Over the last 10 years technology has advanced at an exponential rate and there have been several major developments the way mixed technologies are used at universities and indeed within society as a whole. (Gosper, M. et al. 2014).
One of the emerging practices in tertiary education as a whole is the way students submit assessments, by this I mean the use of Plagiarism Detection Software (PDS). In the good old days, the ways of detecting plagiarism involved the teacher having prior knowledge of the sources used by the student, in a way the feeling of ‘I have read this before’ in either a book or in another students work would mean that the teacher would need to dive into a mountain of paperwork to indeed find what they have read before (Goddard & Rudzki, 2005).
Students are studying in what we know now as the information age and search engines such as Google, Google Scholar, Jstor and Opus can provide an overwhelming amount of information. A study conducted by Alison Head and Michael Eisenberg found that students had difficulty figuring out if a source they used constituted plagiarism (Head, J. & Eisenberg, M., 2010)
So this leads me to 2 questions:
– How do students critically analyse and the apply information?
– How do I evaluate this tool and how will it improve my teaching practice?
Seek, Sense, Share
Student’s benefit from accessing the vast amount of information readily available to them via an Internet search however, students need to learn how to collect and interpret the data (Pahamov, 2014). So how do students, and we as a whole, critically assess information to validate and then re-use? Based on the principal of Personal Knowledge Mastery (PKM), we develop a set of processes to help make sense of our world, or in this case, information more effectively (Jarche, 2014). By seeking, students find out information that is up to date and meaningful within the criteria of which they are applying their information towards, however 61% of these students, according to Head and Eisenberg (2010) collaborate with friends or family members when they needed advice when sorting through information and then turn to their instructors to assist with qualifying the sources for their own work.
By sensing the information, students then personalise this information for their own use, they reflect upon the information and then apply and share to their own work (Jarche, 2014). Thus, students have made the decision about the approach towards sources of information they use, they have become more effective consumers of information and have become more critical when they make decisions about the resources they use. (Hancock, 1993)
Evaluating the PDS
Using Turnitin for the first time I encountered different percentage scores, the percentage scores indicate what is not the student’s own work, however, by quoting a reputable source, the students have the potential to do ‘good work in the world’ (Jarche, 2014) although this must still be scrutinized by a tool such as Turnitin.
Turnitin, to be honest, is a great tool. It is easy to use, easy to annotate and use the rubric. However, how do I evaluate this tool to improve my teaching practice?
These are the steps I will take to evaluate the way turnitin works and how students work is handled:
– Compare originality percentage scores among student papers
– Compare the sources of information among each assignment
– Identify how students are using the information within their work.
– Do I use ‘pre packaged’ comments?
– Do I use audio comments?
– What about revisions? How does turnitin handle the sources if the assignment already exists within the database?
– What are other staff members perceptions?
– Is there training and support available?
– Is there a specific way the institution wants me to use the software? (ie, comments, rubric layout etc)
So how will these steps in the evaluation process improve my teaching practices? Coming back to the PKM framework, it is my job to teach the students to become adept at filtering information (Jarche, 2014), they need to evaluate web content at a higher level than library/printed materials (Head, Eisenberg, 2010) , reinforcing that Wikipedia is not a scholarly source (even though it still manages to make an appearance in an at least one or two assignment each trimester).
Understanding how and where students obtain their information, how they use this information and recall it for other assessments is important to improve my teaching practice. Using a tool such as turnitin to assist with the processing of citations is important, while it won’t create apathy as the sources still need to be checked should academic misconduct occur, it does save time and reduces the workload in the scheme of things.
Hancock, V. E. (1993). Information Literacy for Lifelong Learning. ERIC Digest. Retrieved from: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED358870.pdf
Head, A .J., & Eisenberg, M.B., (2010). How College Students Evaluate and Use Information in the Digital Age. Retrieved from: http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED535166.pdf
Goddard, R. and Rudzki, R. (2005). Using an Electroic Text Matching Tool (Turnitin) to Detect Plagiarism in a New Zealand University, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 2(3). Retireved from: http://ro.uow.edu.au/jutlp/vol2/iss3/7
Gosper, M., McKenzie, J., Pizzica, J., Malfroy, J., Ashford-Rowe, K., (2014). Rhetoric and Reality: Critical perspectives on educational technology. Proceedings ascilite Dunedin. pp. 290 – 301 (11)
Jarche, H. (2014). The Sense, Share, Share Framework. Retrieved from: http://jarche.com/2014/02/the-seek-sense-share-framework/
Pahamov, L. (2014). Authenticating Learning in the Digital Age: Engaging Students Through Enquiry. Alexandra. Virginia: ASCD