Dr Newnham is the module convenor for LLB Family Law. Her areas of interest include, Child Law, Autopoietic Theory, The Common Intention Constructive Trust.
Since 2015, Annika has gradually personalised the ‘Quickmarks’ function within Turnitin Grademark to be both discipline specific and also assignment specific. In addition, Dr Newnham has also developed a lengthy comments bank which she can draw on and personalise to ensure that she can write high quality feedback more quickly, speeding up the entire marking process.
The School of Law currently operates online submission, marking and feedback for the vast majority of assessed work. As part of this process it makes extensive use of Turnitin Grademark and some of the functionality on offer, including Quickmarks. Given the large numbers of students submitting work within the School and the need to provide high quality feedback quickly, I wanted to use these new tools to speed up the entire marking process and support the quality and quantity of feedback offered.
The School of Law recruits strongly, makes extensive use of summative assessment and maintains a large number of core modules. Online assessment has been adopted, in part, to help support the continued provision of high quality feedback in this context while ensuring that feedback is returned to students within 15 working days.
Grademark allows for the customisation of Quickmarks by individuals markers. I very quickly began to customise the Quickmarks that were available to me by adding comments that I make frequently. Gradually, over time, my Quickmarks section has expanded to include a whole series of comments which range from just a few words to more lengthy sections of text. Dragging these across to relevant sections of text saves me a considerable amount of time because I’m not writing out the same type of comment again and again. I’ve even developed my set of Quickmarks to be specific not only to each module I teach but to each assignment I mark within that module. I carefully save each set with a different name so I can easily access them again. Grademark even remembers my Quickmarks sets from one year to the next so my collection appears automatically when I open each new essay.
I wanted to explore the possibilities of reducing marking time whilst maintaining the quality and quantity of feedback in other areas.
This approach worked very well for targeted in text comments throughout the essay but, like most markers, I also leave summative text in the general comments section in the Grademark sidebar so that students have a sense of my overall thoughts. I started to compile a lengthy list of comments that I use extensively in a simple and separate word document. I ordered each set under key headings. Some of these are generic for all essays: writing style, referencing, structure and so on. There are also sets of comments on how students have tackled a particular issue in law, for example how well they have presented balanced arguments on commercial surrogacy, or have understood the different stages of a cohabitant’s claim for a share in her ex-partner’s house. Each heading contains 8-10 different sentences or longer sections covering a wide range of different areas I may want to comment on. I am then able to cut and paste the most relevant into the Grademark comment box and, if needed, rewrite to suit the exact statement for the specific essay I’m working on. This process has become even more efficient since the arrival of a second screen. I can list my commonly used statement on the left hand screen, cut and paste or drag over to the actual essay on my right hand screen. Although I might then want to personalise the statement I still save a significant amount of time in comparison to typing everything out repeatedly for each essay.
I maintain a balance between the use of Quickmarks, my comments bank and specific comments written for each piece of work. Students should not receive exactly the same comments time and time again. Feedback should not become a highly mechanised process. But Quickmarks and comments banks can be used as a starting point or work alongside very specific comments written for a particular piece of work. In this way I can maintain the quality and quantity of my feedback whilst speeding up the marking process considerably. In particular, this approach seems to ensure greater consistency between essays in terms of the amount of feedback that each student receives because it is so much quicker and easier to insert comments. More broadly it feels like a far more efficient process and is certainly a more fulfilling task to undertake.
Quickmarks and cut and paste comments have made marking feel much less like a chore; and removes the irritation often felt if you have to correct the same misunderstanding again and again to different students.