Jamiyanaa Dashdorj, Ph.D. Physics

Photo of Jamiyanaa Dashdorj

Jamiyanaa Dashdorj, Ph.D.

Creating Rubrics and Use of Wireless Technology in Brightspace and Physics Laboratory


Project Overview

My physics laboratory courses comprise of experiments that accompany the lecture and discussion portions of the algebra- and calculus-based physics courses. These lab courses allow students to gain hands-on experience with course concepts and provide them with the opportunity to explore a variety of scientific methods. Each semester, there are three lab sections. The maximum capacity of a lab section is set at 16 students, and class meetings occur once a week for three hours. Students work in groups consisting of 2-3 students when performing experiments.
The hands-on activities of the lab courses not only provide students the opportunity to understand the concepts more deeply, but also a way for students to collaborate with each other and perform practical scientific studies. One of the most effective ways to accurately assess student learning and performance and to clarify your expectations is to create and use a good rubric for lab report grading.
My technology fellows project goal was to improve student performance and learning and enhance their experimental and scientific writing skills, by implementing the Turnitin and Brightspace rubrics.

A picture of a lab report heading.

Instead of requiring students to submit a full lab report for each experiment they complete, they were asked to submit weekly lab notes. The Lab note submission was due one week after the completion of each experiment, which included brief background theory, experimental procedure, data collection and analysis, and possible sources of error. A good lab notebook shows student’s skills in recording accurate data and performing detailed data analysis.

  • A full lab report was required after every four laboratory experiments. Students are allowed to choose one lab out of the four experiments and write up a laboratory report which included a title, abstract, introduction, procedure, results, discussion and conclusion sessions.
  • Instead of asking students to share their data to group members, all students are now able to collect and analyze their own data using wireless devices so called Airlink and SmartGate.


Planning Process

To begin this project, I did a literature review, reexamined my lab report grading rubric, and compared it with others available online. Based on this research, I designed two rubrics: one for laboratory notebooks and other for full lab reports. I then visited Brightspace video tutorials, and watched videos for creating and using a rubric in Brightspace by D2L. I considered all important rules for good rubrics such as clarity, evaluative criteria, quality definitions and a scoring strategy.
On the hardware level, I purchased two dozen Airlink and SmartGate from Pasco Scientific along with chargers. These wireless devices were connected to laboratory equipment and tested prior to lab experiments.



Prior to posting the rubrics and consultation with Becky Borello, I merged my three lab sections in Brightspace.

  • A laboratory notebook assessment rubric was developed and provided to students as soon as the assignment was posted on Brightspace. Here, the most important expectation was to record everything they perform laboratory experiment including an actual experimental setup picture and detailed data analysis.
  • A carefully designed lab report grading rubric, accompanied by the Turnitin, was developed, and added to Brightspace assignments. Here, the most essential expectation is to follow the guidelines for writing a scientific laboratory report which is significant part of their overall grade.
  • With the above wireless technology, all laptops regardless of USB port types connect measurement sensing devices through Bluetooth using in-app pairing and begin collecting data. They are powered with rechargeable batteries.



  • The average Smart Evaluation score for laboratory courses increased by +0.3, compared to that of previous semester prior to implementing lab grading rubrics in Brightspace.
  • During the grading of laboratory notebook and lab report, I also provided personalized feedback to each student. Many students appreciated and found this to be helpful for their next assignment, future work or revisions.
  • The lab report grading rubric accompanied by Turnitin provides students with clear feedback, so that they understand which sessions of lab report they have to improve, and make grading more transparent and fair.
  • These rubrics expedite laboratory notebook and lab report grading by about three times faster than before. The faster grading turn out time allows for the instructor to focus on refining and solidifying the laboratory component so that it enriches the learning experiences for the students.
  • The use of wireless technology increases motivational levels when students learn to take ownership of their own progress, organize, collect and analyze the data, individually and independently.

Reflections and Next Steps

I will continue to use the rubrics and Turnitin for all my laboratory courses in the future, seeing the benefit in my courses and overall student performance. I will continue to update and upgrade laboratory manuals, both the wireless and wired equipment as our department budget allows and make them user friendly, easy to understand and ability to engage student learning. I will continue efforts to improve the evaluative criteria of my rubrics and make them more clear with scoring guides.

Dr. Nataliya Myshakina – Chemistry

Project Overview

Project 1: Use of Turnitin tool in Writing Intensive Course

I used several instruments implemented in Turnitin to help my students to develop their skills in writing scientific reports and reviews.

  1. Instead of writing a big report after completing laboratory experiment I asked students to submit pre-lab assignment which included scientific background, objectives for the experiment, working hypothesis, and a flow chart of major steps of the experimental procedure.
  2. Grading checklist/rubric was provided to students as soon as the assignment was posted, so students knew what expectations are, and what I am particularly looking for in their pre-lab write-ups.
  3. Peer-Review Assignments. As a part of the pre-lab assignment, each student was asked to read the other student’s work and provide feedback on that. To help students to analyze the work of their peers better, I provided students with questions which they needed to answer while analyzing someone’s work.
  4. Pre-lab graded and feedback was provided to students before they were asked to submit their full laboratory report.
  5. After completing the laboratory experiment, and discussing various aspects of the experiment in class, students had a chance to make any corrections to pre-lab parts of their reports, and then complete the remaining part of their report with Results, Discussion, and Conclusion sections.
  6. Grading checklist was provided to students for full lab report assignment to provide students guidance and clarify expectations

Project 2: Use of Problem-Solving Videos in First Year Chemistry Courses

Many students (first year and more senior students alike) search internet sources to watch practice videos on problems/questions solved in class. There are not always suitable or similar examples could be found on Internet, that is why I decided to create my own library of instructional videos which will explain problems/questions very similar to those covered in class and used in tests or exams.

Project Planning

Project 1. First, I re-visited my expectations on lab report assignments. Based on that I have created a general grading check-list for pre-lab assignment and for a complete laboratory report. I considered how typical research article is organized and wanted my students to recognize essential parts of research articles, what information each part contains and be able to write their reports in a similarity to a research article. I also wanted my students to analyze their own work, fix it as needed, that is why instead of one lab report assignment, I split it into two parts. I wanted students to see examples of other student’s work and learn from it, how they can improve their own writing, or be able to see flaws in someone else’s work and suggests ways to improve it. To achieve these  I created Peer Review assignments and give students a questionnaire to help them with the analysis.  I implemented Bloom’s model of integration, in which students learn information, then they apply that information to write their reports, and last they use their skills to analyze their own work, work of their peers, and suggest or find ways how to improve their work.

Project 2. I have selected topics, which students find particularly difficult, and then selected representative problems for these topics I want my students to see being solved. On the next step, I learned how I can record the videos and share those videos with my students via the course Moodle page.

Project Implementation

Project 1. I didn’t have any big difficulties with this projects, except some small technical Turnitin settings which I needed to set up in a particular way, so my students will have an excess to grading checklists on time or be able to access their peer’s assignments for review.

I didn’t actually have plan B, since the actual use of technology was outside of the classroom, not limited by the class period, and I had time and flexibility to adjust some project aspects.

For example, at the beginning of the semester when I still learning Turnitin, I choose wrong settings for Peer Review assignment and students could not access the assignment on time. As soon, as I learn it, I extended the assignment due date to give students sufficient timeframe to complete the assignment.

Project 2.  I did have some technical difficulties here. First, was the clicking noise of Apple Pencil which appeared very destructive on recorded videos. Use of external microphone helped me to overcome this issue. Next, was the choice of application which will provide the right canvas for writing with the iPencil. I have tried a few different applications and found GoodNotes be the most convenient for what I was planning to do. Last, but not least, was the way to record videos and share them. First, we planned to use Zoom, but after a few trials with Becky, we found it difficult to use. We tried recording videos using iPad screen recording, and then deposit those videos on Panopto and this worked just fine.

Project Assessment

For now, I have assessed both of my projects only informally. Developing an assessment tool for both of these projects is my goal for next year.

Informal assessment :

Project 1 (CHM340/BIO440 Macromolecules Laboratory, implemented in Fall 2018)

  1. More reports submitted on time
  2. Positive student feedback via course evaluations
  3. Paperless grading allowed for a faster turn out of submitted/graded assignments

Project 2 (CHM107 General Chemistry I and CHM108 General Chemistry II, in progress Spring 2019)

  • No assessment yet, plan to compare Final test results from this year to Final results from last year

Project Reflections and Next Steps

Project 1

  1. I will add more details to grading checklists, make them more specific for each lab experiment
  2. I will create student’s reflection questionary for the beginning and the end of the semester to help students to identify their goals in the development of academic writing skills in the beginning of the semester and reflect on the achievement of these goals at the end of the semester.

Project 2 

  1. I will continue to expand my library of videos.
  2. I will work on an assessment plan.
  3. I will work on ways to encourage more students to watch those videos

Katie Cruger, Ph.D. Communications

Using Turnitin’s “Grademark” features to Increase Efficiency and Efficacy of Written Comments

Dr. Katie Cruger
Assistant Professor, Communication
Director, Professional Writing Program


While I used this first year as technology fellow to tweak my courses (online, on ground, and hybrid) in many different ways, I’ve chosen to use this space to share my success incorporating Turnitin for efficient and effective paperless grading at the undergraduate level.

I wanted to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Decrease the amount of time I spent downloading papers, making comments, uploading feedback to moodle, etc., which was much greater than hard copy grading practices
  • Increase usefulness of comments to students
  • Increase the likelihood that students would actually read/incorporate electronic feedback in future work or revisions
image 1

Image 1: The grademark screen in Turnitin.


Beginning in Summer of 2013, once Moodle 2.0 was available, I used Turnitin Assignments for all student submissions of written work (both group assignments and individual papers and proposals). I utilized the following key features of Turnitin:

1)    Originality Report: This is the part of Turnitin that faculty members are most familiar with, and we often use it as a way of catching/proving plagiarism. However, in lower level courses, this is also a great tool for reinforcing information literacy. It lets students see, in a relatively low-stakes environment, when they are relying too heavily on any particular source, when they haven’t done enough to move from a quotation to a paraphrase, etc.

2)    Quickmarks: This feature allows an instructor to drag and drop a standardized comment anywhere in the document. You can edit or make additions to any of these comments, as well as create your own quickmarks for feedback you provide often to students. For sentence level errors and suggestions, it both decreases the time spent giving comments and increases the amount of information students receive about a punctuation rule or the difference between there/they’re/their.

Image 2: A customized quickmark with additional comments for the student.

Image 2: A customized quickmark with additional comments for the student.

Image 3: The quickmark as it appears in the paper. Students hover over the mark or click to read full comments.

Image 3: The quickmark as it appears in the paper. Students hover over the mark or click to read full comments.

3)    Grademark General Comments: Turnitin allows instructors to leave overall feedback on the paper either in text format or as a voice comment.

Image 4: General Comment view, including text feedback, voice comment, numerical grade, and percentage similarity with other sources.

Image 4: General Comment view, including text feedback, voice comment, numerical grade, and percentage similarity with other sources.


When I compared the amount of time I spent grading a Turnitin Assignment (vs. a regular moodle assignments the previous semester, or using iAnnotate and a stylus to mark PDF copies of papers two semesters ago) I spent less than a third of the time (7.5 minutes vs. 25 minutes) per 5-page paper.

Furthermore, I was much happier with the quality and quantity of feedback I was able to provide students. Quickmark comments are thorough, and offer students enough information (in clear text they can read easily) that they are able to incorporate changes in future writing. Their customizability allowed me to tailor a few comments to the style of writing we were working on for a particular assignment without recreating the feedback each time. Voice comments (which limit me to 3 minutes) allow me to quickly talk through the good and the bad of student work and convey enthusiasm and emotion through my voice. This felt particularly important during online courses, where I didn’t have the same face-to-face connection to students.

However, Turnitin does require a little bit more effort from students to retrieve my comments than some other forms of electronic grading. They must first log into moodle, then click on the actual assignment, at which point they are directed to their paper on Turnitin’s server. The process takes about 1 minute, but we know this might be too much effort for some. Once there, students need to toggle between different views in order to see general comments, specific Quickmarks, and the originality report. Although we think of our students as technologically savvy, this has not been my experience when it comes to instructional technologies. Anecdotally, I know a few students struggled to gain access to my comments and asked for help. I can only assume that others struggled and chose not to pursue the matter further. However, I was able to address some of these challenges in productive ways.

Overcoming Challenges

1)    Student User Error: Many students said they “couldn’t see” my comments in Turnitin. This was usually because of one of two problems: either they hadn’t actually clicked on the link and entered turnitin (meaning that they expected all the info to be present in moodle) or they were using a browser that was not compatible. Both were relatively easy fixes. I provided students with instructions for how to use the Grademark feature in Turnitin (see “Resources” below) and stated explicitly in assignment descriptions and in the syllabus that Firefox is the optimal browser for use with moodle and Turnitin. In the future, I may devote classtime to showing students a sample and getting them familiar with the platform.

2)    Instructor User Error: Moodle isn’t always the most user-friendly interface. One quirk with the Turnitin Assignment plugin is that, unprompted, it creates randomized deadlines for all assignments. These parameters are not something that an instructor can amend or disable while they are creating a new assignment. Instead, they must go in and amend the assignment after the fact, so there are two steps to this process. Until I recognized this, students were erroneously notified that their submissions were late, which created some panic.

Next Steps

I will continue to use Turnitin for all my grading in all courses in the future; it’s the best option for my needs and the needs of my students. Additionally, I’d like to incorporate the Peermark feature in my writing-intensive courses, where students must often review one another’s work. Currently, I use Moodle forums or hard copies of papers for these exercises.

I’m also continuing my work exploring VoiceThread to increase student engagement and interaction around course readings in hybrid and online courses.


Student training and GradeMark overview for students