Some at the Teaching Center share a hesitant view of Turnitin. Cressida Magaro, manager of Educational Software Consulting, the unit that principally supports Turnitin at Pitt.
The developers of Turnitin claim the software to be the “leading academic plagiarism detector used by teachers and students to avoid plagiarism and ensure academic integrity.
Turnitin does not itself address the issues that give rise to academic integrity problems, so it doesn’t correct those problems, instead potentially leaving students with the bad feeling that they are suspected of cheating at the very outset of a course or with the sense that their work product is being used against them and
The software is being used by over 15,000 institutions and 30 million students worldwide. Among its features include similarity checking, online feedback, rubric grading, and a revision assistant.
Turnitin has faced lawsuits brought by groups alleging that students’ intellectual property rights to their material were violated when Turnitin added those submissions to their ever-growing database.
In every case, however, Turnitin has prevailed on fair use grounds. Yet for Magaro, this still raises some ethical questions for potential users to consider: Should student work be subjected to similarity review through Turnitin as a matter of routine without any prior indication that plagiarism might be a concern?