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Tecnológico de Costa Rica
Cartago, Costa Rica

The implementation of Turnitin Similarity provided the members of the Costa Rica Institute of Technology with a great lesson: the importance of interdisciplinary work to implement Turnitin. When the task of expanding and extending the use of the tool among the educational community came to the training department, Julia Espinoza and María Eugenia Quesada - the unit's training leaders - asked themselves, how can we make a difference? And the answer didn’t take long to come. “Then we said: if we collaborate together we can attract the student population to learn more about the subject," says María Eugenia Quesada, UI/UX designer at the institution.

Thus, in order to provide more comprehensive training, they decided to involve different units and departments. “The fact that we work in several instances of the institution makes us see a much bigger picture, as if we were an octopus, we find many places where we can use the tool for positive effects, because Turnitin is super useful and super functional, but we had to establish how to direct it so that they get 100% benefit,” adds Quesada.

This way, specialists from the Language and Communication department -to strengthen academic writing-, library staff -to teach the different forms of referencing-, members of the guidance and psychology department -with the aim of providing support to students- and the Academic Development Center (CEDA) -who provided pedagogical and didactic support- joined the training and workshops.

This interdisciplinary experience has led the members of the training department to document this process, generating research work and concrete data that show the impact of the use of Turnitin in the institution. Thus, 65% of the students surveyed stated that they constantly use the tool with 72% of them motivated by personal interest, which reveals a direct impact on education that begins in the first courses of each career, changing their beliefs about ethics, integrity and original thinking that students have when they move from high school to university.

On the other hand, when asked about the usefulness of the tool, 94% of the students recognized that it is very useful, and 91.2% of the teachers reaffirmed this opinion. Regarding the latter group, 70.8% of the teachers stated that they make constant use of Turnitin, while 66% said that they carry out activities that encourage the appropriate use of the solutions among their students. 

Her knowledge as a software developer has given Julia Espinoza a greater vision. She is aware that, although a tool can be very good and robust, it must be made known to the community in order to establish a real impact. "The effects are short term, but the impact is seen in the long term", says Espinoza, who also adds that "we want to see if the students integrate this perspective that as an institution we’ve wanted to give them, not only for a course, but throughout their student and professional life."

The benefits that the Costa Rica Institute of Technology has obtained after the implementation of Turnitin Similarity is unquestionable, however, what has motivated them the most has been the possibility of making revisions prior to the final submission, which has encouraged formative feedback. "In the courses, we try to teach the students from the beginning that they can do a review and even that initial review does not affect their results. It also helps us teachers a lot, because from the evaluation, we can, with just a single click, review all the papers and that is definitely a great help in terms of the teacher’s time." 

Another feature that has suited the needs of the university is the quick and easy integration with the existing LMS system. “Turnitin is integrated to Tec Digital, which is our eLearning platform, it is not external. We know some cases where it is external, even some of the integrated systems need a request, for example if I am a student I have to make the request to the support department to enable the tool and I have to ask permission from the teacher. Instead our tool is integrated into the LMS and allows access for all users, regardless of whether the profile is a student, teacher or even academic support,” says Quesada.

What is next? First of all, the continuity of this research work promises to systematize processes to share among peers. Secondly, to create the awareness in the teaching community that we must go beyond the percentage of similarity and evaluate any suspicion as experts. And thirdly, to continue to guarantee learning with integrity among students with the support of Turnitin’s solutions. “Turnitin eases the teaching-learning process because it has comprehensive solutions and doesn’t force us to have one solution for this and another one for that. The tool gives us the ability to reinforce our TEC stamp, so we hope to continue making developments together,” concludes Quesada.