At Bucknell, we subscribe to the TurnItIn anti-plagiarism service that allows us to check student essays for originality. TurnItIn is integrated with Moodle and has both a "before-the-fact" and "after-the-fact" mechanism for checking student essays for originality
If you want to discourage students from submitting work that has been copied from other sources without proper citation or credit, you can create a "Turnitin Assignment" in your Moodle course. Students in the course submit their essays via that assignment, and all student submissions are checked against a database consisting of publicly available sources, other work submitted by Bucknell students, and essays submitted by students at other universities that license TurnItIn. TurnItIn produces an "originality score" that indicates what percentage of the submitted document appears to copy language from other sources. Since sentences that students actually quoted (and attributed correctly) can appear to be matches, a matching score in the low teens is not necessarily problematic, but matching scores higher than that would warrant closer analysis. TurnItIn provides specific comparisons between the language in the student essay and the language in the pre-existing source, allowing faculty members to determine if inappropriate copying has occurred.
Although we recommend the "before-the-fact" approach we described just above, if faculty members don't want all student submissions for a particular assignment to be checked for originality, the faculty member can use an "after-the-fact" approach, submitting an individual student essay that arouses suspicion to TurnItIn. S/he will need an electronic copy of the essay, preferably a Word file or a PDF file with a text layer added (via OCR). To submit an individual student essay (or essays), faculty members need to create a TurnItIn assignment in a Moodle course, hide the assignment from students, and then submit the suspicious student essay(s) to TurnItIn via the hidden assignment. The submissions will generate an originality report within 30 minutes after the essay is submitted, which the faculty member can review.
Please contact ITEC if you have any questions about using SafeAssign or TurnItIn to detect student plagiarism.
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