Blackboard Learn Ultra: October Update 2023 

The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit would like to highlight four enhancements to Instructors from the October Blackboard Learn Ultra.

1. Partial credit auto-distribution for correct answers for Multiple Choice questions

Multiple-choice questions with more than one correct answer are valuable assessment tools. Also known as multiple-answer or multiple-select questions, these questions assess comprehensive understanding. They also promote deeper learning and higher-order thinking skills. 

Some instructors wish to award partial credit for these question types. This practice awards students who have a partial understanding. It also fosters a positive learning experience. 

In the past, instructors had to enter a value for partial credit percentage for each option. Now, Blackboard will auto-distribute partial credit across correct answer choices. This distribution provides efficiency and saves instructors’ time. If desired, instructors can edit the values if some correct answer options warrant more or less credit. Values for correct answers must sum to 100%. 

Image below: Question credit auto-distributes across correct answer options; values can be edited.

A screenshot of creating a multiple choice question. Allow partial and negative credit highlighted. Percentages highlighted.

2. Send reminder from gradebook list and grid views

Instructors may want to send a reminder to students or groups who haven’t yet made a submission for an assessment. To make this easy, Blackboard have added a “Send Reminder” option to items in the Gradebook. 

There are two views of the Gradebook that can be toggled between using the button. List view and grid view

Image below: Use the list view and grid view button to toggle between views. 

From the Gradebook list view, the option to send a reminder is in the overflow menu (three dots). 

Image below: Send Reminder option from list view 

A screenshot of the Gradebook in list view. Send reminder is highlighted.

Instructors may access the “Send Reminder” option in the grid view by selecting the gradebook column header. 

Image below: Send Reminder option from grid view

A screenshot of the Gradebook in grid view. Send reminder is highlighted.

3. Delegated grading distribution by group membership

Instructors sometimes distribute the grading workload for an assessment to multiple graders. This is a popular practice in larger classes. Instructors can assign graders to groups of students with the new delegated grading option. Each grader will only see the submissions made by students in the group(s) assigned to them. 

Delegated Grading can be used with all available group types. This first release of Delegated Grading supports assignment submissions from individual students. Tests, group assessments, and anonymous submissions are not supported at this time. These will be released at a later date. 

After selecting the Delegated Grading option, select the appropriate Group Set. Instructors can assign one or more graders to each group in the group set. If multiple graders are assigned to the same group, they will share the grading responsibility for the group members. 

Graders assigned to a group of students will only see submissions for those students on the assignment’s submission page. They can only post grades for their assigned group members. Any unassigned instructors enrolled in the course will see all student submissions on the assignment’s submission page. They also post grades for all students. 

Note: At least one Group Set complete with Groups must be present in the course before using the Delegated Grading option. 

Image below: Instructor view of the assessment Settings panel with the Delegated Grading option enabled.

A screenshot of the assignment settings. Delegrated Grading is highlighted.

4. Sorting for manually added gradable items.

Sorting controls help instructors organize and find information in the gradebook. Instructors can now use sorting controls on the grades page for manually created items. The sorting controls enable sorting in both ascending and descending order. Instructors can sort the following information: 

  • Student name 
  • Grade 
  • Feedback 
  • Post status 

The applied sorting order is temporary and resets when you leave the page. 

Note: Sorting controls can be applied to one column at a time. When you sort another column, items will order according to the selected column. 

Image below: Instructor view of sorting controls on the grades page for a manually added gradable item 

A screenshot of the the Gradebook for a manually created item. The sorting controls at the head of columns are highlighted.

Launch of Turnitin AI writing and ChatGPT Detection Capability

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On 4 April Turnitin will be launching their new AI writing and ChatGPT detection capability which will be added to the Similarity Report.  Before colleagues start using the AI detector, we thought that we would caveat it with the following quotations from authoritative professional bodies in the sector.

Jisc notes: “AI detectors cannot prove conclusively that text was written by AI.”

— Michael Webb (17/3/2023), AI writing detectors – concepts and considerations, Jisc National Centre for AI

The QAA advises: “Be cautious in your use of tools that claim to detect text generated by AI and advise staff of the institutional position. The output from these tools is unverified and there is evidence that some text generated by AI evades detection. In addition, students may not have given permission to upload their work to these tools or agreed how their data will be stored.”

— QAA (31/1/2023), The rise of artificial intelligence software and potential risks for academic integrity: briefing paper for higher education providers

Please also see the Guidance for Staff compiled by the Generative AI Working Group led by Mary Jacob. The guide outlines suggestions for how we can explain our existing assessments to students in ways that will discourage unacceptable academic practice with AI, and also red flags to consider when marking.

You can read more about the Turnitin AI enhancement in this Turnitin blog post.

For guidance on how to use this tool, take a look at Turnitin’s:

Turnitin also published an AI writing resource page to support educators with teaching resources and to report its progress in developing AI writing detection features.

If you have any questions about using Turnitin’s AI writing and ChatGPT detection capability or interpreting the results, please contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit (

Contract Cheating: Red Flag Checklist Workshop– Materials Available

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On 20 May, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit were joined by Dr Mary Davies, Stephen Bunbury,  Anna Krajewska, and Dr Matthew Jones for their online workshop: Contract Cheating Detection for Markers (Red Flags).

With other colleagues, they form the London South East Academic Integrity Network Contract Cheating Working Group and have been doing essential work and research into the increased use of essay mills and contract cheating.

The session included lots of practical tips for colleagues to help detect the use of Contract Cheating whilst marking.

The resources from the session are available below:

Further information on Unfair Academic Practice is available in the Academic Quality Handbook (see section 10).

Many thanks to the presenters. We’ve had such great external speaker sessions this academic year; take a look at our External Speakers blogposts for further information.

LTEU External Speaker Event: Contract Cheating Detection for Markers

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The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to announce its next External Speaker Event.

On 20 May 2022 12:30-13:30, Dr Mary Davies, Principal Lecturer in the Business School at Oxford Brookes University, and colleagues will be running a workshop on their interactive red flag checklist resource Contract Cheating Detection for Markers.

Dr Davies will be joined by Stephen Bunbury, Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Westminster, Anna Krajewska, Director of the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Bloomsbury Institute, and Dr Matthew Jones, Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Greenwich.

This workshop is designed to help staff participants detect potential contract cheating when marking. The presenters belong to the London and South East Academic Integrity Network Contract Cheating Working Group who put together an interactive ‘red flag’ checklist resource Contract Cheating Detection for Markers.

In the workshop, the presenters will explain the red flags that indicate possible contract cheating, through discussing sections of the checklist: text analysis, referencing and the use of sources, Turnitin similarity and text matching, document properties, the writing process, comparison with students’ previous work, and comparison to cohort. Participants will be provided with opportunities to practise using the checklist and to discuss effective ways to help them identify potential contract cheating in student work.

Resources from previous External Speaker events can be found on our blog.

The workshop will take place online using Microsoft Teams. Book your place online.

Please contact the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit if you have any questions (

Updates to E-submission and E-feedback Policy

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The updated E-submission Policy has been approved by Academic Enhancement Committee. You can read the updated policy on our E-submission Pages.

The aim of the updated policy was to bring it in line with our Lecture Capture Policy and provide greater clarity over its scope and requirements from staff and students.

One big change that will affect the creation of Turnitin submission points is the introduction of a policy that gives student the option to submit multiple times before the deadline and also to view their Turnitin originality report. In the creation of the Turnitin submission point, choose the following settings:

  • Generate Similarity Reports for Students – Immediately (can overwrite until Due Date)
  • Allow Students to See Similarity Reports – Yes

The updated policy outlines:

  • The scope of E-submission and E-feedback
  • How our E-submission technologies makes use of yours and your students’ data
  • Tips for the submission of electronic work, including deadlines, giving students the opportunity to practice submitting
  • Grading and feedback expectations
  • Electronic submission for dissertations
  • Retention periods
  • Copyright
  • How IT failures are handled
  • Accessibility guidance for staff and students
  • The support available

Our E-submission page outlines all the support and training available for staff on e-submission. If you’ve got any questions about how to use these tools or drop us an email for assistance (

Demystifying Assessment Criteria

Assessment Criteria serve a number of functions: to render the marking process transparent; to provide clarity about what is being assessed how; to ensure fairness across all submissions; and to provide quality assurance in terms of the subject benchmark statements. While all these reasons are valid and honourable, there are a number of issues at play:

  1. Staff have greater or lesser control of the assessment criteria they are asked to use in marking student work and interpretations of criteria may vary between different staff marking the same assessment.
  2. Assessment criteria are different from standards and the difference between the two must be clearly communicated to students (ie. what is being assessed versus how well a criterion has been met).
  3. Students are often assessment motivated (cf. Worth, 2014) and overemphasis of criteria or overly detailed assessment criteria can lead to a box ticking-type approach.
  4. Conversely, criteria that are too vague or too reliant on tacit subject knowledge can be mystifying and inaccessible to students, especially at the beginning of their degree.

This blog post will not pretend to solve all the issues surrounding assessment criteria but will offer a number of potential strategies staff and departments more widely may employ to demystify assessment criteria, and marking processes, for students. Thus, students become involved in a community of practice, rather than being treated as consumers (cf. Worth, 2014; Molesworth, Scullion & Nixon, 2011). Such activities can roughly be grouped chronologically in terms of happening before, during, or after an assessment.


  • Use assessment criteria to identify goals and outcomes at the beginning of a module, with check-in points in the run up to a deadline.
  • Identify the difficulty in understanding marking criteria. Students are often used to very narrow definitions of success with clear statements that “earn” them points. Combined with a prevalent fear of failure, this can undermine their understanding of the criteria. Additionally, they may feel that they cannot judge their own abilities well in this new context (university). Group discussions not of what criteria mean, but what students understand them to mean, can help identify jargon that requires clarification, allow staff to explain their personal understanding (if they are the marker) and allow students to seek clarification before embarking on an assessment.
  • Highlight the difference between criteria and standards to students (the what and the how well – and how this is distinguished in your discipline).
  • Allocating time to a peer marking exercise using the provided criteria with subsequent group discussion will help students better understand the process.
  • Encouraging students to self mark their work pre-submission using the provided criteria will also help them better understand the process.
  • Using exemplars to illustrate both criteria and standards with concrete examples can be very helpful. This might involve students marking an exemplar in session, with subsequent discussion; annotated exemplars where students gain insights into the marking process; or live feedback sessions where students submit extracts of their work-in-progress that are used (anonymised) to show the whole group the marking process. This then allows for questions and clarification on the judgements a marker makes when working through a submission. Staff may worry that students consider exemplars as “the only right way” to respond to an assessment brief – providing a range of exemplars, especially good ones, can counteract this tendency. Different types of exemplars can be used:
    • ‘Real’ assignments may be best for their inherent complexity (so long as students whose work is used consent to this use and their work is properly anonymised).
    • Constructed exemplars may make assessment qualities more visible.
    • Constructed excerpts (rather than full-length pieces) may be more appropriate when students first learn to look for criteria and how they translate into work as well as allay staff concerns about plagiarism.


  • Use the same language: making the links between assessment criteria, subject standards, and university standards clear through using the same terminology in feedback as appears in assessment criteria and subject benchmark statements.
  • Where multiple markers engage with different groups of students on the same assessment, having exemplars to refer to can help ensure clear standards across larger cohorts.


  • Refer students back to the assessment criteria and preceding discussions thereof when they engage with feedback and marks.
  • Reiterate the difference between criteria and standards.

Simply providing students with access to assessment criteria is not enough. It is essential that staff identify and clarify the distinction between criteria and standards and demystify the language of assessment criteria by examining tacit subject knowledge staff possess by virtue of experience. Using exemplars and group discussion of these in concretising how criteria and standards translate into a submission will provide students with insights into the marking process that enables them to better understand what they are being asked to do. Lastly, staff should repeatedly encourage students to make use of the availability of assessment criteria while they work on their assessments, which should enable students to feel better prepared and more focussed in their responses.


Molesworth, M., Scullion, R., and Nixon, E. (eds.) (2011) The Marketisation of Higher Education and the Student as Consumer, London: Routledge

Worth, N. (2014) ‘Student-focused Assessment Criteria: Thinking Through Best Practice’, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 38:3, pp. 361-372; DOI: 10.1080/03098265.2014.919441

Mini-Fest: Assessment – 17th May – 21st May

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The Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit is pleased to announce its first mini-festival. The aim of the mini-fest is to bring together training sessions and workshops offered by LTEU around a particular topic with an external speaker. For this first mini-fest, we’ll be looking specifically at assessment. The mini fest will run from Monday 17th May until Friday 21st May and will be taking place online via Teams. Please book on the sessions that you wish to attend on our online booking system.

We are going to be joined by Professors Sally Brown and Kay Sambell to talk about assessment design post covid on Monday 17th May for a 2-hour workshop at 10.30am. Their paper Writing Better Assignments in the post Covid19 Era has been widely discussed across the sector since last summer:

Improving assessment and feedback processes post-pandemic: authentic approaches to improve student learning and engagement.

This workshop is designed to build on lessons learned during the complex transitions academics made last year when face-to-face on-campus assessment became impossible. A whole range of approaches were used by academics globally not only to cope with the contingency but also to streamline assessment and more fully align it with learning.

We now have an important opportunity to change assessment and feedback practices for good by boosting the authenticity of our designs to ensure they are future-fit.  Drawing on their work undertaken throughout 2020, the facilitators of this workshop Professor Kay Sambell and Professor Sally Brown will argue that we can’t ever go back to former ways of assessment and will propose practical, manageable approaches that fully integrate assessment and feedback with learning, leading to improved outcomes and longer-term learning for students.

Professor Kay Sambell is an Independent Consultant widely known internationally for her contributions to the Assessment for Learning (AfL) movement in higher education. A 2002 National Teaching Fellow (NTF) and Principal Fellow Higher Education Academy (PFHEA), she is President of the vibrant Assessment in Higher Education (AHE) conference series, ( and Visiting Professor of Assessment for Learning at the University of Sunderland and the University of Cumbria. Kay has held personal chairs in Learning and Teaching at Northumbria University, where she co-led one of the UK Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning which specialised in AfL, and, more recently, at Edinburgh Napier University.


Professor Sally Brown is an Independent Consultant in Learning, Teaching and Assessment and Emerita Professor at Leeds Beckett University where she was, until 2010, Pro-Vice-Chancellor. She is also Visiting Professor at Edge Hill University and formerly at the Universities of Plymouth, Robert Gordon, South Wales and Liverpool John Moores and at Australian universities James Cook Central Queensland and the Sunshine Coast. She is a PFHEA, a Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) Senior Fellow and an NTF. She is widely published on learning, teaching and particularly assessment and enjoys working with institutions and teams on improving the student learning experience.


In addition to Sally’s and Kay’s workshop, LTEU will be offering sessions and workshops over the course of the week:

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External Speaker: Mini Conference: Advice for Action – Promoting Good Feedback Practice

Distance Learner BannerOn Wednesday 16th December, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit will host their next Mini Conference.

We are delighted to announce that Dr Naomi Winstone from University of Surrey will be giving a presentation:

From Transmission to Transformation: Maximising Student Engagement with Feedback

Even the highest-quality feedback on students’ work will not have an impact on their development unless students actively engage with and implement the advice. The literature, alongside anecdotal reports of educators, often paint a negative picture of students’ willingness to read and enact feedback. My recent programme of research has focused on students’ cognitive, motivational, and emotional landscapes and how they influence the ways in which students receive, process, and implement feedback on their work. In this talk, I will argue that maximising students’ engagement with feedback is fundamentally an issue of design, where opportunities for students to develop the skills required for effective use of feedback, and opportunities to apply feedback, can transform the role of students in assessment. In particular, I will share a toolkit of resources that we developed in partnership with students to support the development of feedback ‘recipience skills’. Through this approach, I demonstrate how the responsibility for ensuring that feedback has high impact can, and should, be shared between educators and students.

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Flags and the Insight Panel in Turnitin Feedback Studio

Staff who have graded assignment submissions via Turnitin will be familiar with the Similarity Report the Feedback Studio. The Feedback Studio interface highlights matches with online sources.

Turnitin have updated the interface of the Feedback Studio to now highlight for review textual inconsistencies in submission. These highlights are termed Flags.

Flags pick up potential integrity issues such as:
•Replaced text characters which could be inserted to circumvent a similarity match.
•Hidden text such as quotation marks that could impact the percentage of quoted material and enable the passing off of such content as original.

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Academy Mini-Conference (call for proposals) – ‘Advice for Action: Promoting Good Feedback Practice’

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On Wednesday 16th December, the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Unit will be hosting the first of this year’s Academy Mini-Conferences online. The theme will be ‘Advice for Action: Promoting Good Feedback Practice’, where we will explore how to make feedback more useful and engaging for students.

The three main strands for this Mini-Conference are:

  • Marking group assessments
  • Peer assessment and feedback
  • Improving student learning through feedback

We are looking for proposals from staff, postgraduate teaching assistants and students to give presentations, demonstrations, workshops and discussions on their current feedback and assessment practices. Even if your proposal does not particularly fit the strands above, other relevant proposals are very welcome.

If you would like to submit a proposal to this year’s Mini-Conference, please fill in this online form before Wednesday 18th November.

You can register to attend the Mini-Conference by clicking on this link. If you have any queries, please email