Marissa Levy

Regular Training Sessions on Turnitin Supports Deeper Adoption and Use

Marissa Levy, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice
Richard Stockton College


By delivering training sessions and recording them, Marissa Levy is able to demonstrate her success with Turnitin to colleagues and thus gain broader adoption across Stockton College.

Turnitin: Welcome to the Turnitin Educator Spotlight Series, I’m Ray Huang. I’m joined today by Marissa Levy, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and an MVP honorable mention for the Turnitin All-Stars award program. Marissa let's start by telling us about your experience with Turnitin?

M.L.: My name is Marissa Levy, and I'm an associate professor of criminal justice at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, and I've been using Turnitin for probably six years or so at least and then more recently the GradeMark feature in Turnitin.

I'm not just using it to make it easier on myself, but really I think it's a tool that students are valuing. In fact the students have found—in classes I've taught in using it and not using it—that they are much happier with their progression of their grade by using Turnitin.
Marissa Levy, Richard Stockton College

Turnitin: And how long have you been using Turnitin’s grading features?

M.L.: I think it came out in the spring two years ago and then that summer is the first time I used it.

Turnitin: So let’s talk about your progression through Turnitin?

M.L.: I teach an online class, and I started using it in my online class. Stockton College is a liberal arts school. So, we have to teach in general studies as well as in our program. And so in the general studies curriculum I teach a class called Crime as a Social Construct, and in that class. It's an online class and so during that class, students have to submit three papers. We used to use a very cumbersome process in online classes for students to submit papers, so Turnitin was great, because I could have students submit it to Turnitin and then I could—at that time there was no GradeMark—so I could download the papers, grade them using Word or some other word processing program and then upload them back to the students.

Turnitin: So then enter GradeMark, how did that change your workflow?

M.L.: GradeMark was just plain awesome, because not only was I able to check for plagiarism and originality, but I no longer had to download the papers, grade them in another word processing program and then upload them. I was able just to--by switching over to a new tab—after I checked for plagiarism and originality—I could use the GradeMark feature to not only grade using the ETS(r) comments, but also grade using the comments that I used specifically for my class.

And that opened up a whole new world for me in grading, because not only did I use it in my online class where it was also very helpful to return documentation and comments to the students, but also in my face-to-face courses. I could use this for students who submit their papers online, and then they would get rich feedback from the auto-generated comments in ETS and then comments from me--content specific comments--on their paper.

Turnitin: What are some of the benefits you've experienced with Turnitin?

M.L.: Well, I think at first the biggest benefit was the ability for me to create drafts for the students—an area for them to submit drafts—and what I would do is go on and would have a submission deadline for the draft, and the students would upload their papers. I would look at the papers, but really peripherally not really for content, and I would allow the ETS automatically-generated comments to address all of the writing errors. Then, I would submit that back to the students and would post those comments to them.

They could go in. They could look at all of the ETS generated comments on the draft, without really much time and effort from me--simply clicking through, looking at basic things...maybe it would take half an hour. Then they would be able to go fix all of those things, submit it to the final area for me to review. And now they have taken care of all of the grammar, writing, punctuation, style errors, before I really had to even read it and spend time evaluating. Now I could focus mostly on the content, and if there were still writing errors I could still easily click and then drag and drop the ETS comments or my own comments about the writing.

Turnitin: So they’ve been able to do more drafts with you having to do a little less interaction upfront, allowing you to focus on content versus writing mechanics and grammar….You’re a criminal justice professor and not so much an English instructor, but you obviously want a well-written paper.

M.L.: Right. My class is a writing class in that they have to demonstrate a progression in their writing, but it's content based. It's not supposed to be a writing instruction class. They're supposed to be able to focus on the content.

Turnitin: So, you participated in a pilot program for Turnitin’s grading features. Tell us about that.

M.L.: We did it that summer right after it was released. And then I reported back to my colleagues to say how fantastic I thought it was in terms of time saving but also providing much more rich feedback to the students.

Turnitin: So based on your feedback and recommendation, the school went on to adopt the grading features. Since then, what have you done to help encourage the use of Turnitin by your colleagues?

M.L.: So every semester--for probably three or four semesters--we've had a discussion about how to use Turnitin and how to use GradeMark when it's appropriate. We've had a lot of debates at the college about the best way to use it—as a teaching tool as opposed to an, “I gotcha, you plagiarized.” And really, the GradeMark feature has enhanced the ability for us to not use it as an “I gotcha” but really using it as a teaching and a writing tool. So, the first few debates we had at the school were really people trying to figure out how best to use the general Turnitin originality feature in their classes. Now for the past three semesters, every semester I've given a presentation on how I use Turnitin: on how I use the GradeMark feature, on how I use my toolbox and how to put comments into the tool box, and really helping faculty on the small details about how to make it a big time saver and to give students better feedback.

Turnitin: Are these face-to-face or online sessions?

M.L.: They are live sessions. The last couple have been recorded and sent out to the faculty at large, so that they could watch it if they weren’t able to make it to the live session.

Turnitin: Beyond those trainings do some of your colleagues come up and ask you for your help or tips on using Turnitin?

M.L.: Yeah absolutely. In fact the last video that I did I had talked a little bit about the voice comments feature in GradeMark. And I didn't go into much depth about it, because I didn't demo it during the live session. But afterwards, I had two or three people who had emailed me and said, “Tell me more about these voice comments. What can I do with them?” And I explained to them that I can make these comments immediately on the paper by using the drop and drag or writing right on the text. And I can also leave the students a note on the side. This is a summary of how their paper looks and things they need to focus on. But then, I can also give a voice comment which provides so much context. Sometimes in writing it might come across as I'm yelling at them or I'm saying, “You really need to improve this,” and, “This isn't that great,” because I highlighted so many things that need changes. But then, I can give them a voice comment that says, “Yeah, you did have some problems with this, but look how much improvement you made over the last one and how much more improvement I'm expecting on the next one.” And so that voice comment is just terrific, because it really allows me to provide some context to the writing where sometimes the meaning can get lost and the tone can be misconveyed in the writing. So, the voice comment can kind of smooth that over.

Turnitin: Turnitin has clearly been an effective tool for you and your colleagues. What about for students?

M.L.: Not only have I used it for students to give them feedback, but then I've asked the students to evaluate how it works in the classroom and then online how it works in an online class. I'm not just using it to make it easier on myself, but really I think it's a tool that students are valuing. In fact the students have found—in classes I've taught in using it and not using it—that they are much happier with their progression of their grade by using Turnitin and specifically the GradeMark feature. So much so that students will ask if they're not using it in a class--if a professor is not using it--if I can open up a section of Turnitin GradeMark in my own area so they could submit things and get feedback on their writing before they submit to their other professors. So, the students are really coming back and saying this is a great tool. It's providing quicker feedback, easier feedback...documents don't get lost. Everything is so clear and easy for them to see, and they can even print themselves a pdf with all of the comments either next to it or right there at the bottom, so they can see all of the feedback at a glance. So it really has revolutionized my teaching and I think the teaching of many faculty at Stockton, because I've been able to share my experience.

Turnitin: I love hearing that students are asking for their instructors to use Turnitin.

M.L.: Yeah, I think on both sides it's really benefitting both the students and the faculty.

Turnitin: Well Marissa, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today.

M.L.: Thank you.

Turnitin: That was Marissa Levy, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, and an MVP honorable mention for the Turnitin All-Stars award program.