an equity of experience across on-campus and off-campus students either studying online or with our collaborative partners. The flexibility also extends to the markers, moderators and external examiners, who are able to immediately access student assessments on or off campus, without the need for administrators to sort through hard copies and minimises the logistical requirement for external examining.


It may be easy for us to romanticise handwritten feedback as being beautifully crafted joined up handwriting, in reality, how often do we all resort to becoming lay egyptologists? We should all be mindful of our obligations under the Equality Act 2010:

Section 20(6) “the steps which it is reasonable for [a provider] to have to take include steps for ensuring that in the circumstances concerned the information is provided in an accessible format.”

Digital assessment and feedback can accommodate individuals needs for accessibility. For example, Turnitin aims to comply with WCAG 2.0 AA standards which is a global technical standard developed with individuals, organisations and governments through the W3C forum.

This means that should a student or tutor need to use a screen reader or other accessibility tool, the two applications will work more seamlessly together, helping to prevent discrimination in access to feedback.

Save and Share

How often have you found yourself repeating the same comment within a submission or even across various papers for an assessment?  The ability to create, save and reuse in-script comments to a personal comment bank is a useful ability within Turnitin. Not only can you create multiple comment banks but they can also be exported and shared with other markers to help bring consistency to feedback vocabulary, particularly when marking as part of a wider team.

Other examples could include:

  • Submission receipts for learners
  • Assisted originality checking for markers
  • Learner engagement data for markers
  • Audio feedback

I have also omitted an explanation of the process enhancements that introducing Digital Assessment technology has helped to facilitate. Over the coming weeks, there will be more blog post about Digital Assessments which you can follow, we also have a series of webinars running that will help to familiarise all QMU tutors with some of the digital assessment tools available to markers at QMU in preparation for 2018/9.