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Teaching Ethics


published on September 10, 2020

Andrew Pavelich

The Moral Hazards of Using Turnitin as a Learning Tool

Plagiarism detection service like Turnitin can be powerful tools to help faculty evaluate whether a student’s paper is plagiarized. But there’s another side to Turnitin: The service promotes itself as a way to help teach students how to avoid plagiarism. I argue that the use of plagiarism detection services as learning tools actually contributes to the problem of plagiarism, by encouraging the idea that original papers are the goal of a class, instead of instruments to assess a student’s ability to understand the class material. In addition, giving students access to the very tool that professors use to evaluate the authenticity of a paper allows students to use the tool to intentionally plagiarize in a way that passes the test. While plagiarism-detection services can help professors investigate suspected acts of plagiarism, they should not be used as a tool to teach students how to write papers.

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