Using Turnitin for Formative Feedback

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Using Turnitin for Formative Feedback

  • Karen Robins – May 2010

Aims of Session

  • Karen Robins
  • To be aware of the benefits of using Turnitin for formative feedback;
  • To be able to set up Turnitin for an assessment;
  • To interpret the Turnitin report;
    • To discuss good practice on use Turnitin for formative feedback;
    • To know where and what support is available - guide / video / workshop.

Why provide students with formative feedback from Turnitin?

    • To improve student academic writing by;
    • To improve the originality of student work;
    • To emphasise the importance of learning to paraphrase;
    • To improve students referencing skills;
    • To reduce accidental plagiarism;
    • Policy – all dissertations and projects to have opportunity to use Turnitin for formative feedback.
  • Karen Robins

Turnitin UK Plagiarism Detection

  • Karen Robins
  • Student work is compared against
  • Current and previous Internet sites
  • Published work form from periodicals, journals and databases.
  • Student assessment submitted to Turnitin from1996
  • Essays from cheat websites
  • Note – Turnitin does not find all sources (approximately 50%)

Using Turnitin for Formative Feedback

  • Module level
  • Student papers/assignments do not have to be written to the Turnitin database
    • Overwrite option – updates assignment, cannot see any previous versions
    • Draft option – shows draft and final versions
    • Revision – keeps all previous versions
    • 24 hour delay between each submission
  • School / Faculty
  • Institutional level
  • Dissertation and projects policy
  • May need to set Turnitin advanced settings so that assignments are not written to the Turnitin database
  • Karen Robins

Add a class in Turnitin (module)

  • Karen Robins
  • 1
  • 3
  • 2

Types of assignment

Advanced settings

  • Immediately - can overwrite until due date
  • Can set individual matches <1% or number of words
  • Allow students to see the originality reports

Overall Similarity Index

  • The overall similarity index colour coded, red indicates text matching in excess of 75%;
  • The report does not distinguish between properly referenced and unacknowledged work;
  • It is possible to exclude quoted material and bibliographies;
  • It is possible to exclude small matches as either a percentage or number of words;
  • If the student has previously submitted the same paper for another module, it will compare the latest submission with the previous submission.
  • Karen Robins

Interpreting theTurnitin Report

  • Karen Robins

Helping students interpret the Turnitin Report

  • Karen Robins
  • Is this student guilty of plagiarism with a similarity index of 20%
  • Could be considered as highly derivative.
  • What percentage is safe?
  • What should we tell students?

Turnitin Report

  • Collusion?

Enrolling students on Turnitin

    • Students can enrol themselves by creating a user profile and using your class ID and password OR
    • You can manually enrol your students by uploading 100 names at a time from an Excel file directly into Turnitin
  • Karen Robins

Good practice on use of Turnitin for formative feedback

    • Allow all new students to the University to use Turnitin for formative feedback;
    • Embed into a module on their programme (skills modules);
    • Give enough time for student to act on feedback;
    • Discuss the originality report with the student;
    • Staff to set up a tutorial/seminar exercise (class) on Turnitin (needs computer lab);
    • Request students submit to directly to Turnitin (and StudyNet);
    • Set up linked assessment for formative and summative exercise.
    • Given the option, not all students will take up the opportunity of formative feedback, need to build something into the assignment to encourage submission. e.g. Negative marks on summative piece.
  • Karen Robins

Supporting Students

  • Not enough to only inform students
  • Induction week, give referencing and research sessions for students;
  • Use Turnitin for a formative assignment;
  • Explain the originality report to students;
  • Put links to quizzes on plagiarism on programme and module sites (see IH resources);
  • Design out plagiarism – see ASKe handout.
  • Karen Robins
  • Using Turnitin to provide powerful formative feedback

Next steps

  • Provide a range of support for staff and students on using Turnitin;
  • Create a central provision on Turnitin for staff and students (Information Hertfordshire);
    • Information Hertfordshire website - Turnitin
  • Increase awareness and reduce fear of the technology for both staff and students.
  • Karen Robins

Plato – Plagiarism teaching online

  • Pricing – Higher Education:
  • Up to 5,000 FTE students: £800
  • 5000 to 10000 FTE students: £1200
  • 10000 to 20000 FTE students: £1500
  • Over 20000 FTE students: £2000
  • Individual user: £30
  • It can be hosted on your own VLE.
  • One-off payment with no subscription fees.
  • View screen movie
  • Http://
  • Or see it in action

Help available

  • Karen Robins
  • Instructor manuals and demos of Turnitin available at
  • TurnitinUK – User Manuals and Frequently Asked Questions (Instructor and student user guides)
  • Assessment Standards Knowledge exchange, free resource leaflets
  • Note: All staff need to be individually registered on Turnitin

Should Turnitin be available for all students for formative feedback on all their assignments. Open Access?

  • Karen Robins


  • JISC Internet Plagiarism Service
  • Plagiarism Advisory Service – Funded by JISC Turnitin UK Instructor FAQs
  • Mary Davis. (2007). Mary D. Available: Last accessed 23 June 2007
  • Karen Robins

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