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Creating and Grading Assignments

To grade all your assignments online, creating the assignment using Turnitin in Moodle (through the Add an Activity or Resource link) may be the best choice. The video here will show you all the steps of creating the assignment and a grading rubric that will speed up your grading significantly and make the TA’s job much easier. The rubric creates graded blocks with comments for each level (excellent, very good, good, fair, poor) justifying the number of points given to the students. The TAs/instructor then go into the submissions, apply the rubric with a few clicks, and quickly grade the assignments providing consistent feedback. Specific comments can also be added for each student, but if you setup the rubric with numeric values to excellent, very good, good, fair, poor, then those comments generally speak for themselves.

Below is an example from MIE 302 (click to enlarge). We thank Stephen Nonnemann for this example and the Turnitin suggestion!

As you may know, Turnitin also checks for the originality of the papers submitted and checks online to assess potential plagiarism.


Incredibly helpful tool to speed up grading, make it a lot more consistent, and provide better feedback for students. It is free this semester. Just go to and sign up for an instructor account. It is easy to use and they have tons of videos explaining how it works right there on the Getting Started Guide available on the left menu.

Some highlights:

  • Students can submit their scanned responses and they will be asked to let Gradescope know on which page each of the questions on the assignment can be found. When you are grading, the system shows you the same question for each of the students (e.g you finish grading the first question of student A and click next to be presented with the first question of student B, and so on). This way you can consistently grade the first question for each student before moving to the next.
  • As you grade a question and see errors students make, you keep adding to a list the error type and feedback for the student, as well as the number of points to be deducted for that error. You can even type mathematical terms for your feedback as if it were a Latex file. The next time a student makes the same error, you just need to click on that particular error on the list, the feedback will be given to the student and the points deducted. If at some point you change your mind as to how many points to take off for a particular error, you do so and it will take effect for all of the students. You can even change the rubric after grades have been released; if a student requests a regrade and you change something for that student, then you can change it for all and stay fully consistent.
  • Even if you are grading with the rubric you are creating on the fly, it still provides flexibility to add or subtract additional points for a single student.
  • TAs have access as well and can assist in grading.
  • The system can group all of the similar answers from students to do automatic grading.
  • Regrade requests are handled via Gradescope, making it very easy to assess their merits and change the grade on the fly when appropriate.
  • For computer assignments, it will assess similarity of the assignments submitted and show side-by-side the suspect submissions.

A few drawbacks:

  • Cannot be synched with Moodle because Umass does not have a site license. So your students will have to submit to Gradescope instead of Moodle. Once you are done grading, you download all of their grades as .csv file and upload to Moodle. Not a big deal.
  • It will not handle question banks to create random exams for students. They plan to add this in the future.

Document Scanning

A number of apps enable you to create high-quality PDFs using your camera.

  • Genius Scan is recommended for Android devices
  • Scannable is recommended for iOS devices.
  • Other good options are Microsoft Office Lens and TinyScanner

Tips for Scanning

  • Use dark lettering, especially when writing in pencil, to make sure the contrast is sufficient.
  • Place the document on a flat surface for scanning
  • Scan your pages slowly with steady hands.
  • Restore photos, if scans are blurry

Next: Student Participation and Student Groups Working Independently »