Teach Proper Citation Techniques

At Steffen Middle School, teachers use Turnitin to promote original thinking and to help students learn how to paraphrase and cite information properly. As students improve, they can learn the proper format for academic writing and reduce the percentage of matched content in their own work.

Steffen Middle School
Mequon, WI
Public School
420 Students


Natalie Block is an eighth grade math and science teacher at Steffen Middle School (SMS). Located in Mequon, WI in the Mequon-Thiensville School District, SMS serves 420 students in sixth through eighth grades.


Block's eighth grade students were in need of additional help learning the writing process. Many of them were improperly paraphrasing, making it look like they were intentionally plagiarizing. Block knew that if her students didn't learn proper paraphrasing in her class, they would not be given a second chance when they got to high school the following year. She needed a way to teach her students the appropriate way of citing material and writing in their own words.


Once Block had been introduced to Turnitin, she loved it. She recruited Turnitin to help teach her students how to improve their citations and paraphrasing. First Block assigned her science classes an article to read, summarize and reflect upon. Knowing that her students gather a bulk of their information from the Internet, she alerted them that their summaries and reflections were to be submitted to Turnitin.com and that any paper with 15 percent or more of matched content would require a rewrite by the student. Her first time doing this left several students surprised that they had to rewrite their papers.


Block's eighth grade science classes did not like Turnitin at first. "My students realize that Turnitin makes them more accountable. It shows they have some things they need to work on."

At the beginning of the year many of Block's students were handing in article reviews that came back with a 30 percent match. As the year progressed, however, her class was down to less than five percent matching content. Block tells her students not to be embarrassed if their paper has a high percentage of matches. She explains that proper citations, quotes and names are all included in the percentage. "I show student's papers to the class and they shout "Please show mine, please show mine." They are eager to see the Turnitin.com matches and their matched percentage," said Block.