Turnitin plagiarism software offered again
Software benefits faculty and students as well
Published: Friday, September 27, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 26, 2013 15:09
Faculty have switched back to Turnitin as their primary plagiarism-detecting software, which allows faculty scan student papers through the website and in return marking any plagiarized portion.
“I wasn’t aware faculty had this tool available to them,” junior Kenia Cruz said. “It is definitely going to be useful and it sends a message to students to not plagiarize because they can very easily get caught.”
Blackboard Certified Trainer Rebecca Muzquiz said the university has been using a program called SafeAssign for the last year which is offered through Blackboard.
“We were previous Turnitin users, but because of budget costs and utilization, we canceled our subscription, so that is why we were using SafeAssign for a year. We were able to negotiate a better contract to save the university money and [Turnitin] was able to be re-implemented.”
More students are working online and the technology is making it easier to plagiarize, Director of Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research John Wegner said.
“The ease at which someone can cut and paste a document [is incredible],” Wegner said. “Data tells us that somewhere between 76 to 95 percent of students cheat at some point in their college career.”
According to its website, Turnitin serves over 1 million active instructors, 20 million licensed students, and 10,000 educational Institutions. Wegner said there was a large group of faculty who didn’t like how SafeAssign worked and wanted Turnitin back.
“When we left our Turnitin contract and came back, it was a joy all over campus,” Muzquiz said. “From them we heard lots of great things like how it is working in their courses and how they are able to prevent some of the cheating aspects that are happening in higher education. I think [the faculty] is pretty excited to have it.”
Faculty are not required to use the Turnitin software, Muzquiz said, but it is available to them if they wish to use it.
“I would hope all of the faculty takes advantage of Turnitin,” Cruz said. “If any of my professors did not use this program and another classmate plagiarized, I would want them to be penalized for their mistake.”
Wegner said each faculty member has the choice of how they will handle academic integrity within their class.
“While we expect all of our students to act with integrity, we expect faculty to uphold those standards,” he said.
Muzquiz said Turnitin will locate the plagiarized portions of the story and even list the sources of information.
“Turnitin is a much more robust tool,” Muzquiz said. “So it doesn’t just tell you where you plagiarized; it also tells you things like grammatical errors, spelling. It runs [the paper] through the system and checks for plagiarism, highlighting each piece that was plagiarized and what site it came from. You get kind of a two-level report.”
Wegner said Turnitin is beneficial for students because students can realize and learn from their mistakes.
“For students, [Turnitin] is kind of like the first wake up call,” Muzquiz said. “You get to load your paper, you get a chance to see where you plagiarized. A lot of times it is unintentional. This is an opportunity to see where you made mistakes and how come you made those mistakes.”
Muzquiz said faculty have the Turnitin service for a year, but as for the future, it is undetermined.
“Money is always very tight, especially in Texas, where we are trying to cut costs and save money and then, in turn, save students tuition fees,” she said. “It is really hard to see if we will keep it indefinitely. The best we can do is make sure faculty know that it is there and have training and support for it so they can utilize the tools.”
Students shouldn’t be afraid of this software because it is ultimately preparing students for their future careers, Muzquiz said.
“Everywhere you go, you write,” Muzquiz said. “This is the first step—to make those mistakes so that you can be prepared for the future. Students shouldn’t see it as their professors checking for plagiarism and wanting to fail students in the course. [Students] should really look at it as an opportunity to grow. This is your chance to make mistakes and make them now before you get into the real world.”