The ChronicleHerald.ca in Canada, reports that one school has accepted student objections and stopped using Turnitin.com, which is a program/database for detecting plagiarism. I use this software and Tulane subscribes to it. I think it is excellent and the objections raised, as explained in the story at least, are weak.
“Everyone has the right to learn in an environment that is free of guilt presumption and fear, and Turnitin.com does exactly what it shouldn’t be doing in a higher educational environment,” Ms. Brushett said. “It creates a culture of fear, it creates a culture of guilt and to me, that hinders some people from pursuing higher education and doing it with an open mind.
I just don’t understand this. How does it “create a culture of fear and guilt” to know that your professor is checking to make sure you aren’t plagiarizing? How does that hinder you in your education? I don’t see this as altering one’s work patterns or desires other than providing incentive (perhaps of a negative sort) to be sure to cite work properly.
I know that when I write and submit articles that the reviewers will certainly be aware of any plagiarism on my part and that this is the sort of thing that they are to be looking for. I never would plagiarize in the first place, but knowing that articles are reviewed by my peers does not hinder me in any other way than requiring me to make sure I have prepared and submitted a good paper that can withstand their scrutiny.
I have found the Turnitin.com to be a very useful tool that is unfortunately necessary in this era. I must say that Google is almost as useful, but the key of Turnitin is that it builds a database of submitted papers. Indeed, using their database I found a student using a paper written for one of my other classes (two years prior). I do not want to have to track down cheaters, but I believe that ignoring it and allowing it to continue will only make matters worse.
But professors also have a responsibility to get to know their students and to do their own homework to suss out the cheaters, Ms. Brushett said.
“We feel that Turnitin.com is a back-end approach. We need to promote academic integrity, we need to teach students what is plagiarism, what you should do, what you shouldn’t do and have more personalized ways of checking for plagiarism.
“I don’t think Turnitin.com is a necessary tool when it comes to teaching students.”
True, it is not a necessary tool for teaching students, but it has become all too necessary in grading students. I wish it were not so…