Formative feedback within plagiarism education: Is there a role for text-matching software?

Mary Davis, Jude Carroll


The need for effective education to enhance students' understanding and development of academic integrity has been well established, particularly for international students new to tertiary study in English-speaking countries. Most research recommends the use of methods such as instruction and warnings, as part of a plagiarism education programme. Few studies have looked at the role of formative feedback through tutorial intervention in the process of academic writing, in which use of the text-matching tool Turnitin is made in ways which support learning, rather than guide assessment. This study addresses that gap using data gathered over three years from cohorts of international students in the United Kingdom (UK) with regard to four identified areas of development: avoidance of plagiarism, decrease in over-reliance on some sources, correct use of citation and appropriate paraphrasing. Individual tutorials were held to give formative feedback on students' own writing, with particular regard to their use of sources. A supportive environment was created in which questions about references could be discussed, by using the Turnitin originality reports directly. The tutorial feedback appeared to have a positive effect on students' understanding of academic integrity reflected in improved drafts. This implies that tutorial feedback using Turnitin could be a key factor in plagiarism education. Recommendations for future use are given at the end of the study.

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