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How academic integrity research changed the lives of a teacher and her students

Carolina Tapia, Universidad de Monterrey | Americas Awards Finalist, 2021

How academic integrity research changed the lives of a teacher and her students

Carolina Tapia is a researcher and professor at the University of Monterrey, a Mexican institution characterized by its high standards and strong promotion of academic integrity. In fact, they have a Center for Academic Integrity. “It is one of the things that motivates me the most about the University,” says the professor, who dedicates her classes and her work to ethics and integrity in education.

For at least 5 years, Tapia set the goal of developing strategies not only among the students in her courses, but also for her peers, who are constantly looking for tools to support them in the teaching-learning process with integrity. “When I found Turnitin, I discovered a solution that can give us an answer to both students and teachers, through immediate feedback,” adds Carolina.

In her years of teaching, Carolina has witnessed how mastering the writing process can be a determining factor even in the completion of a study plan. “In recent years I have accompanied many graduate students who are working on a thesis, and what I have found is that students fall by the wayside because one of the skills they don’t develop throughout their education, whether undergraduate or graduate, is the ability to write academically. This is a trigger for them and is something that does not allow them to complete a doctoral thesis and finally fail to obtain a degree,” she says.

The academic from the Universidad de Monterrey is an observer. She has focused her work on the dynamics generated in the classroom and on the students’ relationship with academic integrity and original thinking, imbuing them with the good practice of observing to improve their writing. “In the classroom we are all self-observers of ourselves -I tell them- and we start to understand how we should act in relation to the references. Finally, I believe that these kinds of values have to be lived beyond the discourse."

This constant observation is what has inspired Carolina to take the experience of teaching with integrity - supported by Turnitin solutions - to the world of research. A few months ago she presented her work at the 9th Academic Integrity Congress, where she expressed her interest in documenting and systematizing a process that can be used, both by her peers and by students at different grade levels.

"The results of my research will be published so that whoever reads it can understand how to establish good use of the software in a dynamic of accompaniment, and integrate it into their course. Many people involved in the teaching-learning process ask themselves: 'how do I do it', and I would like to be able to give them an answer so that they can help their students develop writing skills," she says about her new challenges.

But Carolina not only wants to support her peers, she also created a strategy so that - through Turnitin’s technology - students in her courses who have not had in-depth training in writing skills can feel confident when faced with writing a paper.

"They have to write three essays, and in those three essays there is a rubric that establishes how the referencing should be made, which in this case is in APA format; how the essay is going to be, if it should be argumentative, and the length of the document, among other formatting characteristics and, on the other hand, there is a specific section that covers the use of the program where they must indicate how many times they uploaded their document, what parts they modified and the similarities they found in order to improve their writing."

What are the results? For the academic, the use of the tool has allowed her students to reconnect with writing: "Before, writing activities did not motivate them and now they are the first ones interested in writing an essay". Moreover, the benefits have not only been for the students, but also for the professors, who now can provide immediate and effective feedback to their course, without being overloaded with revision tasks: "Finally, the use of Turnitin is a good match with the culture of academic integrity that the University of Monterrey promotes," she concludes.

Carolina Tapia
Researcher and Professor
Universidad de Monterrey