• Saving Time with GradeMark

    Here at Turnitin, we typically revolve around the world of writing, but today we're going to take a look at some basic mathematics. At the Turnitin User Event in Orlando in February, Beth Sawyer, a high school English instructor, gave a presentation on "Saving Time with GradeMark."

    Beth teaches 108 students in 5 classes. For a standard essay, she used to spend about 15 minutes per essay to read, evaluate, and grade:

    108 essays x 15 minutes = 1620 minutes = 27 hours.

    That's 27 hours outside of preparing and teaching her classes.

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  • Accidental Plagiarists

    20110126 accidentalplagiaristsThere is little doubt that a large part of plagiarism incidents are intentional attempts to cheat, perhaps an equal proportion of incidents stems from students that are uninformed or unaware of proper citation and plagiarism. According to an article in THE Journal, this idea is supported by many educators as well as new research concluding that increasing knowledge on plagiarism and citation is a more effective approach than punitive approaches.

    Heather Scott, a Turnitin power user and English teacher at Air Academy High School in Colorado, first turned to Turnitin to help identify potential plagiarism. She quickly found the key to reducing plagiarism in her classes was in providing feedback to the students. With GradeMark®, Scott is able to show students what they did wrong, how to correct it, why it is important, and reinforce it in future assignments. She has even found tremendous value and results from having students review other student papers with PeerMark. Read the entire article, "The Accidental Plagiarists" in THE Journal.

  • Technology Enhances Learning in Survey of 40K

    Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation published a report presenting the results of a national survey of 40,000 public school teachers from pre-K to 12th grade.
    The survey identified five broad solution areas to address the challenges facing schools today and to help ensure that all students achieve at their highest levels:

    1. Establish Clear Standards, Common Across States

    2. Use Multiple Measures to Evaluate Student Performance

    3. Innovate to Reach Today’s Students

    4. Accurately Measure Teacher Performance and Provide Non-Monetary Rewards

    5. Bridge School and Home to Raise Student Achievement
     

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  • Obama on Education Nation

    U.S. President Barack Obama participated in a live half-hour interview on NBC's TODAY show with Matt Lauer talking about education as part of the "Education Nation” summit. Watch the interview here:

    Read the transcript at: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/39378576/ns/today-parenting

    Some highlights from the interview:

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  • From Feedback to Features

    20100820 feedbackAs part of the Turnitin2 changes that will be launched on September 4th, 2010, we included many feature changes that were requested by users through our Feedback Forum. These requests included:

    A way to see the formatted paper in the Originality Report
    This is one of the key changes to the Originality Report for Turnitin2, all of the formatting from the student's paper will be preserved in the new report.

    A way to see the matches from the Originality Report in GradeMark
    This gets to the heart of the changes made in Turnitin2. The user can now see the services layered on top of one another. This allows users to see the Originality Report highlights while marking the paper in GradeMark.

    An easy way to see other potential sources for the matches in the Originality Report
    In the new Originality Report in Turnitin2, users will have the ability to select to "view additional sources" when they hover on a source in the Primary Source list (the list of sources in the default view of the report). This option will show all of the sources from the Turnitin databases that were found to match the highlighted section of text.

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  • New Strategies to Reduce Plagiarism

    "Curriculum redesign as a faculty-centred approach to plagiarism reduction is research paper published by Sue Hrasky and David Kronenberg from the University of Tasmania, presented at the 4th International Plagiarism Conference in June 2010.

    In it, they first look into two fundamental strategies on approaching plagiarism: proactively educate students on plagiarism, proper citation, and acceptable collaboration; and/or reactively catching and punishing instances of plagiarism. Both of these traditional approaches puts the onus of responsibility on the student. When an accusation of plagiarism occurs, the blame rests with the student rather than with the faculty or the institution.

     

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  • Can Students "Trick" Turnitin?

    Some students believe that they can "beat" Turnitin by employing various tactics. Instructors should rest assured that these tactics do not work as our algorithms take such "tricks" into account. In addition, the best practice for ensuring that students are not able to "beat the system" is to review all Originality Reports - regardless of the percentage shown as the Similarity Index. Instructors who look at the Originality Reports will be able to tell if something untoward has occurred.

    What tricks do students try?

    One trick is to replace a common character like "e" throughout the text of their paper with a foreign language character that looks like an "e" but is actually different (for example, a Cyrillic "e"). This method does not work because our algorithms replace such characters with the corresponding standard English character. The special character will still appear in the Originality Report; however, the word it is in will have been matched against words containing every character that looks like that character. This allows us to show you matches to words with both the special character and the standard character.

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  • Cheating: A Gray Area

    20100820 grayareaA new study from the University of Nebraska—Lincoln examines the prevalence and perceptions of cheating among high school students.

    Key findings of the study show:

    • 89 percent said glancing at someone else's answers during a test was cheating, but 87 percent said they had done that at least once.
    • 62 percent said doing individual take-home tests with a partner was cheating, but 51 percent said they'd done so.
    • 23 percent said doing individual homework with a partner was dishonest, but 91 percent had done so.

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  • Social Media in Higher Ed

    Over 80 percent of college faculty are using social media, according to a survey released by Babson Survey Research Group in collaboration with New Marketing Labs and Pearson Learning Solutions on May 4th, 2010. The study found that a majority of respondents (59%) said they have more than one social networking account and nearly 25 percent have four or more accounts. Thirty percent of respondents use social networks to communicate with students, and 1/3 use them to connect with peers.

    "College faculty have embraced social media and a majority have integrated some form of these tools into their teaching," said Jeff Seaman, Ph.D., co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group. "While some faculty remain skeptical, the overall opinion is quite positive, with faculty reporting that social media has value for teaching by over a four to one margin."

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  • Turnitin Teaches 21st Century Skills

    At the Virtual School Society Conference on April 22, 2010, we presented on "Improving Tomorrow’s Writers Today with Turnitin.” Given today’s global economy and the ever-evolving workplace, today’s students need to learn how to develop inquiry, collaborate effectively, think critically, solve problems, make decisions and exhibit technical proficiency. Instructors often struggle with finding a balance between teaching students mandatory course content while enhancing their students’ 21st century skills, especially if it requires technological savvy. Many instructors are skeptical of whether technology is really the answer to better preparing students for tomorrow or whether it is just another distraction from important instructional content. In our presentation, we illustrated how Turnitin can give instructors an opportunity to teach both content and skills while saving them time and increasing the amount and type of feedback on student writing.

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  • Turnitin Among Favorite eLearning ToolsTurnitin Among Favorite eLearning Tools

    20120725 elearnTurnitin's PeerMark and GradeMark tools are listed in eLearn Magazine's feature article "eLearning Tools for English Composition: 30 New Media Tools and Web Sites for Writing Teachers" by college compusition and literature instructor Keri Bjorklund. She writes:

    "Want to get students away from simply commenting on grammatical or punctuation errors? They can conduct in-depth peer reviews using Turnitin [which] provides peer review questions that link critical thinking skills with writing skills. You can even create your own questions and require a minimum word count for students. This keeps down the yes/no answers and forces them to think about the essay in front of them."

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