The Andean Region University Foundation is defined as an accessible university. In Colombia, this means that, despite being a private higher education institution, it is accessible to the entire population. In fact, its low cost and high quality earned it a Multicampus High Quality certification, and in recent years it has received a series of recognitions for its educational quality.
“We have students from middle and low socioeconomic status who, if they don’t have access to public education, could hardly afford to pay for a high quality university in the private sector,” explains Damaris Ramos Vega professor in the Psychology program of the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences, about the character of the university.
The university has seven departments —Law, Engineering, Social Sciences, Health Sciences, Education, Communication and Fine Arts— which offer 85 programs ranging from Technical, Technologist, Professional, Masters, Extension Courses, Continuing Education and Specializations. In addition, there are face-to-face and virtual modalities, as well as distance education.
When asked about her experience working in the institution, Ramos Vega says: "I think the best thing about working in the Andean Region University Foundation is that we are demanding, we always want to do our best, but at the same time we take care of ourselves, both among colleagues and at the institutional level."
As a teacher, Ramos Vega is passionate about learning, sharing and discovering with her students. "Sometimes I can be tired, but the meeting, discovering together, the debates, their questions and questioning, that's what moves me," she says of her passion; teaching.
In the classroom, Ramos Vega makes a constant effort to bridge the gap that often exists between teachers and their students. "I believe that the creation of new learning opportunities should be based on a collective construction, of meeting as equals," she reflects.
The implementation of Turnitin Feedback Studio began as an exploration. The authorities asked the teachers to test the services that the university's Research Unit was already using. They wanted to know if it could be useful in the day-to-day classroom, beyond its proven usefulness in special research projects.
"When I started exploring, I realized that there were many elements that would serve me on a day-to-day basis and that would allow me to interact differently with the students. Right away I realized that it went far beyond looking for a match between two texts," she says of her first steps with Turnitin Feedback Studio.
Damaris Ramos Vega works, punctually, in methodological subjects, teaching about scientific writing and standards for the production and divulgation of knowledge. "In this type of work, beyond academic misconduct, it is a challenge to read 20, 25 or 30 research reports and analyze what each student knows or does not know. It is very tiring so Turnitin is key: it provides you with QuickMarks, rubrics and PeerMarks, among other tools."
Thanks to these functions, it is easier to detect which is the source in a paper, which authors were cited in another, or to better visualize the way in which the information is presented.
"A colleague once asked me, 'Have you finished reviewing the PPAs (classroom pedagogical projects)?' He couldn't believe it and he said to me: ‘How do you do it?’. And I simply told him, 'with Turnitin'. It is a tool that helps and allows us to concentrate on what is important: to make a judicious and systematic exercise of revision and reading in depth," she explains about the advantages she has found since using Turnitin Feedback Studio.
Another tool whose use has greatly benefited Ramos Vega's teaching process, especially in relation to the educational impact on students, is the use of PeerMarks. According to his curriculum planning, for some deliverables, in addition to teacher feedback, students have the opportunity to receive comments from their own peers.
"Not only is it an opportunity for them to discover that corrections are not willful, but in the exercise of reading someone else's work, they have the opportunity to feel that they also know and that they have something to contribute to someone else. It is giving a leading role to the student, so that he can give himself feedback through his own assessment, which allows him to appropriate the knowledge," he explains about this pedagogical opportunity. "Turnitin makes my life easier,” she concludes.