Missy Mohler

Using Turnitin to Evaluate Student Work in Online Nursing Classes

Missy Mohler, Assistant Professor of Nursing
Mount Carmel College of Nursing


With Turnitin’s Rubrics, QuickMarks, Voice Comments, and ETS e-rater, Mohler finds that evaluating work for her online nursing students is easier and more effective. The feedback she provides in Turnitin has helped her students understand the grade that they’ve earned while lessening the time she spends in giving specific feedback.

Turnitin: Welcome to the Turnitin Educator Spotlight Series! My name is Kenneth Balibalos. Joining me today is Missy Mohler, Assistant Professor of Nursing at Mount Carmel College of Nursing and a Grading & Feedback Honorable Mention for the Turnitin All-Stars Award Program. Welcome Missy, thanks for joining us today.

Could you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

M.M.: Yes, my name is Missy Mohler. I teach for Mount Carmel College of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio. I teach both in the didactic setting, in a traditional classroom, as well as in our online program for the RN-BSN.

Turnitin: Could you walk me through the features you use in Turnitin and your specific approaches and strategies for each one?

As a student, they deserve specific feedback. They put so much time into writing their papers. I spend as much time as I can grading them, and I've always wanted to be able to be as specific as possible and provide the richest feedback I could. And now, through Turnitin and GradeMark, it allows me to do that easily and quickly.
Lafayette Eaton, St. John Fisher College

M.M.: In Mount Carmel College, our college requires all students to submit their APA papers to Turnitin. I have two of my larger classes that submit those papers each semester. In the past, I've had them submit their papers to Turnitin and then look at the originality report. Then, I would grade using Microsoft Word, Track Changes. Within the past six or eight months, I've started using the GradeMark tool, and I absolutely love it. It saves me so much time in grading. Also, I started using the rubric function, which also saves a lot of time and helps the students to understand why they’ve received the grade that they earned.

When I use Turnitin, I allow the students to submit their papers as many times as they choose prior to the due date. What I've found is that this really produces higher quality papers, and therefore it’s a lot easier to grade, and quicker. The QuickMarks within GradeMark are one of my favorite features. I think they're awesome because, like I said, when I was grading using the Track Changes in Microsoft Word, I found myself typing the same thing over and over and over within the comments. So now it’s just one click, and I have my own individualized set of QuickMarks that I use with all papers.

I think that through grading with GradeMark that I would estimate that it saves me about 50% of my time—cuts down 50% of my time for grading.

Turnitin: What about the benefits of using Turnitin in an online context?

M.M.: We have online students throughout the United States, so I never get the opportunity to meet with them face to face. I think these voice comments really allow it to become more personable and more authentic and genuine. It allows me to better explain myself as to why I gave them the grade that they got. And sometimes when you type something or use QuickMarks, you may still need to provide more input and to be able to verbalize that to them and for them to hear you talk about it. I think that they can then understand where I'm coming from as far as why they received that grade.

Turnitin: Could you talk about how specific features in Turnitin help you save time grading?

M.M.: One of the areas within GradeMark that I find reduces a lot of my time (other than just being able to click on the QuickMarks) are that you can link those to specific criteria within the rubric, and it counts them up for you. So within my rubrics, it will say, for example, if there are zero to three spelling errors, you receive this amount of points. If there are four to six, this allocates points for each of that. So the ETS e-rater answers that for me. I never have to go through the paper, I just one click, and I can see exactly how many errors for APA writing, style, spelling, and grammar, etc.

Before I would make all of my comments, and then I would have to go back to the beginning of the paper and count how many APA errors there were and how many writing style errors, and now I just have to make that one click and it’s already counted for me.

Turnitin: What type of criteria and other things are you looking for specifically in a nursing context? What are some of the areas that you focus on in how you evaluate student learning?

M.M.: The first area is the APA writing format, so we're always grading towards the APA style in nursing. Of course, the second area would be the writing style for grammar, punctuation, and spelling, run-on sentences—all of that. Then, the rest of my rubric is based on the content that I'm requiring the paper to be written about. I feel like the more detailed and specific my rubric is, the easier it is for them to write it and to achieve a good grade. So within my rubric, I have it spelled out how they can achieve full points for each section. For example, one of the classes I teach is a leadership course, and the students are required to go through several different websites about safety in nursing. And then, they watch a short video about an actual true story about how a young man died in the hospital because of errors on nursing’s part.

So they're required within their paper to talk about the ethical code of nursing, and they're also required within that rubric to state the description of the assignment to write about what they would do if they were the nurse manager on that unit following such a tragic event.

Turnitin: Why is it so important to provide your students with specific in-depth feedback?

M.M.: I feel that as a student they deserve that. They put a lot of time into writing the papers, and I spend as much time as I can grading them. And I've always wanted to be able to be as specific as possible and provide the richest feedback I could. And now through Turnitin and GradeMark, it allows me to do that easily and quickly.

Turnitin: As a final question, what would you tell other instructors about the importance of Turnitin?

M.M.: I would first and foremost say that Turnitin obviously saves so much time when I'm grading. That would be one benefit to faculty. And then the other benefit is for our students, that they have the ability to see their mistakes and correct them before they turn their papers in. So, if they can correct those grammar and spelling mistakes before they submit their final paper that eliminates the need for us to do that and grade them appropriately. I will be presenting and encouraging this to the Mount Carmel online faculty at a meeting we're having and showing them how to do it in hopes that they’ll start doing it more. I don't think that many of the other faculty in our program are currently using GradeMark. They're using Turnitin for originality reports, but they're not using GradeMark. So, the dean has asked me to present it in a meeting and try to get the others on board, because I know that they’ll love it just as much as I do.

Turnitin: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience with us. I’ve been talking to Missy Mohler, Assistant Professor of Nursing at Mount Carmel College of Nursing.