using turn it in at ucla jack bishop, ph.d. ucla,
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Using Turn It In at UCLA Jack Bishop, Ph.D. UCLA, Office of Instructional Development December 2006 Technologically-assisted academic dishonesty has rightfully attracted much attention among educators over the past decade as new technologies emerge that enable students to get over by using them to short-cut the effort normally associated with passing courses. Technologies such as the Internet, cell phones, programmable calculators, pagers and Ipods are luring students away from often arduous academic work and toward the easy path to success. One of the most serious problems is student plagiarism on term papers. Plagarism detection was the impetus behind the creation of Turnitin.com, just one of the many technologies designed to counteract this phenomenon. Turnitin was designed as a brake against the rising incidents of technologically-enhanced academic dishonesty such as buying papers outright on cheat sites, essay mills, copying and pasting the majority of a papers content from online sources, or simply re-using papers previously submitted (either by themselves or by other students). Without the aid of an electronic database with which professors could compare papers, challenging the originality of a paper could be a very difficult endeavor. Below, I first present an overview of using Turnitin.com, and then I present an argument that examines the implications of using such a system. During the fall quarters at UCLA, I instruct a lower division course in the Department of Ethnomusicology called Global Pop. The course draws between 80 and 90 students. In the previous fall quarter I assigned a rather lengthy research paper and at the end of the quarter I sat down to read all of them one by one. Receiving eighty 16-20 page papers meant that I had the pleasure of reading through 1,200-1,600 pages, and making corrections, before I could turn in the grades. Now, I love to read student papers, but as I read, I felt the eerie feeling that I had previously read some of the ideas elsewhere. As an ethnomusicologist, I have read an incredible amount of writings about music, and although the exact original sources may have escaped me, I knew I had read similar words elsewhere. Since my students were not music majors, and in many cases my course was the first music course they had taken, the sophistication of the analyses seemed disjointed from the sources. But, alas, not having utilized the Turnitin feature on the MyUCLA website, checking the originality of the papers became a very daunting task. During the current fall session, learning from my mistake, and having assigned a paper based upon internet research, I decided to give Turnitin a try. Part One: What Turnitin Does Turnitin allows students to submit their written assignments online. On the students MyUCLA web page, there is a link to Turnitin under each course in which the student is enrolled. Upon clicking that link the student is taken to the Turnitin homepage for that class (if the instructor has set one up). There, the assignment(s) are listed with a submit icon for each. When the student clicks the submit icon she is taken to a page where she
chooses her name from a drop-down menu. Once she selects her name she is then asked to enter the paper title. Finally, she is asked to click on the Browse button which then allows her to point to the file on her computer. Once the correct file has been located, the student clicks the submit button and the file is uploaded to the Turnitin database. Thats all there is to it. The submissions go into the Turnitin database and are compared to the existing papers in its database and returns to the instructor an originality report which highlights strings of text that match other documents. The originality reports are based on exhaustive searches of billions of pages from both current and archived instances of the internet, millions of student papers previously submitted to Turnitin and commercial databases of journal articles and periodicals (Turnitin.com 2006). For each paper submitted Turnitin generates an originality report that rates the amount of text matching source files in the database on a scale from 0 to 100 percent. The report is presented in a very intuitive and detailed manner which allows the instructor to spend valuable time addressing the causes of the plagiarism rather than searching for the plagiarized sources.
Figure 1 Turnitin Originality Report
When the instructor enters the homepage for the course, he will see the assignment(s) and an icon beside each named inbox. Clicking that icon reveals the roster of enrolled students and the status of their submissions. It will either say no submission or it will
have the title of the students paper. To the right of the paper title is a color-coded report icon that reports the percentage of material in the students papers that matches other sources. By clicking on that report icon, the instructor can then see the entire originality report. (Please see Figure 1 above). After clicking on the originality report icon in the student roster, the instructor is presented with a new window which displays the originality report. The report is divided into essentially three areas: the header, the student paper and the list of matched sources. Lets begin with the header.
Figure 2 Turnitin Originality Report Header
The header contains a great deal of information such as the paper title, the students name, the date and time the paper was processed, the paper identification number and the word count. There are also links to print, save and refresh the reports, prefs (display preference settings for the originality report), and a link for help. (The image in Figure 2 does not show the prefs link). Additionally, there are links to move to the originality reports for the previous or the next paper according to the list in the student roster. In the gray bar that separates the header from the rest of the report you will find the Overall Similarity Index, which displays the percentage of similarities between the students papers and outside sources, including its accompanying color code. To the right of this similarity index are two links that allow the instructor to exclude quoted materials and the bibliographic information. The instructor should only click on these links after reviewing the paper to determine that the quotes are properly cited and the bibliography is correct. Once these things are determined, the instructor can eliminate the quoted materials and bibliographies from the comparison. (Once these links are engaged expect the Overall Similarity Index to drop, often significantly). To the right of those links is a drop down mode menu that allows the instructor to investigate the suspect sources one at a time or all together. There is also an option to view the paper in what is known as a quick view or classic report. I have found that the show highest matches together option presents the instructor with the most efficient means of verifying the papers content and checking suspect sources. Below the header and the gray bar are two windows, or the body of the report. The window on the left displays the student paper and the window on the right displays the matched sources. When Turnitin detects similarities between the student paper and an outside source, it bolds the text, turns the text to red, places it in a highlighted box and assigns it a number. That number corresponds to an entry in the window on the right side, which is where Turnitin displays suspect outside sources. The sources are listed 3
according to the percentage of the match with the highest percentage coming first. When the instructor mouses over the highlighted text in the students paper the corresponding source on the right illuminates letting the instructor have a quick view of the suspect source. When the instructor clicks on the numbered text box in the students paper a Direct Source Comparison window appears displaying the matching text within the context of the suspect source. The matching text is blocked out and highlighted as in the students paper for easy comparison.
Figure 3 Turnitin Originality Report Body with Direct Source Comparison Window
The Direct Source Comparison window offers a link to the source as it appears on its original web page and up and down scroll arrows to see the previous or next matching text. (In Figure 3 above, you will find an image of the body of the Originality Report, including the Direct Source Comparison window). If the matching text is not from the web, but is from a student paper previously submitted through Turnitin, the instructor is presented with the following message: Because submitted papers remain the intellectual property of their authors, instructors, and respective institutions, we are unable to show you the content of this paper at this time. If the instructor stills wants to view the paper he may click on the button Send a Request to View This Paper. Upon clicking the button a request is sent to the students school and the instructor who handle such requests on a case-by-case basis. (Usually, they give their permission and within two days or so the instructor receives an email with the entire contents of the students paper). By checking the suspect sources an instructor can decide whether the matching text is used in properly cited passages within the text. If this is the case, then it is safe to click on the exclude quoted link in the gray bar of the header that will then re-access 4
the paper and return a new originality report. If the student papers references or bibliography sections are causing matches, the instructor may choose to remove them from the comparison by clicking the exclude bibliography link which will also reaccess the paper and return a fresh originality report. As mentioned, if the instructor chooses one, or both, of these links the Overall Si