This is the second post in a series on tools that GRACE teachers use to improve the process, content, and quality of our students’ writing. To read the first post see Improving the Writing Process.
Turnitin is a tool to help students learn to correctly use and cite others’ ideas. Many students do not grasp the difference between plagiarizing and relying too much on the writing of the authors they research. One is dishonest; the other is poor paraphrasing. Paraphrasing is a complicated skill. Turnitin walks students through the process of comparing their words with the original source, allowing them to see exactly where they used another’s exact words, where they paraphrased, and where they are expressing their own ideas Turnitin permits students to submit preliminary drafts and check their writing before final submission. For both original and non-original work, students confidently learn to present ideas and avoid serious reactive penalties for mishandling or misrepresenting work.
“Turnitin provides feedback to students on their use of source material with the world’s largest content comparison database and highlights original writing and proper citation (Turnitin Website).”
Besides noting plagiarism, Turnitin also points out phrasing in papers that is commonly found in published works. In this case, a student may not have plagiarized, but is using unoriginal words and phrases resulting in mediocre writing. Teachers can engage in proactive conversations and instruction with students about word choice, assisting them in developing an exceptional personal writing style.
In the hands of GRACE teachers, Turnitin is a powerful tool enabling our students to learn important lessons about proper research protocol, to become strong writers, and to be prepared to write in college and corporate business environment.