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  • Writer's pictureCATHERINE DIECKMAN '17

The Infamous Fact Checker

You have submitted assignments through this program. Your teachers use this program. This program ensures that your facts are creatively your own. What’s the name of this program? Turn-It-In.

Turn-It-In is a program used by various academic departments to check for the presence of plagiarism. While this program may be used more often by certain academic departments, Ms. Meyer notes that “it is a useful tool to use for learning how to cite and how to avoid plagiarism.” There is sometimes second-guessing in the creative process when students do assignments, but this program verifies if students copied any information from textbooks or online sources.

As known by many students, Ms. Meyer relayed that “the primary users of this program are the literature teachers who use Turn-It-In very well.” In fact, Turn-It-In’s slogan is to improve the writing skills of students. Through its use in the English department, students become familiarized with the important skills that entail writing a research-based paper. Dr. Jones '90, teacher of CP British Literature and AP English Literature, stated that she “uses Turnitin on a daily basis for most assignments.” In her 17 years at SUA, she believes that this limits cheating and the program demands students complete their own academic work. "That's where even more learning can happen, often outside of the classroom." And the program helps students become aware of MLA citations. “The most important assignment to check for plagiarism through Turn-It-In would be the essays,” Dr. Jones said.

Apart from literature essays, assignments from the science and mathematics departments are not useful to check through Turn-It-In. Mr. Porter, one of the biology teachers, does not find this program useful for his courses. “The only assignment I could use Turn-It-In for would be lab reports because of similar experiments that are answered online. Otherwise, most of the information in biology is fact with no room for variation,” he stated. Similar to the science department, the math department does not use this program often. Mrs. Depoe, department head, believes that “math is made up of similar formulas and equations, so this program would say that everything is plagiarized.” Every student’s answer should technically be the same, so this program is immaterial to math courses.

In the foreign language department, the use of Turn-It-In seems to fall with the math and science departments: not used often. Ms. Kuhn, French and Info-Tech teacher, stated that her topics often change from year to year, so no essays written in past years would be similar in nature to those written more recently.

While the Religion and History departments have a few writing assignments in their courses, teachers from those departments use Turn-It-In minimally. Ms. Thomas, a religion teacher for sophomores through seniors, states that she only uses this program for her final essay. She believes that “it helps students to double check their citations, therefore stopping cheating from happening.” Mrs. Mollaun, Social Studies department chair, has never used this program; in fact, most of the history department does not use this program. Social studies courses are often more fact-based, meaning that their assignments are very similar to items posted online.

The use of this program changes based on the academic departments and their needs. Students also see the benefits of varied use by department. Abby Kelly ’16 agrees that “there are certain ways to word things like definitions, scientific facts, etc. that make it hard to be different from posts online.” She did note, however, that several assignments, like literature essays, should be checked through this program because this will prohibit students from cheating.

Though many teachers from different subject areas do not use Turn-It-In, it is a viable program for courses such as English that helps prepare students for essay writing in college, especially with research essays. While some colleges do use programs like Turn-It-In for checking plagiarism, most colleges will hold students accountable for being academically honest and unique in their words. As Ms. Meyer said, “Turn-It-In gives students the chance to be creative in their writing, and it prepares them to write successfully in their futures.”

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