Website review by Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2013


Encourage original work and give feedback with this valuable tool

Learning rating
Community rating
Based on 13 reviews
Privacy rating
68%| Warning Expert evaluation by Common Sense
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts, Character & SEL

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Pros: Between the accountability and valuable feedback, it offers students and teachers a positive way to get real about improving writing skills.

Cons: Only schoolwide accounts are available, so individual teachers can't subscribe on their own; overall design could be improved a bit.

Bottom Line: Beyond the convenience factor, it's almost a necessity for the teaching of writing in today's digital world.

While ELA and social studies teachers may get the most out of the service, teachers in any content area will find it a helpful tool for assigning and evaluating students' writing. Have students submit papers, and then assign a peer evaluation project -- students can then revise using peer feedback before submitting a final draft. Teachers can use the interface to communicate with students via email or through the discussion forums.  

The Discussions feature is a powerful tool for generating student interest in topics of depth and complexity. While engaging and empowering some of your more introverted students -- or those who may just be reluctant to share out loud in class -- the forums can also be a great way to encourage positive digital citizenship.

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Available through schoolwide subscription, Turnitin is an online plagiarism detector as well as an electronic grading and feedback system for students' writing assignments. As teachers create assignments, students submit files from a computer or a cloud-based service like Dropbox or Google Drive. Turnitin checks each assignment for plagiarism (or improper citation) using its OriginalityCheck system; assignments can also be peer- or teacher-evaluated using the PeerMark and GradeMark features. There's also a Forums section for hosting class discussions, with customizable moderation levels.

The OriginalityCheck feature checks student papers against a massive database of content, with detailed similarity reports for teachers. The GradeMark feature lets teachers use their own rubrics or select from a vast library of pre-loaded ones. Feedback can be given using pre-made or customizable markings; teachers can also attach comments to specific parts of students' papers.

Standout Features:

  • Turnitin claims its OriginalityCheck database checks student work against more than 300 million student papers and more than 130 million academic texts, as well as a better part of the web.
  • A companion iPad app allows teachers to grade on the go; using the app, teachers also have the option to leave voice comments. 
  • The Discussions feature has options to allow flexibility for a variety of engaging uses.

Without taking the teacher's place, Turnitin provides all the right support as teachers help students in the writing process. The plagiarism scanner works amazingly well -- it's an invaluable resource in the digital age. Originality reports are easy-to-read, (usually) appear within minutes of a submission, and offer links to original sources. Perhaps more important, the system catches work that hasn't been properly paraphrased or quoted, offering opportunities to re-teach and reinforce these valuable skills.

While some may still prefer the human touch of pen-and-paper marking, Turnitin offers a great way to give students detailed, constructive feedback -- without having to lug around stacks of papers. The PeerMark feature engages students in ongoing self-assessment as they pick up important online collaboration skills. The Discussions tool can allow for anonymity while also ensuring that students are held accountable. Within that tool, however, it would be great if Turnitin could tweak the design, as it can sometimes be tricky to delineate the flow of certain conversations between students. In terms of support, Turnitin offers thorough FAQs, videos, and even in-person trainings to help teachers make the most of this powerful tool.

Overall Rating


Paper-free submission, grading, and feedback are great. While design is clean and user-friendly, the site could use more pizzazz to help students stick around, and perhaps extend learning, after they finish required work.


Teachers can give more in-depth feedback in the time they save not shuffling papers. Students are empowered to improve writing through peer feedback and teacher comments, and classes interact socially through discussion boards.


Extensive help and training is available through the site. Rubrics, aligned to the CCSS, are included -- teachers can also create and add their own rubrics.

Common Sense reviewer
Amanda Bindel Classroom teacher

Community Rating

(See all 13 reviews) (13 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Tony R. , Classroom teacher
Classroom teacher
Herriman High School
Herriman, United States
This is a great product for those of us who don't teach English but who want to support writing across the curriculum, and teach our students to communicate their learning.
I love this product. What I love most is the ease and speed with which I can now easily grade a classroom's papers. I also like the fact that students can submit the paper for edits multiple times, as well and the quick spelling and grammar feedback it give. Finally, I like the plagiarism tool and the ability to verify if the paper has been turned in before. The one area where it could serve better is if the similarity tool updated automatically. Right now it only updates if you re-run it for eac ...
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Data Safety
How safe is this product?
Users can interact with trusted users.
Unclear whether users can interact with untrusted users, including strangers and/or adults.
Profile information must be shared for social interactions.
Data Rights
What rights do I have to the data?
Users can create or upload content.
Users retain ownership of their data.
Processes to access or review user data are available.
Ads & Tracking
Are there advertisements or tracking?
Personal information is shared for third-party marketing.
Traditional or contextual advertisements are displayed.
Unclear whether this product displays personalised advertising.

Continue reading about this tool's privacy practices, including data collection, sharing, and security.

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