Case study: Improving students’ assessment literacy using Turnitin originality self-check

/Case study: Improving students’ assessment literacy using Turnitin originality self-check

Case study: Improving students’ assessment literacy using Turnitin originality self-check

Dr Ernestina Coast
Department of Social Policy

Course Name: DV457- Sexual and Reproductive Health Programmes: Design, Implementation and Evaluation

Level: Postgraduate students

Class size: 43

Learning objectives

  • Communication
  • Ethics / social responsibility
  • Research skills

Assessment type: Individual & formative

Duration: 9 weeks

Supportive documentation

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Dr Coast says…

As formative preparation for the exam – a 2 hour closed book exam in the ST –
I asked students to answer one question from the previous year’s exam paper.  Students could submit their draft answer through Turnitin, and adjust their essay in light of the Turnitin report, before making their final submission. 

Using Turnitin for formative work provided students with the opportunity to understand how Turnitin works, and to identify any aspects of their writing, including the use of evidence, that might require improvement.  Just over half (54%) of students used Turnitin to check the originality of their formative essay.  Of those students that did use Turnitin, nearly three quarters (74%) reported that they found it useful to be able to view their originality report.  For some students, this represented reassurance about their writing.  For other students, they found it useful to identify where their citing or quoting required improvement.  A third of students that used Turnitin subsequently made changes to their formative work after viewing the originality report.

As a teacher, in addition to helping students understand how to improve their writing, using Turnitin for formative work helps to demystify what Turnitin is, and how it works.  For many students, there is substantial anxiety about using Turnitin for summative work, and using it for formative work helps to familiarise students with Turnitin. 

Using Turnitin for formative work was a straightforward tool to help students better understand writing, quoting and citing.  It was followed by detailed individual written feedback on their individual answers, as usual.  This is the first time I have used Turnitin in this way.

I plan to use Turnitin for formative work in the future, but would probably spend a little more time explaining to students why they have this opportunity to use Turnitin formatively, and how they might benefit from using it.

Students participating in this assessment said that they would appreciate being able to do this on other courses, and reported:

“reassured me about plagiarism, can give you time to alter your essay”

“makes me more sure of my original answer”

“I found it helpful to check again before final submission.  It helped me to spot an error where I forgot quotation marks”