Lisa Russell wins global recognition for innovative use of technology

2nd November 2018

By Steven Krolak

(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)–Lisa Russell, associate professor of strategic management and entrepreneurship in the School of Business, has won honorable mention at the Turnitin Global Innovation Awards.

The awards recognize students, educators, administrators and institutions worldwide with a passion for academic integrity. Through the use of Turnitin tools, award-winners support student learning by, among other things, helping them to understand and avoid plagiarism.

Russell was one of seven finalists chosen from among 916 nominations from 17 countries.

She was honored for her use of Turnitin Feedback Studio as a learning tool.

This technology allows instructors to provide feedback on student assignments via voice and text, but it also allows them–and their students–to check citations with a click of a mouse.

Turnitin tools are used by some 30 million students at 15,000 institutions in 140 countries worldwide. The company archives 929 million student papers, crawl 67 billion web pages and reference 178 million journal articles, in addition to books, conference proceedings and other scholarly publications.

That staggering database is a powerful weapon against plagiarism, but Russell would rather wield it as a learning tool to help students make the right decisions and develop their own commitment to credibility.

“I don’t want to be punitive, I want to be proactive,” Russell said. “I want my students to know that I’m going to give them every tool I can to help them, and I want them to know why I’m giving them the tools and tasks.”

That “why” turns this exercise into a high-impact practice that gives students greater responsibility for their own success.

Russell’s approach involves cultivating an informed environment in which students develop a better understanding of the subtleties of academic integrity. Feedback in the app is just a starting point for open discussions that reframe the relationship between Russell and her students and between the students and their sources.

For starters, it’s important that students understand that the stakes are high, and that they extend beyond campus.

“Intentional and unintentional use of another’s intellectual property can result in civil and/or criminal penalties, including the loss of freedom through incarceration, because it is theft,” Russell said. “I let students know that having plagiarism on their academic or criminal record could result in being denied jobs, having vital security clearances denied or revoked, being denied the opportunity to serve in political office, or worse.”

But scaring students away from plagiarism isn’t the same as helping them cultivate habits of integrity. Russell realizes that plagiarism is subtle, especially when lines of ownership are blurred in group projects, or when students may not have been trained to avoid the pitfalls.

“They may know they are supposed to construct a reference section and use in-text citations, but they have never been systematically taught how to synthesize thoughts and ideas,” Russell said. “This is a difficult thing to master, and without direct and specific help, students don’t just ‘get it.'”

Tools like Turnitin give students a way to check their papers for similarity before turning them in, so they can identify problems before incurring penalties.

This allows integrity to become a skill to be mastered rather than a happy accident, and it allows Russell to become an inspiring facilitator rather than a dreaded cop.

“I want to share my enthusiasm for lifelong learning, including academic integrity, and integrity in everything they do,” Russell said.

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