This paper describes an initiative at a University in the west
of Ireland to use Turnitin with large class sizes to support student
writing. The Centre for Learning and Teaching is a central unit within
the University, responsible for a wide range of activities. In
particular, we provide support to academic staff on good practice in the
use of technology for teaching, learning and assessment.
Here we describe a pilot study involving 3 case studies across 3
disciplines in the College of Arts and Social Sciences. These case
studies involve large student groups, from 120 to 600 students, and
address the use of Turnitin to support student writing and offer
formative feedback, rather than focus purely on plagiarism detection.
In embarking on this initiative, we had a number of questions to be
answered. Given a shift in focus from policy, procedures, detection and
penalties, can Turnitin be effectively used to support learning and
teaching? In particular, is it possible to use the service to support
teaching of large students groups? And can this be done in a formative
manner, to support student writing? Further, what are the implications
for teaching teams in terms of administrative overhead, and for our
Centre in terms of academic staff development, training and support?
Turnitin was found to be a useful teaching tool, and to support
teaching teams in their assessment practices. Moreover, when students
are given direct access to their originality reports on draft
submission, accompanied by support from tutors, student writing is