Turnitin User Summit 2019

This was my first time attending the annual Turnitin User Summit and it gave me an opportunity to learn more about the latest products released. This was also an opportunity to find out if existing issues are being developed out the system.

To begin the conference Turnitin presented us with some statistics, as of November 2019:

  • Turnitin Services are used in over 169 countries
  • With over 29 million active users
  • 1,040,917,465 papers have been submitted

This reflects on how many institutions are now dependant on Turnitin for, plagiarism detection, integrity checking, marking and grading.

They Road map for Turnitin focuses on improving the current product as well as the release of two new products, including Gradescope and the Authorship tool.

Focusing on delivering 99.9% non-degraded service and uptime, they are continuing to improve text similarity by adding citations, mosaic plagiarism, formative solutions and image support. By adopting a colour code red: exact match, amber: synonym replacement and green for unique or no matches. Turnitin are continuing to infuse our academic integrity solutions for text similarity, authorship, code similarity, grading and the feedback AI.

Turnitin aim to improve their customer service by, developing a tech support portal for administrators, this will allow administrators to monitor their cases raised with Turnitin. They hope to introduce an area for self-service, a place where users can find their own solutions.

They aim to frequently update their status page to announce system maintenance and are planning to provide an RSS feed for the latest release notes.

Gradescope is aimed at STEM subjects, subjects where the marking workflows are based around short-answer exams and in-class assessments, for maths, physics and computing.

How does Gradescope work? Each question has its own rubric, the rubric stays the same for each student answer so you can mark each student quickly and fairly. Incorrect answers can be deducted points and explained where marks where lost. The key attribute with Gradescope is the rubric evolves while marking a range of correct and incorrect answers for one question. Therefore, every grader uses the same rubric and every grader can change or add to the rubric.

The grader can update the rubric, by adding or removing rubric items which contribute to the answers. Whenever you make changes to the rubric it automatically applies the changes to the answers you have already created.

This allows for a consistent and flexible grading workflow. Along with Gradescope you can see the common mistakes made by students on every question, grades can be downloaded and placed into the Grade Centre and grades can be easily sent to each student via email.

The Gradescope tool offers a lot of promise, for STEM based courses it provides clearer feedback to each student, for the instructor it provides a seamless path to grade and work with an evolving rubric, to ease modifying the grading process. “Turning grading into Learning”.

Authorship Tool

Contract cheating represents a clear threat to providers’ ability to assure the standards of their qualifications, and as such to the reputation of UK HE as a whole. Although student plagiarism and ghost writing have been longstanding aspects of academic misconduct, the recent growth of third parties offering to help students to cheat has raised serious concerns in the sector”

Contract cheating, the use of a third party to help complete an assignment.

  • 16% of students admit to paying a third party to complete their work
  • 67% of instructors say they may not ac on suspicions of contract cheating due to insufficient evidence to support their claims.
  • 10% decline in number of university applications an institution receives following a scandal.

Turnitin’s new Authorship tool analyses submissions to help validate suspicions of contract cheating and allows investigators to gather facts, collect information and make impartial judgements.

  1. Allows you to see the data to evaluate suspicions: View document forensics and metadata that might signal contract cheating, turning gut instincts into actionable insights.
  2. Save time on investigations: Collect a complete history of students past assignments and identify outliers in minutes, not hours. Eg comparing the students writing style.
  3. User forensic linguistic analysis and Natural Language Processing to determine whether a student has submitted someone else’s work as their own.
  4. Surface deep insights and data points to support investigation processes and uphold your institutions quality standards when potential contract cheating occurs.

Turnitin combines this data and then allows the instructor to evaluate any concern and to decide on whether to conduct a further investigation. While the Authorship tool in Turnitin identifies the need for investigation, its the instructor that makes the final decision.

Overall, I found the Turnitin User Summit a useful conference to attend. They are making good progress in trying to improve their customer support and are listening to some of the feedback provided by the community. They are taking into consideration the student and instructor workflows to help provide useful feedback, while continually providing new and innovative ways in detecting similarities in papers and improving the depth of feedback.

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