New Turnitin Feature to Help Students Improve Writing

I imagine most of you are familiar with Turnitin. I know I am. Most of my professors required students to submit papers via Turnitin before handing it in in class. The service is used to see if papers are original or plagiarized.

Now they’ve added Revision Assistant. It gives students feedback on several different aspects of their papers and encourages multiple revisions. I remember most professors didn’t even allow students to see their own originality report, so this is a great step forward. But I’m not sure how it’ll work. I mean, it’s obviously automated in some way, which does make me a bit nervous about it. But even automated feedback (if it’s done properly) is better than no feedback. So long as everyone isn’t getting the same feedback on every paper.

Have you used Turnitin in the past? Do you think this new tool will help students improve their writing?

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9 thoughts on “New Turnitin Feature to Help Students Improve Writing

  1. Revision assistant will be as good as they programmed it to be. If you’ve used the feature in Word that checks grammar and syntax, I assume RA will be similar to it and provide the same automatic advice. Word can be brutal, and sometimes it’s wrong, but often it’s right on. It hates contractions which is fine for papers, not so good for story dialogue. All the characters use contractions because that’s how people speak. 😀

    You ought to take a look at the pilot study paper they offer there. That’ll tell you how they made some conclusions (that 11 drafts = 1 point out of 4 improvement in grading). And I suppose another way to test it is simply to try it.

    Any tool that informs and scaffolds the student is going to improve the end result. This appears to perform that function. Since students are using it anyway to check for plagiarism, it’s an easy transition to use it for editing.

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    • I actually never used any program or tool to help with my papers. I was kind of cocky writing them. More than 90% of my essays in college (30-40) were written during the early morning hours of their due date. I came to understand exactly what professors wanted and I gave it to them as well as any other student. I only say it like that because they’d always tell me to pursue writing after school. And I rarely scored below a 95. That isn’t to say the papers were perfect, I just don’t have experience with Word for feedback or editing. I also don’t know what you mean about 11 drafts. Do you mean 11 drafts of a paper before it’s turned in? I can’t imagine doing that on a 6-10 page essay. BUT the best paper I ever wrote was on the relationship between IQ and the Death Penalty in America, and there were multiple drafts for that one because it was the combination of several papers. But long story short, I think the new feature will help plenty of students.

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      • The revision assistant splash page extolling the joys of that particular program were saying that students using RA were doing an average of 11 more revisions, and that this was raising their grade a full 25%. I’m not sure what, exactly, they’d be revising 11 times, but maybe the first draft was awful, and maybe they’re not good at writing. Thus, boom, 11 drafts later and they’re churning out C work.

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      • Hahahaha oh geez. I don’t know.

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  2. In my experience, so many students plagiarize, but can’t even plagiarize well. My favorite example was a student who so obviously copied and pasted. He swore it was his own work. Then I drew his attention to the blue hyperlink. Unbelievable. So I don’t think many will avail themselves of any writing tool.

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    • Right. My favorite professor never used it because he’d always know in a second. I guess I don’t know if students will take advantage of it.

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      • I’m sure some do, but for a good student that takes extra time when proofreading should work as well. I don’t know. I was a good student and am an English teacher now. But I used Cliff Notes sometimes in college when the amount of reading required was impossible to do. My first tri-semester in college was 10 weeks. I had 25 books to read in my Spanish Literature class and 22 in English Literature. I love to read but that’s impossible if you ever sleep. I read almost everything, but used Cliff Notes a couple of times. I still read parts of those books so I’d get a feel for the author. But I was highly motivated. And that was college. Not that many high school kids are highly motivated. And those that turn to websites for help usually are cutting corners so much that they screw up.

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      • Wait, 25 and 22 books in a semester? Are you sure? I didn’t attend a major university, but I did take all of my literature and English courses with an Ivy League educated professor and he’d assign maybe 8 or 9 if I can remember correctly. If I was ever assigned that many books I’d have spoken with the Dean immediately. Like you said, it’s impossible. Especially with work and five other classes to worry about.

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      • Thanks to the trimester system, we had three content classes each trimester. But in a compressed time. My statement was a fact. My degree is in Romance Languages, so every course I took in Spanish was in literature. And our required first English course was literature. You’re right, though. A ridiculous amount of reading. I’m a fast reader, but I read much more slowly in Spanish. Plus, I needed to carve out time for partying. Shhhhhh……..

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