Improve Teaching and Learning

Faculty at Drexel University continue to tap the power of instructional technology with Turnitin,
which allows instructors to enhance learning, better manage writing assignments, improve workflow efficiencies,
and streamline the grading process.


Drexel University
Philadelphia, PA
Private University
26,000 Students

Introduction

In 1983, Drexel University's provost decided to require incoming freshmen to purchase Apple Macintosh computers. He saw the potential for technology as a writing tool. Nearly 30 years later, faculty continue to tap the power of instructional technology with Turnitin to enhance the learning and teaching of writing.

Benefits

Helps Students Develop and Refine Their Ideas

Dr. Valarie Arms is associate director of the freshman writing program. "We were seeing a lot of plagiarism," she reflects. "A consultant worked with me to create assignments that would help students understand how to develop ideas based on what they saw in print or heard during an interview and how to document and cite sources. But students still had problems. I heard about Turnitin. We decided to try it that year with two assignments we thought might lead students to plagiarize. We let students see the originality report so they could correct and resubmit their papers. It worked! We now require Turnitin with every assignment."

Helps Faculty Manage Workload and Streamlines Grading

Dr. Scott Warnock, director of Drexel's freshman writing program, has seen the positive impact on faculty time. "For a big writing program like ours," Warnock reports, "Turnitin prevents the most egregious case of plagiarism — handing in someone else's work. Ninety-nine and a half percent of students don't do this, but in a 2,000-person program, that means ten students do. Turnitin is great at catching that type of fraud and saving faculty from running around trying to find out who handed in whose work."

Dr. Jan Armon, a former lawyer who teaches freshman writing, finds Turnitin productive for managing writing assignments. Turnitin is integrated into Drexel's Blackboard Vista Enterprise Learning System, allowing for a paperless process. "During my first term I had piles of paper," said Armon. "It was inefficient. I had papers coming in rapidly and in high volume. I went to our IT department and asked for help. Now I use GradeMark® to enter my comments using icons I place on the draft electronically. I use Turnitin's originality report to understand how well students are using their sources. After students upload their final versions, I assign scores that flow into the grade book. That streamlines the last day of grading for me."

Impact

Faculty at Drexel are using Turnitin to enhance learning, to better manage writing assignments, and to improve efficiencies. "Turnitin helps me develop and document ideas and assignments," says Arms. "The originality checker allows me to focus on helping students to develop and refine ideas while providing them with another tool to get the attribution correct."

"Having papers accessible via Turnitin provides a number of advantages," says Armon. "I often work at home, but I don't want to download student papers onto my own computer. Having papers on Turnitin's server 'sanitizes' everything – it's worry free." Warnock agrees. "Turnitin is a great drop box. It takes away the paper shuffle," observes Warnock. "And, in view of the incredibly tight budgets being faced by educational institutions, Turnitin saves time and effort you might spend tracking down plagiarism. Coupled with smart assignment design, these tools can help us focus our energy on helping students write more effectively."