Success Story: Shakopee Junior High School, Minnesota
Susan Marsh is a ninth grade civics and human geography teacher at Shakopee Junior High School (SJHS). Located in Shakopee, MN in the Shakopee School District, SJHS serves about 1,000 students. All students attending SJHS participate in the Saber Pause Program, where students meet with an advisor each day for fifteen minutes to work on character.
Like many teachers, Marsh has spent an overwhelming amount of time researching papers for plagiarism. She has spent three to five hours for each assignment running student's papers through Google, looking for plagiarized material. Marsh says, "The amount of plagiarism at SJHS was at a disheartening level and very time consuming."
To help reduce cheating, SJHS now uses Turnitin. SJHS teaches writing across the curricula, giving students ample practice before advancing grade levels. In social studies, they emphasize the five paragraph expository essay in order to better prepare students for the AP U.S. History exam, combined with the topic they are teaching. For example, when students learn about the Bill of Rights, Marsh asks students to exam one of the amendments and write about why it is important, giving examples in history of where it has helped our country be free. "Turnitin.com has forced students to type their essays and to think more carefully about plagiarizing," says Marsh. "It organizes all of their papers online so we don't waste paper by printing them out."
Turnitin has drastically cut back on the grading time for Marsh. Now that her student's papers are checked against the database, she does not need to spend the time matching them up on Google. Although many of Marsh's students were frustrated with Turnitin at first, they like how they cannot lose their work or forget it at home the day it is due. Turnitin has forced her students to think more carefully about plagiarizing and proper citation. "Turnitin has transformed the way our students are learning the writing process. They take it more seriously and cannot just simply scribble something on the paper. It feels more grown up for them."