How to Turnitin Frogs into Princes: A plagiarism detection software story of changing the habits of a lifetime

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

Once upon a time, in the autumn of 2007, the presenter undertook a pilot project to explore possible implementation of ‘Turnitin’ plagiarism detection software with Level 5 undergraduate Physical Theatre students. The students involved were a cohort of twenty, most of whom had participated in a previous study using Turnitin in Level 4. Some were nervous writers. All preferred practical work to written work. Some of them had previously been through malpractice procedures, and some of them, who should have done so, hadn’t… The previous sampling had demonstrated that whilst manual detection by hard pressed essay markers was doing quite well, some cases were slipping through the net. The aims of this pilot included considerations of how best to implement software to avoid alienating students, without frightening technophobic staff, whilst keeping budget holders happy… There are plenty of other projects and papers and even conferences surrounding Turnitin. To hard pressed staff marking piles of essays, plagiarism detection software looks extremely attractive: the time it takes for software to assess the content of, say, twenty submitted scripts is magical when set against the hours it can take to examine one script. But we wanted to examine how true that might be for this department: was time saved in one area lost in another through having to maintain class inboxes and manage electronic scripts, was software really going to be an aid, or would it be like the fat busting grill that ends up unwashed and unloved in a cupboard under the sink because it’s too much trouble? No amount of report reading and fact finding can ever really show you what it’s like to use such software and how it might best be used to support your students on your course, so we set out to find out. In setting out into this pilot study , with various ‘powers that be’ at the university watching, I worried that I was opening a can of worms, but, over the course of the twelve weeks something strange and wonderful happened… This presentation discusses the aims of the pilot study which involved an examination of a shift from a reactive to a proactive approach to malpractice (in other words: prevention is better than the cure), through to the introduction of developmental approaches to writing resulting in students taking a greater ownership of and responsibility for, their own writing processes, but it will also concern itself with the personal narratives of self discovery articulated along the way by both staff and students; the self esteem of inexperienced undergraduate writers; the ownership of learning; and how, along the way, Turnitin, ticking quietly away underneath it all, was almost forgotten...
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2008
EventiPED Researching Academic Visions and Realities: Academic Writing; Conceptions of Leadership; Emergent Pedagogies - Coventry University, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 Sep 20089 Sep 2008

Conference

ConferenceiPED Researching Academic Visions and Realities: Academic Writing; Conceptions of Leadership; Emergent Pedagogies
CountryUnited Kingdom
Period8/09/089/09/08

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    Newall, H. (2008). How to Turnitin Frogs into Princes: A plagiarism detection software story of changing the habits of a lifetime. Paper presented at iPED Researching Academic Visions and Realities: Academic Writing; Conceptions of Leadership; Emergent Pedagogies, United Kingdom.