Improving engagement with feedback using Turnitin and Self Marking


Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Bristol


Dr Francesco Fornetti, 

Tools used


  • To promote self regulated learning
  • To improve engagement with feedback
  • To develop students' ability to self assess their work


As part of the first year Electronics 1 unit (circa 100 students) students are required to submit a technical laboratory report based on two three hour sessions. In previous years the marking was delegated to another lecturer and students were required to submit a printed document.

This caused unnecessary stress due to students trying to print and hand in the documents. The biggest problem was the lack of individual feedback for students. They only received general feedback and the marking guidelines just before the exam. The students’ feedback mirrored this with negative comments about both the paper submission and the generality of feedback.

What was done

For his first year teaching the unit Francesco decided to update the assessment by allowing students to submit work online to Turnitin through Blackboard. Prior to the Lab session a marking scheme was given and once they submitted their work, students were able to see a detailed marking rubric. This comprised of 12 sections, each graded 0-5, with each grade clearly explained. Once a student had seen the Rubric they could re-submit as many times as they wanted prior to the deadline.

In addition to feedback in the detailed rubric, Francesco provided personalised feedback. For common mistakes, a set of comments were created which could be simply dragged in as appropriate. Most technical notes required additional and bespoke comments. Also as part of each assessment, individual overall feedback was given.

Before the feedback and grades were released a self-marking session was held. Each of the 12 sections were addressed with exemplar examples and the Rubric was explained in detail again. The exemplar examples came from two sources Francesco's own approach to the question and the best from the students submitted work. The students were then invited to mark their own work by using an online calculator which weighted their scores correctly giving the overall grade.  Once everyone in the session had submitted their marks, the actual grades and feedback were released.

Section of Rubric used


What worked well

  • The self marking session allowed the students not only to engage with the objectives of their coursework and the standard required but also with the feedback given to other students as well as their own.
  • Over 50% of the students attended the session as this gave them the opportunity to gain extra marks for their report. If their estimated mark was identical to the one that had been awarded they would have 10% added and if they were + or - 5 they would have 5% added.
  • 71% felt that the self marking session improved their understanding of the laboratory exercises
  • 60% of students agreed strongly that the individual feedback will help them perform better in future coursework

Student feedback

  • The self marking session was fun and educational experience
  • Having these sessions in other modules would be very useful
  • Following the guidelines helped me see what was missing from my report hence allowed me to predict (my grade) correctly

Tips and suggestions for future projects

If students receive good feedback it can encourage them to keep studying. If when they receive feedback, they are looking for encouragement but only receive corrections of errors this may not support their learning in the most effective way. With this in mind for the next iteration Francesco will be endeavouring to increase the amount of positive feedback in an attempt to increase motivation.