UNF Center for Instruction and Research Technology

Cirt Blog Post

On Turnitin’s AI-Detection

Online Learning Support

Important Note: As with any tool of this nature, decisions about academic integrity should not be based on a single data point, but rather an indicator that further review may be needed. As we learn more about this feature, we will continue to update this knowledge base and blog.

Turnitin – the anti-plagiarism LTI installed in UNF’s instance of Canvas – recently added an AI-Detection feature described by the vendor as helping instructors identify student use of AI writing tools. UNF/CIRT has so far opted not to turn this feature on, and we want to use this blog as an opportunity to explain why.

Note that CIRT has neither received data on the efficacy of this feature nor have we been able to extensively test it ourselves (as we do with other tools or features). We are, however, working with the vendor in order to gain access to a testing environment.

Here's What We Know

Turnitin’s New AI-Detection Only Works with ChatGPT  

Furthermore, Turnitin’s AI-Detection only works with ChatGPT versions 3 and 3.5 (it may not work with other generative text tools like Google Bard, AI-Writer, or Ryter). Just a few weeks ago, OpenAI announced the release of GPT-4, and Turnitin claims that future updates to their AI-Detection software will address this version as well. 

Turnitin Claims 98% Confidence in AI-Detection

Turnitin claims that they can detect the presence of AI writing with 98% confidence and a less than 1% false-positive rate in a controlled environment, testing against GPT specifically. CIRT has not yet tested these claims, however, and in the brief time we had with the tool, we could not confirm such efficacy. 

Turnitin has Provided Extensive Documentation

Unlike many other AI-Detection tools that have entered the market, Turnitin has created extensive documentation, blogs, and videos explaining how their software works and suggesting how to incorporate it in a classroom environment. CIRT is reviewing this documentation, as well as working on our own documentation for UNF instructors which will be available if this feature is enabled.

This Feature is Not Visible to Students

Currently, the AI-Detection report is only visible to administrators and instructors.

AI-Detection is in PREVIEW Mode

Although Turnitin claims that their AI-Detection tool is fully functional, it is currently a “preview” product. This means that it may not be available to UNF faculty in the long-term without incurring cost.

Whether or not UNF adopts Turninin AI-Detection as a permanent solution will depend on a variety of factors including but not limited to the tool’s efficacy, reliability, and cost.

CIRT is working closely with several units on campus to consider a response to the advent of AI and AI-detections tools in the classroom and to develop guidance UNF instructors. These units include ITS, the Dean of Students, the Office of Faculty Excellence, the Writing Program & Center, and CIRT’s Instructional Design team

In the meantime, CIRT is happy to provide several resources to help navigate this technology. First, you may find it useful to review the resources available from the University of Missouri, which has been a forerunner on this subject. Second, we recommend reaching out to your department’s Instructional Designer Liaison to discuss new assessment strategies that account for student/AI collaboration. Finally, if you believe a student has committed Academic Misconduct by violating a class or University policy, please contact the Dean of Students.

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Online Learning Support
Michael Russo
Michael Russo
CIRT | Assistant Director OLS