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Teaching Tips & Tricks, Sponsors & Supporters   |   Oct 19, 2016

Help students improve their writing with instant feedback from Turnitin

By Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Help students improve their writing with instant feedback from Turnitin

By Angela Watson

If there’s one thing all writing and ELA teachers wish their students would do more of it’s revise their work. Some kids see editing and revising as such a chore that they don’t want to bother reading it through and looking for ways to improve. Other kids simply don’t know how to do it and feel overwhelmed by the number of issues they need to be looking for.

And to complicate the matter further, there just isn’t enough time in the class period for teachers to provide guidance and specific feedback for each student. Helping students revise and improve their writing is a massively time-consuming job for the teacher.

If this is something that you and other teachers in your school desperately want a solution for, read on to see if Turnitin’s Revision Assistant can help, and let your admin know it’s something you’d like to have purchased.


The Turnitin Revision Assistant helps students improve their writing by offering specific feedback to open-ended and document-based prompts. The software has a unique feature called Signal Checks which offers qualitative and visual feedback based on standards-based rubrics (focus, evidence, ideas, and genre) as the students write.

Signal Checks look exactly like wifi signal bars. They are labeled according to the different aspects of writing being graded and the bars go up and down, depending on how well the student is doing on each. Some teachers note that students find the Signal Checks to be very motivating as they try to make the bars move higher! It’s just a simple, easy way for kids to check their effectiveness.


When students enter their responses into Turnitin Revision Assistant, specific feedback is provided through direct, actionable comments tied to highlighted sentences that need to be revised. This feedback is NOT just ‘phrase suggestions’ like you’d get with the grammar checker tool in Words Docs; rather, it offers detailed advice on how to achieve the paper’s main objectives. This encourages students to focus more on the writing process itself and not just on whipping through suggested corrections to complete their papers as fast as possible.

Turnitin Revision Assistant’s assessment and grading features are very customizable. Turnitin has an excellent library of rubrics and lesson plans that teachers can use. Some of the rubrics currently in their library include persuasive papers, theme analysis, modern history, and more. These resources are developed by fellow educators and can be integrated seamlessly with Turnitin Revision Assistant.


Because the process of evaluating a student’s work is much faster with RA, you can spend less time marking papers and pointing out areas of improvement, and more time engaging students individually to discuss their writing and make personal connections.


Turnitin Revision Assistant doesn’t just look for similar phrases but for similar ideas. It also looks for similar content among other students’ papers, so teachers can see if the content can be found in papers from other classes and even other schools who use Turnitin Revision Assistant.


Unlike most of the resources I share on the blog, Turnitin RA is not available for individual teachers to purchase and can only be accessed with a school subscription. The pricing will depend on how many teachers and students will be using it, but I asked for a rough estimate of cost from Turnitin and they let me know it’s generally around $10/year per full-time-enrolled student.

I’ve checked the site out pretty thoroughly and I feel confident that RA offers a a solid value. That’s for two reasons:

1) It will save the average ELA teacher many, many hours of revision and grading work.

2) It will help students understand the writing process and get individual feedback and support at a level that would be nearly impossible for one teacher to provide on his or her own.

Check it out for yourself, and see what YOU think! If you want to learn more about Turnitin, you can see it in action here.

Disclosure: Turnitin Revision Assistant has compensated me through Syndicate Ads for helping to spread the word about their writing resources. I only review products that I personally have used and/or would recommend for other educators.


Angela Watson

Founder and Writer

Angela created the first version of this site in 2003, when she was a classroom teacher herself. With 11 years of teaching experience and more than a decade of experience as an instructional coach, Angela oversees and contributes regularly to...
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