Turnitin – not just a plagiarism detector
Turnitin is a plagiarism detection tool and it is marketed as such to its customers (educators). As a detector of plagiarism, Turnitin’s accuracy is quite high and has proven to be a popular choice amongst educators. Especially in the field of online learning where Turnitin’s submission tools come in very handy. However, as with many things, despite its intended purpose the users often discover a different way of using it, and this is no exception. Studies have shown that Turnitin is not a deterrent against plagiarism for Students, in fact many students perceive the system to be beatable, and more fallible than a human tutor who marks their essays.
A different use has sprung up amongst students and educators whereby instead of using the system as a deterrent, it is being used as an educational tool for how to properly reference your work and improve your writing skills overall. This does require a certain level of buy in from both teachers and students and in doing so Turnitin can be seen more as a learning aid than a policing agent for the students. This will depend on how the system is implemented and presented to the students. One can setup Turnitin to be used as just a final submission tool, which will then have the effect of being perceived as a plagiarism detector, or the teacher can choose to involve Turnitin in the writing process from start to finish. By encouraging students to regularly submit drafts to Turnitin throughout the writing process and to analyse the originality reports themselves (with help from documentation) they can be encouraged to look more closely at what they have written and where their weaknesses are.
This is much more positive use of the tool that actively encourages learning, and is a preventative measure instead of an enforcement tool.