To Turnitin or Not to Turnitin? The Pros and Cons of using the Turnitin.com Integration with NEO
Type of technology: Website and App
SAMR Model Rating: Augmentation
Grade level: All Levels
Subject area: All Subjects
Cost: Yearly subscription cost for NEO integration = $900 per school site
In my classroom this year, I am attempting to modernize the process of essay submission and scoring by going wholly digital and paperless. To this end, I created a Turnitin assignment on NEO, the students uploaded their digital documents directly to NEO, I scored the documents and commented on them in the Turnitin window, and they accessed the feedback online. Below, you will find frequently asked questions and my review of the process so that you can discern for yourself if you would like to add Turnitin to your teacher toolbox.
Q:What is turnitin.com?
A: Turnitin.com is an app and a website that encourages students to generate original written compositions by checking their work for plagiarism. It compares their work to all documents published on the Internet and to the Turnitin repository from all contributing secondary and higher education institutions. According to a recent study, Turnitin boasts the following successes:
- High schools using Turnitin reduced unoriginal content in student writing by 33 percent over the course of the eight-year study.
- Forty-three of the 50 states showed a reduction in unoriginal writing over the course of the study.
- Twenty-one states exhibited an increase in levels of unoriginal writing during their second year of Turnitin usage as instructors and students grew familiar with the technology and its impact in the classroom.
In addition, Turnitin can be used to grade work online and peer edit online.
Q: Who might use turnitin.com?
Any teacher who wants to discourage dishonest duplication of assignments or illicit “borrowing” of information from Internet resources should consider using this tool. In the Common Core era, I imagine all teachers meet this criterion. As an English teacher who routinely requires students to submit work that might be tempting to plagiarize such as literary analysis of texts, I find the anti-plagiarism site turnitin.com to be a vital classroom tool.
Q: How do I get access to Turnitin?
A: You will need to consult with your curriculum administrator to find out if your school site has funded access to Turnitin.
Q: I’ve heard rumors that Turnitin is tricky to use. Is this true?
I did experience some early adopter obstacles, but the site is quite effective and fairly user friendly. The greatest problem I faced was an inability for Turnitin to create student accounts because students did not have accurate email addresses in NEO. NOTE: Turnitin will not function if this step is not completed correctly.
Please watch this step-by-step video on how to update student email addresses to enable Turnitin functionality:
Q: How do I create a Turnitin assignment on NEO?
Please watch this step-by-step video on how to create an assignment.
Q: How do I teach my students how to upload a digital document to the Turnitin assignment on NEO?
Please watch this step-by-step video from the student view on how to upload a digital document to the Turnitin assignment on NEO?
Q: How do I grade an assignment on NEO?
Please watch this step-by-step video on how to grade an assignment.
Q: What is your overall impression regarding the pros and cons of Turnitin?
- discourages plagiarism
- paperless, expedient feedback for students
- grades transfer directly into NEO
- teacher comments can be typed or recorded
- no fuss creation of classes via the NEO integration = timesaver
Concerning the grading process, I very much appreciated the extensive quick mark comment bank and the option to leave audio comments on student work. Students indicated that they found the specific feedback with links to resources quite valuable. They were also pleased that they did not have to work to decipher handwriting. They were completely unfazed by the submission process once it was clearly explained. I would highly recommend showing them the student view video or mirroring to the AppleTV while a student actually uploads a document. The immediate creation of classes via the NEO integration was a real timesaver, as was the syncing of the grades back to NEO. I would recommend using the grading module in Turnitin for final drafts only because the uploaded paper is static. Google Docs would be a better tool for real-time editing feedback.
- can not export NEO rubrics to Turnitin
- slow to refresh at times
- you must have Internet access to grade = no more grading papers by the pool 🙁
- personally, it takes me longer to cyber comment than handwrite responses
While I find the plagiarism check to be indispensable, I am not enthusiastic about having to reinvent the wheel in respect to rubrics. I communicated with NEO support, and they indicated that they are working on an option for teachers to disable the grading part of Turnitin so that you can use Turnitin for plagiarism detection only and enter the grade (using a rubric if desired) via NEO. To me, this seems like a workaround instead of a fix. Additionally, it took some time for me to adjust to being chained to my laptop. In the past, I would grade papers while flying cross country or lying by the pool, but now I have to ensure that I have Internet access to grade. Also, students have to click a number of icons to get to their comments. I worry that many may not be reading my copious comments, but I am confident that those who do will find them helpful.
Overall, I would recommend trying this service if you have access through your school. The plagiarism check is a solid deterrent for students, and the grading and peer editing modules offer some unique tools for providing feedback. Go ahead and make them Turnitin!