Revolution Lullabye

May 18, 2009

Emerson, Plagiarism, a Turnitin Trial, and an Experience of Cultural Disorientation

Emerson, Lisa. “Plagiarism, a Turnitin Trial, and an Experience of Cultural Disorientation.” In Originality, Imitation, and Plagiarism. Eds. Eisner and Vicinus. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2008. 183-194.

Emerson, a writing professor at Massey University (New Zealand), was part of a trial of the Turnitin software at her institution and argues two points. First, Turnitin is a useful tool for teachers to use only if they are ready and equip to interpret the findings of the reports to create pedagogical solutions and outcomes. Second, students learn how to avoid plagiarism and practice citation best through individual conferences with teachers – more than through the fear of punishment (ratted out by Turnitin) or classroom lessons on citation systems. Individualized pedagogy is key for student learning about citation, and compositionists need to take the lead in universities that adopt Turnitin.

Quotable Quotes

If teachers aren’t interpreting and using Turnitin pedagogically: “Turnitin becomes a blunt instrument to accuse those of struggling to grasp a complex intellectual skill of moral failure – with huge repercussions for those students” (190).

Notable Notes

likens tipping rules (which vary country by country) to learning the intricacies of the academic citation system

problem with treating all students as potential cheaters by running them through Turnitin

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