EdTech 7 ways to improve grading online

7 Ways to Improve Grading Online: Turnitin and Google Assignments

Substantive and timely feedback are essential in assessing student work. It can be a very rewarding experience to evaluate student work—but, it can also be one of the most time consuming and monotonous tasks facing professors. Multiple assignments across multiple classes of varying sizes and subject matters can leave many feeling burdened by a never-ending pile of work to assess. 

In this post, we will highlight 7 ways to improve grading online using two particular platforms: Turnitin Feedback Studio (TFS) and Google Assignments (GA). Turnitin Feedback Studio is often utilized more for its plagiarism detection and Google Assignments has only recently been activated for use at Boston University. But both platforms integrate directly with Blackboard and provide a variety of helpful grading functions that can help instructors grade more efficiently, effectively, and—perhaps most important—quickly! 

1. Convert Comments into QuickMarks for Easy Reuse (TFS)

QuickMarks offer a way of storing and reusing common pieces of feedback across multiple student submissions. Are students relying too heavily on passive voice? Are thesis statements in the wrong location? Are students missing citations? You can create a QuickMark to provide substantive feedback with links to external resources once, save that, then apply it to any student paper where applicable! This way you can provide each student with substantive and helpful feedback while saving you time.

2. Leave Voice Comments for Substantive Feedback (TFS) 

On a written assignment, instructors will often provide line-by-line commenting, followed by substantive feedback on the assignment as a whole. Turnitin Feedback Studio offers an audio recording option for providing verbal feedback on student’s assignments. You can leave one two minute comment per submission. This can save instructors time since they no longer need to type out these comments. Also, especially in the online or LfA classroom, students appreciate how audio feedback can add a personal touch to assessment. 

3. Create and Save Rubrics to Use Across Multiple Assignments (TFS)  

Instructors can create and save simple or complex rubrics in Turnitin Feedback Studio. They can then reuse or adapt those rubrics for use on similar assignments later in the semester. Rubrics can help speed up calculating grades while providing students with detailed criteria for how and why they received a particular score. 

4. Navigate quickly between all submissions in a single browser window (TFS and GA)  

One of the appeals of both Turnitin Feedback Studio and Google Assignments is that they create a grading portal where you can navigate between all student submissions within a single browser. Instructors can navigate from submission to submission sequentially or select specific student work to grade from a dropdown menu. Furthermore, in Google Assignments instructors can choose whether to release all grades simultaneously or to release grades individually.   

5. Create Google Docs Templates for Student Submissions (GA)

Are you tired of student’s formatting their papers in a thousand different ways? Do you want to enforce a single standardized format for an assignment? Do you want students to respond directly to a series of questions in a particular order? Google Assignments helps remedy all these issues and more in allowing instructors to create, distribute, and assign templates for students to use for submitting their assignments. 

6. Enable the Direct Submission of Google Files to Blackboard (GA)

Prior to activating Google Assignments at Boston University, students typically had two options to submit Google files (such as Docs, Sheets, or Slides). Either they would need to share the document directly with the instructor or download the document in a file type uploadable to Blackboard (i.e. Microsoft Word Document or PDF). In the first case, the student would still be able to edit documents after the deadline. In the second case, this required students to convert their documents which often results in formatting errors. Google Assignments fixes both issues. It simultaneously creates a submission portal within blackboard where students can attach Google files directly AND provides an automated system of version control where students cannot edit documents after submission. 

7. Utilize Powerful Commenting and Editing Features (GA) 

Google Assignments takes all the powerful editing and commenting features of Google Docs and makes it available in a dedicated grading interface. Instructors can create and save comments, edit or delete comments, and provide substantive feedback all in a familiar interface. Instructors can also create and grade with rubrics. Furthermore, all the editing features of Google Docs are at the instructor’s disposal, such as changing from Editing to Suggesting instead of deleting or changing the text directly. 

For more detailed information on how to use Turnitin Feedback Studio or Google Assignments, please consult the following resources: 

Email AskEdTech@bu.edu with any questions or to schedule a consultation.


David DeCampAbout the Author: Dave is an Educational Technologist. In this role, he advises and assists faculty on a variety of platforms for classroom use, with a focus on Turnitin Feedback Studio, BU Learning Blocks (BULB), Open Educational Resources, Google Suite for Education, MediaKron, and more.