Academic Dishonesty, Bullying, Incivility, and Violence: Difficult Challenges Facing Nurse Educators

Article excerpt

Prior to the NLN Education Summit 2005, the authors took part in a conference call to discuss some of the difficulties and challenges faced by faculty in schools of nursing. Familiar with the growing body of published work on troublesome behaviors in American schools and the workplace, we determined to use a panel discussion format to explore the nature of these difficulties and capture the meanings these experiences have for the individuals involved. By sharing personal experiences and presenting a review of the literature, we hoped to give voice to troublesome and sometimes painful aspects of our roles as educators. * In our vision for the panel discussion and this article, our desire was to be part of the solution. Our goal is to explore these experiences in a way that encourages self-reflection, teaches acceptable behavior, and supports positive change in the educational environment. We hope to promote opportunities for all involved in nursing education--students, faculty, and administrators--to grow and flourish. *

This article follows the sequence of the panel presentation, which began with a comprehensive review of the literature on academic dishonesty, followed by a discussion of low- and high-tech forms of cheating used by students. We addressed the need to process social information correctly and develop positive and acceptable social skills needed for professional development, and we discussed bullying, issues of incivility among faculty members, and the troublesome practice known as "mean girl games." Our names are presented alongside our contributions, but all of us answered questions and participated in the lively discussion that took place at the Summit.

Academic Dishonesty Joanne Farley Serembus

Long part of academic life, academic dishonesty has been defined as "intentional participation in deceptive regarding one's academic work or the work of mother" (1). As many as 70 to 95 percent of students have been reported to have engaged in such practices (2-4). Some have suggested that academic dishonesty arises from a deterioration of morals as documented over the past decade by the Josephson Institute (5).

As nurse educators, we are responsible for providing curricula that integrate moral and ethical issues and prepare students to practice according to an accepted code of professional practice. Therefore, it is imperative that we do our best to prevent students from participating in practices such as cheating, plagiarism, unethical clinical practice, alteration of records, forgery, false representation, and knowingly assisting another in dishonest acts (1,6). Hilbert's (7-9) finding of a relationship between unethical classroom behaviors and unethical clinical behaviors is particularly disturbing as unethical clinical practice can affect safe nursing practice. The most frequent unethical clinical behaviors found were: discussing patients in public places or with nonmedical personnel; taking hospital equipment for use at home; and recording that medications, treatments, observations, or home visits were performed when they were not.

A number of factors contribute to academic dishonesty. These include competition for higher grades, honors, awards, and a grade point average sufficient for graduate study; an emphasis on perfection in nurses and nursing practice; lower levels of moral development; risk-taking behaviors that count on not getting caught or punished; the will to succeed at all costs; lack of preparation or skills; poor academic standing, poor grades, and concerns about the financial impact of failing a course; personal time management factors and competing assignments; a classroom or clinical environment conducive to academic dishonesty; and the use of rationalizations to justify dishonest actions (1,3,10). While faculty and students agree that an ever-increasing number of students cheat, students tend to differentiate between cheating on exams and what they consider less serious events such as plagiarism or working together on assignments that were meant to be completed individually (11,12). …