Improve Student Engagement and Academic Honesty

At Thomas Dale High School, teachers use Turnitin to guide the teaching of proper research writing skills and to encourage academic honesty by providing a self-checking strategy and deterrent to plagiarism.

Thomas Dale High School
Chester, VA
Public School
2,300 Students


Kathy Lehman is a National Board Certified librarian at Thomas Dale High School in Chester, Virginia. Along with her colleagues, Lori Donovan and Shelley Armstrong, Lehman provides instruction to 2,300 students and 150 teachers at the high school. This innovative library program has been designated with the 2011 Virginia Educational Media Association's (VEMA) School Library Media Program of the Year Award.


Lehman found that cheating had become a major issue with high school students, especially those in advanced placement classes, for a variety of reasons. Discussions with students on this topic revealed that academic pressures, time crunches, misunderstanding of the writing process and readily available technological resources were among the reasons that this academic offense was taking place. "After discussing the current attitudes towards cheating with students in our high school, we had to face the problem head on," said Lehman.


To help reduce cheating and encourage academic honesty, Thomas Dale High School continues to implement a number of strategies to help students succeed. "We are developing strategies and assessments which help our students tackle tough research assignments in the library, evaluate their success with online tools such as and take pride in their accomplishments," said Lehman. At the high school, students submit their papers through Turnitin and receive originality reports to check how well they are putting content into their own words. They then rewrite highlighted sections of their papers before the final due date to help improve their grade. "Turnitin is an excellent self-checking strategy to learn proper paraphrasing and summarizing, as well as a deterrent to plagiarism. In our school, Turnitin is our number one defense against cheating."


Turnitin has been a valuable resource at Thomas Dale High School to teach students about proper writing skills while guarding against plagiarism. Educators have seen many positive outcomes as a result of this implementation and plan to continue to use it as a supplement to their instruction. "Striving to write the best paper and turn in their best work is the disposition we hope to instill," said Lehman.