TurnItIn Makes Turning in Your Assignment a Moment of Anxiety ... Or Maybe Not!
Turnitin is an online “originality” checker (read: plagiarism checker) and feedback system that everyone is education seems already to know of. While other plagiarism checkers are out there, none have the user base (1.6+ million educators), or the rich feedback system, than TurnItIn has. TurnItIn allows teachers to grade, comment, and highlight student work, and for students to access that same feedback, so the tool potentially becomes a formative assessment and dialogue for writing, with the original draft and other iterations remaining as artifacts of learning. TurnItIn provides many options for teachers, so it is flexible. Teachers can set the system up so that kids can see their originality score immediately upon submission of their work, and to re-submit work after addressing issues of plagiarism. In this way, TurnItIn can become a partner is teaching proper citation, which is ever so important at the college level. Therefor we must teach kids proper citation skills while in K-12. Its popularity gives TurnItIn enough clout that LMS providers routinely embed TurnItIn into their assignment generation routines. Just point and click!
My primary concern is in the application of TurnItIn. Just as a screwdriver is perfectly suited for turning screws, it still makes a poor tool for spreading peanut butter or jam on bread. So, too, TurnItIn is best when used as formative assessment and feedback tool in the teaching-learning process. It is underused, at best, and misused at worst, when TurnItIn is used as a “gotcha!” to “catch” kids plagiarizing work.
How I Use It
I use TurnItIn for essays so that kids can see their originality scores and address missed citations in their texts. I do not use TurnItIn as a “gotcha!” While I provide audio feedback to students, other teachers make copious notes on TurnItIn that students can then use to revise their work.