Online cheating: Is Turnitin enough?


Source: DNYUZ

Recently, North Hollywood High School bought Turnitin packages for teachers to use to detect online cheating/plagiarism. But how accurate is this tool?

 Many sources debate the merits of this service. Dr. Susan Schorn, the Writing Coordinator at the University of Texas, conducted results related to accuracy and found them to be “outright embarrassing.” Apparently, Google yields better results when checking for plagiarism, and this is not even one of its main functions. 

Source: Logo design lane

This brings up an even more significant issue: if plagiarism detection services such as Turnitin are failing to prevent students from copying online work, then can teachers keep them from cheating on assignments and successfully convey information? 

My simple answer, likely similar to many others, would be a solid no. Online learning vastly differs in that interactions between students and teachers significantly decrease. Mr. Hill aptly says “I do not think online provides the same rigor or results as classroom learning, due to paucity of student engagement and agency.”

 Students no longer have the need or will to participate in activities unless forced, and teachers are reluctant in forcing involvement. If there were students who actively tried to learn, perhaps this would create a different environment. But the expected number of people in this group is so sparse that I highly doubt this effect.

If students are unconcerned with class, why would they bother attempting the homework? The two most plausible outcomes are cheating in some way or not doing the work. And it is probably easy for students to achieve the former, as teachers do not impose restrictions regarding this action.

 Even when regulators attempt to monitor cheating, it still happens. From January through March, ProctorU found less than 1% of people cheating on administered exams and now the cheating has escalated above 8%. 

Maybe cheating isn’t the main focus. If students are consistently cheating and it is unable to cease, teachers should redirect their attention towards making sure students at least grasp the material. From personal experience, there are a large number of seventh graders in my brother’s geometry class who are failing the class.

 Previously, these students could have asked questions in class or somehow learned the information but now that everything’s online, they are finding it difficult to adjust because questions are anomalies in Zoom meetings. As mentioned, engagement has depreciated to all-time lows.

 A potential solution to solve the lack of communication could be conversations regarding not the coursework, but overall life. Teachers could have a day where they talk with each student about the problems that the pandemic has brought and how everyone is coping. Or have more breakout rooms where students are allowed to talk with each other. 

Though many solutions exist, I still find it largely improbable that any meaningful progress will be made. It’s been about five months since the pandemic and at least in my classes, there are four to five people with their cameras on and the rest (including myself) dwell in the abyss. Maybe this is senioritis. Maybe hybrid learning will help. There are just too many uncertainties regarding this dilemma but I can certify that the pandemic has drastically altered the school environment.