Category Archives: Turnitin

How to ensure Turnitin grades and feedback are not leaked

When creating a Turnitin assignment, there are two areas we need to check to make sure the grades and feedback are not leaked to students.

Turnitin Assignment Settings

If this setting is not correct, students will be able to see their marks and feedback ahead of the post date, from the same location they initially submitted their work.

When creating the assignment, in the Additional Settings, there is an option for “Do you want to only release marks on the post date”. This needs to be set to “Yes”. One issue we have is that it defaults to “No”, even if you have changed your defaults.

Blackboard Grade Centre

If these steps are not taken correctly, marks or feedback may be released to students through the “My Grades” functionality in Blackboard.

There are three steps you need to take to ensure this doesn’t happen.

  1. Once your assignment has been created in your module visit the relevant area in the Grade Centre (Control Panel > Grade Centre > Full Grade Centre)
  2. Now navigate to the relevant column heading for your assignment and select Edit Column Information. See the corresponding image(click on it to see a larger version)
  3. On the “Edit Column” page scroll down to section 3, Options. Turn all of the options to NO and then click submit. See the corresponding image, click on it to see a larger one.


When you are ready to release the marks and feedback to students, we recommend you unhide the grade centre column.


Bug affecting student access to feedback in Blackboard and Turnitin

Update 06.02.2018

This issue has now been fixed

Who is affected?

There is  a bug in My Grades which is affecting students being able to access feedback from Turnitin, Blackboard Tests and Blackboard Assessments.

Usually students should be able to click on the name of the assignment or test and this will open up the feedback.

Screenshot of My Grades

However, if a student is using a window that is 1410 pixels wide or smaller they are unable to click on this link.  This means that most tablets and many laptops with smaller screens are affected by the bug. Continue reading Bug affecting student access to feedback in Blackboard and Turnitin

Hiding/Unhiding a Grade Centre column

  1. Go to the course/module in Blackboard
  2. Under the Control Panel, click Grade Centre then Full Grade Centre
  3. Find the column associated with the assignment. New assignments appear at the right. You may need to scroll across.
  4. Find the column and use the drop down menu and then click Hide from Students (on/off)

When you are happy for students to see their grades and feedback, return to the Grade Centre and repeat the above steps

Turnitin UK Academic Integrity Summit 2017

I recently attended the Turnitin UK Academic Integrity Summit 2017 held in Newcastle Upon Tyne.  This was a very timely conference following the release of the QAA report into contract cheating.  I was concerned that this would be a day-long sales pitch from Turnitin but was pleasantly surprised to find the opposite. There were many presentations from institutions around the world, but very little ‘grandstanding’ from Turnitin.

Stephen Gow, Academic Integrity Coordinator, University of York

The first session I attended was a look at the approach from the University of York towards academic integrity. They discussed the importance of the language used at the University, moving away from terms such as “plagiarism” towards “academic integrity”. All their students have a mandatory academic integrity online tutorial they must complete in Semester 1 of Stage 1. They are working closely with the student union on their “integrity week” and are also working more closely with staff, including on their Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PGCAP).

Turnitin Data Workflows

The second session was a discussion session with the Turnitin staff exploring the types of data and statistics institutions would like to get out of Turnitin. This included reports on feedback return time, statistics around number of students receiving extensions, archiving, learning analytics, and reporting on the various functions used. We hope Turnitin will use this in the further developments of the software.

Bill Loller, Turnitin

The third session was facilitated by Bill Loller, Chief Product Officer at Jobvite, who is working on a technical solution to expose contract cheating for Turnitin. They are using expertise from the field of forensic linguistics to develop a product. Forensic linguistics may be used in a court case to determine whether a person did, or did not, write a document. They are currently testing their modelling and developing a report that will provide a confidence score.

Bill continued this theme into a larger session with the group, showing some of the contract cheating/essay mills websites prevalent online. He admitted that Turnitin may have helped with this problem – “crack down on plagiarism and students will look elsewhere”. These websites offer 10,000 words for approximately £300.

Simon Bullock, QAA

Simon Bullock from the QAA was next to discuss his recent publication “Contracting to Cheat in Higher Education – How to Address Contract Cheating, the Use of Third-Party Services and Essay Mills.”  He discussed the risks to the public if students were obtaining their degrees through cheating but that despite attempts it is not yet illegal to offer essay mill services online. The QAA is exploring as many non-legislative methods as possible.

Irene Glendinning, Coventry University

Irene Glendinning of Coventry University presented her research work analysing the impact of policies for plagiarism in Higher Education across Europe. She highlighted the UK and Ireland as being some way ahead of many other countries in Europe. They have developed an academic integrity maturity model, a tool to compare the results of the impact analysis across 27 EU member states.

Cath Ellis, New South Wales

The presentation that had the most impact on me was from Cath Ellis from the University of New South Wales. Cath reported that there was too much anecdotal information forming decisions, and not enough hard data.

To find out how many students are using contract cheating services, Cath asked them anonymously. Out of the 14,096 students surveyed around 6% (n=814) admitted to cheating in some form during their programme. The vast majority of this cheating comes in the form of assistance from other or former students. It is not commercially driven. The cheating group’s attitudes show they are less likely to think it’s wrong, although there was no discernible difference between English and non-English speaking students. Non-English speaking students are as likely to think cheating is wrong as English speaking students. Other findings of the study showed that when there are perceptions that there are a lot of opportunities to cheat, cheating goes up. And when there is dissatisfaction with the teaching environment, cheating goes up.

Cath discussed the need for students to have “ethical fitness” – we should not try to remove every opportunity to cheat as students need to be ethical.

She then discussed the various types of contract cheating and review some of the typical websites.

Assessment design is widely advocated as a possible solution to contract cheating, but Cath argued that this is a myth. We should not change our assessment design because of a small percentage of cheaters. Reduced assessment time (shorter deadlines) will actually drive students towards essay mills.

Cath noted that we are not having the correct conversations with students and advised us to discuss contract cheating with them. Part of the study looked at the perceptions of how prevalent contract cheating is, compared to how damaging it is. The study showed that students in the cheating group thought that a lot of students were doing it and it was not that serious. Staff members thought it was not very common but it was very serious. Students in the non-cheating group followed the same path as the students in the cheating group. They also thought that lots of students were doing it while it was not very serious.

Professor Phil Newton – Swansea University

The last presentation was given by Professor Phil Newton from Swansea University. He presented various research projects that explored academic integrity.

I found the event extremely useful and I have reflected since on the way Newcastle University approaches academic integrity. The presentation from Cath Ellis convinced me that we should not be changing any approaches to assessment to attempt to counter the small number of cheating students, but we should be minimising their opportunities to cheat. We also need to be having more conversations with staff and students about the promotion of academic integrity, and the impact contract cheating could have on their career.

Downloading Turnitin Assignments

You can download the student assignments from Turnitin by following the steps below.

  1. Access Turnitin using the Turnitin Assignment section in Course Tools.bp1
  2. Select the relevant assignment from the list of Turnitin Assignments shown.bp2
  3. Use the empty squares next to each name to select the relevant assignments you wish to download.bp3
  4. If you wish to download all of them, use the box at the top to select all the names.You will see a yellow bar appear, and on this yellow area towards the right-hand side of the page is a download button. You have the options to download:
    • The original papers
    • The original papers as .pdf
    • The grademark paper (i.e. with quickmark comments, etc)

Turniitin screenshot

Students viewing their feedback via GradeMark

If your students need a reminder on how they can access their feedback on assignments this will help.

To view your GradeMark feedback

1 Follow the same link you used to submit your work

2 To view your marked paper, select the blue View button next to the assignment. Your paper will open in a separate window where you can read the feedback or print the grade and comment information. We recommend that you use Chrome (or Safari for Mac users) to access your feedback.

view feedback screen clip

Tip: If the GradeMark View button is grey, the return date and time for the assignment has not been reached. If you are trying to view the feedback after this time and it is still greyed out, please check with your School Office.

Creating a Turnitin Submission in Blackboard (quick guide)

  1. Go to your  module a content area (e.g. Assessments).
  2. Make sure ‘Edit Mode’ is ON.
  3. Under Assessments choose Turnitin Assignment
  4. Enter any specific instructions, for example,any specifications for the name of the file. If marking anonymously, you may wish to tell students to include their student id in the title.
  5. Set the start and end dates (the first date students can submit and the last date)
  6. The Post Date is relevant if marking online You can use his as the date to release the score to students.
  7. Click Optional Settings

  8. You will find settings for marking anonymously, showing the Turnitin report for students and setting he grade to only display after the post date
  9. Click Submit to complete the process

    For more information on the full  the range of settings, see the full manual

Submitting scanned images

It is sometimes necessary to include a scanned image in an assignment, for example if you want to include a picture of a model or a display or a poster you’ve created.

If your entire document is an image file, this cannot be read by Turnitin, irrespective of whether there is text in the image or not, or whether you save it as a pdf or not. While we can distinguish the text within the image, software can’t and the file will be rejected by Turnitin. If you are submitting to a Turnitin assignment in a Blackboard module, this means that your work is not submitted.

To include an image in an assignment there are a number of options and you should check which is acceptable with your module tutor

1. use a Word document; include some text on the first page, for example, the title of the assessment, or a completed cover sheet; add the images you want to the Word file as Insert > Picture, give them captions to identify them. Save the document and submit it.

2. use a PowerPoint document; use the first slide to include text, eg the title of the assignment or a completed cover sheet using Insert> Object> Select from file and browse for the document. Add the images you want as subsequent slides. Save the document and submit it.

Quick steps to getting started with using Turnitin on the iPad

1. Go into the Blackboard module you want to use GradeMark with and using Course Tools> Turnitin Assignments> [your assessment name] to get the list of submitted work.

Open ONE originality report, select the GradeMark view.
At the bottom, on the left hand side you should see a small iPad shaped button, click on this and then Generate Code.  You will be given a 16 letter unique code “Access Code”. Note this code is unique to you and only valid for 24 hours. If you log out, take more than 24 hours to use the code or unlink your iPad, you will need to generate a new code.

2. Download the app from the Apple store to your iPad

3. BEFORE opening the Turnitin App –

  • Go to the ‘Settings’ on your iPad (looks like an app with a sprocket image).
  • Scroll the navigation menu down to ‘Turnitin.’
  • Tap the ‘Turnitin’ line.
  • Tap the ‘Service’ field
  • Tap ‘TurnitinUK’

4. Open the Turnitin app

enter the access code at the login screen

5. Getting to Your Assignments
Once logged in, tap the “Accounts” button in the upper right to view the sidebar (if you are holding the iPad in landscape orientation, the sidebar will already be visible).

  • Tap on the account you want to access. This will give you a list of all of your active classes under this account.
  • Tap on the Class you want to view. This will give you a list of all the assignments from this class.
  • Tap on the assignment you want to view. The main window will update to view the list of students categorized by ungraded, graded, or not submitted and sorted alphabetically.
  • Tap on one of the blue cloud-download icons to download and sync papers.
  • In the Sync Papers box that appears, you will be prompted to sync all papers for the assignment. Tap the “Sync Papers” button to enable syncing. With this enabled, all papers will download and changes will be synced approximately every 5 minutes.

Once all papers are downloaded you will see the Overall Similarity Scores for each paper. Tap on any student name to view that paper.

6. See here for information on how to add comments to your student papers