How can universities ensure integrity when assessing remotely?

Integrity is at the heart of education and educators need to trust student work is original to ensure grades are truly earned


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With more educational institutions moving to online instruction and assessment, which has been accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, the challenge teachers, administrators and leadership teams now face is finding ways to uphold academic integrity and trust. This is where technology can help.

Tackling misconduct in the digital age

As many as one in seven students across the world could be involved in contract cheating, according to research from Swansea University. In response, the Quality Assurance Agency has published new guidance for higher education providers around protecting academic integrity and tackling the use of essay mills, urging institutions to design assessment systems in a way that reduces opportunities for contract cheating.

Cees Poortman, regional vice president, Europe, Middle East and Africa, at the global education technology provider Turnitin, is passionate about giving education institutions the tools they need in the modern learning environment.

The challenge teachers, administrators and leadership teams face now is finding ways to uphold academic integrity and trust

“Today’s schools, colleges and universities are operating in a world that’s almost unrecognisable from the time Turnitin was established over 20 years ago. The explosion in online essay mills and other advanced methods of cheating, and the incredible pressure students experience to succeed, has forced institutions to evolve accordingly,” he says.

“That’s where online learning tools as offered by Turnitin have a crucial role for students, educators and institutions as a whole, protecting the highest standards of academic integrity and supporting a fair and efficient assessment journey in the modern learning environment.”

Using online tools to uphold academic integrity

Turnitin’s online learning tools are specifically designed to support institutions in upholding academic integrity. This August saw the launch of Turnitin Originality, which offers more detailed and in-depth data than ever before, giving students, educators and institutions the insight they need to uphold academic integrity, prevent contract cheating and support the entire learning journey.

“From speaking with schools, colleges and universities, we knew there was a need to go beyond mere plagiarism checking, and provide a whole suite of comprehensive tools to support teaching students the value of original thinking skills,” says Poortman, explaining the development process behind Turnitin Originality.

“Especially as more institutions move to online instruction, they will unfortunately face an increase in academic misconduct. This requires the ability to identify the full range of potential misconduct, providing feedback in one tool so discussions around academic integrity become teachable moments, rather than punitive ones.”

Moving from preventative to proactive

To counteract the threat of academic misconduct, Turnitin Originality equips institutions with formative learning tools that provide the opportunity to check for similarity and grammar, and find missing citations before submission, ensuring content is refined and ideas and concepts are original and fully thought out.

Through other new features, such as computer code plagiarism detection, text manipulation identification and forensic authorship reporting, Turnitin Originality is ideally placed to help institutions directly address issues such as code similarity and contract cheating.

With Gradescope, Turnitin is also taking an innovative approach to enhance the formative assessment process in science, technology, engineering and maths, or STEM, subjects. By digitising paper-based assignments, Gradescope provides detailed data to identify student trends and uses artificial intelligence-assisted grading to provide both a fair evaluation as well as the most efficient assessment and grading process.

By using Turnitin, educators can feel confident that students are truly engaging with their learning, upholding academic integrity and developing original thinking skills. Integrating academic integrity across the entire learning journey has become more important than ever; Turnitin is ready to help universities rise to the challenge in the most effective and efficient way.

Institutions seeking to learn more abo ut the role of education technology in assessing student success, upholding academic integrity and supporting original thinking should visit www.turnitin.com for more information. Try Gradescope for free until the end of 2020 by visiting www.gradescope.com