Journal Club: Academic Cheating Among Nursing Students

In this weeks EKM Journal Club we explored the paper:

Park, E.-J., Park, S., & Jang, I.-S. (2013). Academic cheating among nursing students. Nurse Education Today, 33(4), 346–52.

Park, Park and Jang describe their work examining the magnitude and predictors of cheating in South Korean nursing Schools. They surveyed 650 nursing students from 5 institutions using a  validated survey instrument. Those present were asked if they thought nursing students were as honest as other students or more or less so. The group unanimously thought there was so significant difference.
The five fundamental aspects of academic integrity outlined by Gaberson (1997) were discussed: honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. These were agreed as a useful set of aspects to define the issue.The researchers also suggested the concern that those who are academically dishonest are likely to repeat these behaviours in practice. However, those present did not feel this was a black and white issue. Most felt that nursing students who cheated academically would not necessarily be likely to engage in deceitful or dishonest practices in clinical practice if patient safety was at stake.
A range of justifications (neutralization or normalization behaviours)for academic dishonesty had been observed by faculty  including the key ones identified in this paper, such as: “everyone does it,” “I don’t have time” and “I need to maintain my GPA”.
The  researchers used four categories for academic dishonesty:
  • Cheating – outroight cheating activities (such as sneaking in notes to an exam)Fabrication – making up results/bibleographies
  • Plagiarism – citing others work unattributed
  • Facilitation – allowing others to cheat
These catagories were found useful, but some felyt that cheating was a rather broad category and did not necessarily discern more detailed aspects such as syndication.
Overall the researchers found that:
  • 50% of students had engaged in one or more exam cheating behaviours,
  • 78% of students had engaged in one or more assignment cheating behaviours.

Those present felt that similar results would likely be found here, although the last Canadian study referenced found a reported 58% of students engaged in academic dishonesty (McCabe, 2009). Overall the group felt this was a well conceived study, although the reporting of results was a little confusing in the paper. They agreed with the authors recomendations that both policing and positive strategies may help reduce academic dishonesty. The key reasons for cheating identified were:

  • Higher GPA
  • Lack of time
  • Need a better job

… and factors that were felt most likely to curtail cheating activities were:

  • A fair response by University (policies and actions)
  • increased surveillance ( exams and in assignments)
  • Altering test environment ( random seating in exams)
  • Balancing assessment strategies to give a reasonable workload
Lastly, the group felt that emphasising the nature of academic dishonesty early in the program and asking students to sign up to a voluntary code of academic conduct (to emphasise the issue) might be helpful. It was noted that in some institutions students have to sign a declaration that their work is their own and they have not engaged in any academic dishonesty in the production of it, when they hand in asignments and examination papers. Whilst these measures probably do not stop cheating, they may decrease it by making students more concious of the issues.
The slides used during the club can be found here: Academic Dishonesty JC Slides.



Gaberson, K.B., 1997. Academic dishonesty among nursing students. Nursing Forum 32(3), 14

McCabe, D.L., 2009. Academic dishonesty in nursing schools: an empirical investigation.Journal of Nursing Education 48 (11), 614

Pin It

Leave a Reply