Formative use of Turnitin reports for academic writing skills development - MicroCPD Transcription

The recent shift towards online assessments provide a fresh emphasis on the need for effective teaching of academic integrity (AI) on undergraduate courses. Research shows that student academic integrity develops most effectively when learning takes place in a culture that fosters a positive attitude towards AI, where tutors provide exemplars of good practice, and new undergraduates develop their skills through formative assessments and supportive interactions with tutors.   

However this support is provided, be it via existing tutorial sessions, or new activities within the Assessment Support Week, a key ingredient for a positive climate is the provision of interactions where supportive tutors discuss how they apply AI in their work, and where students receive constructive feedback on their first efforts to produce university level work. 

The University of Birmingham currently uses Turnitin to identify plagiarism in student work. Although this approach allows training to be targeted to those students who most need it, the threat of detection and possible sanctions, while necessary, do little to encourage the positive AI climate which many recognise as an essential ingredient in effective learning.  

Turnitin may also be used in more positive ways to support student learning in the early stages of undergraduate education. Notably, tutorial discussions around originality reports from formative assessments can provide a valuable form of feedback. By identifying faults in student writing, and encouraging reflection on skills, such as the use of sources and accurate citation, these tutorials provide a space where student are able to appreciate their progress in understanding academic conventions and applying them to their work.