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New Member

Turnitin and Essay Quizzes

Has anyone found a good way to use Turnitin to check essay questions in quizzes?  This came up in an impromptu Canvas consult the other day, and I am searching to see if there's a better way to check quizzes for plagiarism outside of logging in to Turnitin's main site and copy/pasting (that'd be OK for smaller classes, but if someone is running a class with 100+ people and has no TAs to help, it's not a tenable solution).



7 Replies
Community Champion

Hi  @magreen ​

Haven't tried this myself so not sure how well it will work, but give it a try:

After students have completed the quiz, go into the quiz statistics and click Student Analysis. This will generate a spreadsheet for you to download, with one row per student and columns for date submitted, score etc plus one column per question. Copy and paste the entire column for your essay question and save it in a separate document, then you can submit all responses for this question into Turnitin as a single block of text. You could submit it to Turnitin's main site, or create an assignment with Turnitin enabled in your Canvas course and submit it there while logged in with a test student account.

The main disadvantage would be that you may need to do a bit of manipulation/formatting on the Turnitin report when it comes back so you can work out which parts of the report correspond to each student.

Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi  @magreen ​...

In addition to the information that  @Steve_Watts ​ has give you, I am going to tag our resident Turnitin guru,  @dhulsey ​, to see if he has dealt with any situations like yours.  Dallas has a great blog post over in the Instructional Designers​ group (if you're not following that group, consider doing so) called Canvas and Turnitin that you might want to check out.  Hope this helps!

Community Champion

Good morning Chris, Michael, and Steve! My solution is to use a file upload question on the quiz. This allows students to upload a file in response to the question, and the instructor can bulk download the files from the quiz as documented in How do I create a File Upload quiz question?.  Once the students' files are downloaded in a zip file, the instructor could upload the zip file to theTurnitin - Checking Quick Submit feature on Turnitin's website. This is one good reason for instructors to set up accounts through Turnitin's interface and enable the quick submit in their settings.

For instances where a file upload question will not work because you are using a testing browser like Respondus Lockdown or something like that, Steve's solution is a great way to still get originality reports.

New Member

These are useful workarounds, but they are not 100% solutions.  The batch-download method is cumbersome if something gets flagged, unless the student has self-identified in that response; otherwise, one has to go back into the spreadsheet and find the text string in question and figure out who said it.  

The file-upload question is more useful insofar as that aspect goes, but then one runs into the issue of having a truly timed assessment.  And then there is the issue of using "surprise" questions.  Presumably, a student getting a surprise question would have to leave the browser and write a response in an outside document, since the essay could not have been pre-written (without cheating --it WAS supposed to be a surprise question, after all).  Would one still be able to use the Respondus Lockdown Browser in that case?

I am still rooting for an ability to autoscan within the confines of a timed assessment, without having to download anything and upload it separately.

Community Champion

Hi, David. I can confirm that a file upload question in a quiz would not work with Respondus. That reason is why I separate my exams into two parts. Part One is multiple choice, matching, true / false, etc., and that part of the exam uses Respondus. The essay portion is part B, and that way I can use a file upload question.  The solution is not perfect, but it works. I do not know of any plagiarism scanner that would work within a quiz without doing some leg work to run a scan. If you find one, I would be interested to hear about it though!

Community Contributor

I’d love to add essay questions to assessments such as, “In your own words, what’s the main function of the kidney?” Having the integration that David describes would make this worthwhile to assign and grade. 

On a related note, I recently talked to our tech folks about LockDown (we don’t have it). They made what I thought was a good point: it’s not worth it in the age of multiple devices. David, and thoughts on this? Thanks!

Lockdown is not the silver bullet, but it is tool in the box that I frequently use. One needs to employ judicious use of time limits so that students don’t have time to Google up answers on a second device, for instance. (NB be aware of ADA accommodations for some!)

Lockdown is useful in conjunction with in-person proctoring, strangely enough. I have proctored exams for Math instructors who configured Lockdown so that if a student logged out or got disconnected, the exam terminated; this was to prevent students from taking do-overs on tough questions.

Lockdown With Monitor is the next step up —that’s the version that does webcam recording. it is not a total impediment to the second-device scan, but it does raise a hurdle in that students can be made to scan the room prior to the exam. Additionally, if the microphone picks up sounds like pages turning or speech, it raises a flag for review (likewise if a student’s gaze departs the screen in a significant way). I think once we get Bluetooth-enabled webcams that can be stuck on the wall from the rear, or even mini-drone-mounted webcams that can view students from above and behind, (literally, a Golden Snitch), this might become more useful.