For whom is the feedback intended? A student-focused critical analysis of turnitin software as a tool for learning
Earle Derek Abrahamson 1 * , Jonathan Mann 1
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1 University of East London
* Corresponding Author


Online systems like Turnitin have been identified as way to improve the quality of work that students submit. Related to this, recent studies concerned with Turnitin have foregrounded its capacity as an educative tool that improves students’ understanding of academic misconduct. Academic writing, and the ability of students to appreciate feedback as a significant component of learning is often hidden behind the technological platform of Turnitin. In many cases Turnitin is conceived as software used to detect dishonesty and frame students for inappropriate citation, or misuse of referencing. We seek to address this, by examining more the pedagogical value of online feedback systems in the context of widening participation and TEF. Significantly expanding the discussion beyond plagiarism, taking a genre-based approach, and positioning both academic writing and Turnitin/feedback within the context of academic literacies, this paper intervenes with current debates. The case study draws on qualitative data recorded from students, tutors, and the Turnitin software system. By doing so, insights are generated into best software practice that have profound implications for HEIs, most especially those with widening participation agendas. Based on these data, the study provides a series of practical software development recommendations to help raise standards amongst student writing.



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