Jonathan Smith is the School Director for Technology Enhanced Learning in ISLI (International Study and Language Institute). He is also a PSE (Pre-sessional English) Course Director and teacher of English.

The Pre-sessional English programme accepts around 600 to 800 students each year. Their students develop English skills in academic writing, reading, speaking and listening.

In the area of academic writing Jonathan Smith and his team have been exploring the use of Turnitin (Tii) GradeMark to facilitate electronic marking and feedback via:

. E-submission of written essays.

. E-marking and e-feedback via GradeMark using QuickMarks and text comments.

. Student engagement with feedback in subsequent production of written work.

About five or six years ago, before the use of GradeMark was adopted in the university, a group of pre-sessional staff attended a conference in Southampton in which colleagues of other universities presented how they were using GradeMark. It seemed a tool that could not only save time producing feedback but produce feedback of a more consistent quality. A couple of years later PSE started exploring its use with our cohorts of English academic writing students.

Listen to Jonathan’s experience on how he got involved with electronic submission, marking and feedback via Tii in this podcast.

Jonathan Smith, provides all PSE teachers with a one-hour workshop on how to use Turnitin and Grademark. Part of the training involves the use of the PSE ‘QuickMarks’ for e-feedback. These QuickMarks focus on common student errors with explanations and links to relevant sources – and can be used to provide in-text feedback. ‘QuickMarks’ are based not only on common grammar and lexical errors but also on the complexity of the language structures used and coherence and cohesion in the texts. Students are also assessed on content, use of references and other areas of relevance to academic essay writing.

After the training session, tutors set up submission points for formative work, in this manner students grow accustomed to submit work, access feedback, see and compare their own progress.

Students receive feedback almost immediately and they can work on the feedback either to bring it to the next class or towards their next assignments.








From the teachers’ perspective it was noticed that it was quicker to note common student errors in-text using QuickMarks. It was possible to see colleagues’ feedback comments which facilitated new tutors becoming familiar with marking and feedback across the cohorts.







One of the big advantages is that Turnitin is a one stop shop for both checking similarity and producing and receiving feedback. Students upload their essays, they can see their similarity reports and have the opportunity to take action and re-submit. There are a few technical issues around doing that, but the pre-sessional programme is committed to students seeing their similarity reports and using them to get a better idea of the quality and acceptability of their work.

Visit the EMA programme site to find out more case studies and updates