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When Nursing Students Cheat- Part 2

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by J.Adderton J.Adderton, MSN (Member) Writer Verified

J.Adderton has 20 years experience as a MSN .

7 Followers; 44 Articles; 25,975 Visitors; 226 Posts

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Why would a nursing student cheat despite the risk and consequences? This follow up article to Lost Integrity: When a Nursing Student Cheats will explore explore why students cheat, short and long term consequences and how to prevent unintentional cheating.

When Nursing Students Cheat- Part 2

The first article in this two part series, Lost Integrity: When A Nursing Student Cheats, explored the definition of cheating and the different forms of academic dishonesty.  Although individual levels of cheating in nursing programs are lower than other disciplines, it remains a serious issue. This article will take a closer look at why students cheat, as well as, short and long term consequences.  

Why Students Cheat

It is not uncommon for nursing programs to spend little time covering the student handbook, including policies on academic dishonesty. There are students who don’t understand what constitutes cheating and and this leads to the student cheating without knowing it.  There are several other reasons why students engage in academic dishonesty.

Peer Pressure

Students may feel pressure to collude with others (split assignments, complete online exams together ect) when program policy prohibits it.  Sometimes a group of students act dishonestly and coordinate efforts to gain an unfair advantage.  For example, a group of students may assign questions for each student to remember during an exam..  Afterward, the exam is recreated and used to study for the final or passing on to the next cohort.

Succeeding at the price of integrity

The pressure to do well in school starts at a young age and continues through high school and college.  Academic pressures may stem from competition, parent expectations or the need for perfection.  Test anxiety, failing grades, tough schedules or poor coping skills are a few of the root causes.

Excuse making and justification

Some nursing students blame faulty for their cheating and complain the instructors expect too much, don’t know how to teach or play favorites. For example, “I have to cheat, all the instructor does is read from Power Points and we are teaching ourselves”. “The exams are unfair and don’t even test what was taught in class”.  “Our instructor is horrible, everyone has to cheat”.  Students may not feel the program actions and environment are deserving of academic honesty.

Students may also use self-talk to justify their cheating, even though their behavior is inappropriate.  For example:

  • “I was sick for 4 days and just couldn’t catch up”
  • “I will do it only this once and only because the course exams are designed to fail students”.
  • “I am going to use a friends essay from a previous year only this once”.
  • “Everyone cheats in this class”.
  • “I will cut and paste the article’s introduction and it won’t matter because this is not an important assignment”.

Again, many students do not fully understand what constitutes cheating and the subsequent consequences.  Instructors may assume students understand policies and do not adequately or repeatedly discuss academic dishonesty.

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty

The most obvious penalties for academic dishonesty are failing an assignment, the entire course, loss of scholarship, dismissal for the program and even dismissal from the college.  For international students, academic dishonesty with discipline can actually result in revocation of their student visas.  Cheating in nursing programs prevent instructors from accurately assessing student knowledge and skill.  In addition, students may not have the fundamental knowledge and skill needed to pass NCLEX. 

Research has shown students who cheat are more likely to be unethical in their careers. Academic dishonesty may progress in the clinical settings into falsification of records, lower patient standards and jeopardizing public safety.  In the long run, students who engage in academic dishonesty may experience guilt and have low self esteem.

Protect Yourself

Although a student may not intentionally cheat, they may unknowingly engage in academically dishonest acts or behavior.  There are steps students can take to reduce the risk of unintentional cheating.

  • Review institution and program policies on academic integrity and be aware of different forms of cheating
  • Review the course syllabus, including assignment deadlines, collaborative activities and exam requirements and guidelines
  • Clarify any questions regarding the syllabus with your instructor
  • Be prepared for exam days to avoid the appearance of cheating (i.e. do not bring cell phone or other electronic devices, use restroom before the exam, have all supplies so there is no need to ask another student for pen ect during the exam
  • Due to diversity in the college environment, be aware of the potential for cultural or social misunderstandings on issues of academic integrity.
  • Awareness of cultural perceptions of body language and gestures, personal space and other differences that could result in misunderstandings
  • Be sure to reference and use proper citation when using materials from other sources

The nursing profession is built on an ethical foundation of honesty and integrity.  However, nursing students continue to engage in academic dishonesty despite potential consequences.  Assessment of knowledge and skill may not be accurate and students progress through the program without mastering course content.  It is important students understand college, program and course policies to prevent unintentional cheating.

What are your thoughts on why students cheat?

 

Resources

Northern Illinois University Student Academic Integrity Tutorial

National Student Nurse Association Code of Ethics

Allen C., Stanley S., Cascoe K. & Stennett R. (2017).  Academic dishonesty among  undergraduate nursing students, International Archives of Nursing and Healthcare 3:074.

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J.Adderton has over 20 years experience in the nursing profession. Enjoys writing about issues she encounters at work, student focused articles and substance abuse.

7 Followers; 44 Articles; 25,975 Visitors; 226 Posts

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I saw two students cheating on a quiz in my prerequisite class for our school's nursing program.  It's a highly competitive program (10% get accepted). I told the professor. Both of these students were at orientation for the program.  Needless to say, I will be watching them closely, and "ratting" them out if necessary. I despise cheating. 

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Not quite cheating, but when I was in a class to become a CNA over 10 years ago there was a woman in my class who admitted to some of the rest of us that she would put vodka in her orange juice on test days to help calm her nerves, to this day I still regret not saying anything about it to a professor. I was young and wasn't quite sure if she was kidding, but our tests were very simple (multiple choice) straight from the readings and I couldn't understand how someone could be that nervous about the test they needed alcohol to help calm their nerves. 🙁

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9 hours ago, BSNbound21 said:

I saw two students cheating on a quiz in my prerequisite class for our school's nursing program.  It's a highly competitive program (10% get accepted). I told the professor. Both of these students were at orientation for the program.  Needless to say, I will be watching them closely, and "ratting" them out if necessary. I despise cheating. 

I would be very careful about continuously saying this. If they aren't actually caught cheating and word gets to them that you're being vocal about this you risk getting in trouble for slander. I've seen this happen in my previous degree so I would step back since you've already notified the professor once about it. I would also not talk about it with any classmates. 

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12 hours ago, stockmanjr said:

I would be very careful about continuously saying this. If they aren't actually caught cheating and word gets to them that you're being vocal about this you risk getting in trouble for slander. I've seen this happen in my previous degree so I would step back since you've already notified the professor once about it. I would also not talk about it with any classmates. 

I haven't told any classmates. I'm not concerned about slander. I witnessed cheating first-hand & reported it. I would do it again in a heartbeat and will do it again if I see these two cheating again.  If nobody speaks out against cheating, it will continue.  I'm not concerned about retributions when none are in order. Thanks for your advice though.

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12 hours ago, stockmanjr said:

I would be very careful about continuously saying this. If they aren't actually caught cheating and word gets to them that you're being vocal about this you risk getting in trouble for slander. I've seen this happen in my previous degree so I would step back since you've already notified the professor once about it. I would also not talk about it with any classmates. 

Also, by witnessing cheating I am obligated to report it per the academic dishonesty policy that I signed. I have not continuously said anything, I said something once. It would only be continuous if these two continue to be dishonest.

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KCMnurse has 33 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN and works as a Registered Nurse.

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Test-taking anxiety is real and it doesn't really matter how 'easy' or 'difficult' the test is perceived to be. I am not excusing taking a 'nip' to loosen up beforehand, just recognizing that the fear is real for some.

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