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Turnitin: FAQs



How do I activate the Turnitin tool in SacCT?
  1. Login to SacCT and go into your course where your role is an Instructor.
  2. In the lower left, click Customization.
  3. Click the Tool Availability link.
  4. Scroll down to the row for "Turnitin Direct Assignment."
  5. Click in the box in the last column to place a check in it.
  6. Click Submit.
  7. The Turnitin tool is now available from any Content Area or Learning Module in your course via the Assessments button (when the Edit mode is On).

What is it not good for?
Although this is dubbed a plagiarism detector, Turnitin does not discern properly cited material. Just because there is a high report number of unoriginal content does not necessarily mean that plagiarism has occurred.

When looking at the originality report the colors act as a guide. For example, a research paper that requires outside sources should expect a report ranging green to orange to yellow. A report that had blue could mean that not enough sources were used. Red could indicate that too many source materials were used. The interpretation of these color codes should shift depending on the expected originality of the work in question, with variation across different forms of written expression. Compare for instance expository or creative writing with mostly unique passages with a persuasive or scientific essay which may build extensively on the ideas and words of prior authors and publications.

Nonetheless, these colors provide a visual for instructors and students to get a quick source material overview. It allows both students and instructors to keep track of source material used and allows for easier identification in the paper so that they may check to the author has properly cited prior work.
What are some benefits?
Turnitin is a great tool because it allows instructors to look at trends amongst their students and address citation needs. It also tends to be a good deterrent for those few students who might copy and paste a lot.

Turnitin also allows for a quick visual guide for improper citations by too heavily relying on them or unattributed copy and paste source material. This helps both students and instructors to gauge content without having to focusing on whether or not source material is used. It helps create teachable moments for instructors: the use of source material, how much to use, when to use it and best practices in drawing from experts in a designated field of study.
What are good types of assignments to use with this tool?
Turnitin is best used for written assignments in any discipline that requires the use of resources.
How does one best manage this product to not get overwhelmed?
Remember, this is a tool. The numbers of highlighted source materials are not absolute, so they can't be relied upon as a final evaluation of the work. The numbers are just a guide. Too low or too high of number generally mean that sources are not being used correctly. A mid-range of numbers should be expected for any paper that requires outside sources. Use the numbers, the source listing and remember that students are still learning how to properly cite. If there is a high trend of incorrect citation, this is a good time to review in class how to properly cite the work.

The tool will take some getting used to and has many capabilities. Support is available for troubleshooting, questions that arise or consolation on best practices.

This tool was not entirely meant to be a policing tool to hunt down and catch cheaters. Instead, consider using this system more as a guide to help encourage students to review their work for validity. Instructors can use the tool as a quick guide to make sure citations are being properly recorded.
Does the grammar and spelling checker happen automatically?
The grammar and spelling checker (e-rater) DOES NOT happen automatically. After the instructor has enabled the function in the assignment settings, the instructor MUSt open each student's submitted paper and click the button to view the e-rater tool. This action then enables the student to view his/her submitted paper with the grammar and spelling checker activated.
Can I use groups with PeerMark in a Turnitin assignment?
Groups CANNOT be used with the PeerMark feature for a Turnitin assignment. Although you can limit a Turnitin assignment to a group, the PeerMark feature distributes submissions to all students in the course and not just the group members who submitted papers.

Note: Content on this webpage adapted with permission from Michigan State University's "Improving Student Writing: Feedback, Peer Review & Proper Citation" (as of 08/07/2013). (

Last updated: November 14, 2016   



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