The status of academic integrity among nursing students

Theart, Cecilia Johanna (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2011-03)

Thesis (MCur)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Academic integrity is of undisputed importance in the educational environment as honesty is regarded as a basic ethical value in all educational programmes. Yet, academic dishonesty is a wide-ranging practice which is also encountered in the nursing education environment. This phenomenon causes concern in the nursing fraternity because of the positive correlation between unethical academic practices and future unethical professional behaviour. This correlation, together with the lack of research data regarding academic dishonesty at nursing education institutions in South Africa, motivated the researcher to undertake the present study. The purpose of the study was to examine the status of academic integrity among nursing students at a nursing education institution in the Western Cape. The objectives were to determine the incidence of academic dishonesty and to investigate the individual and contextual factors that influence academic dishonesty. The students’ knowledge of institutional policies regarding academic dishonesty, their understanding of plagiarism and referencing, their attitudes towards cheating, and their recommendations to prevent cheating were also explored. A quantitative research approach with a descriptive survey design was chosen for the study. The population (N=688) included all the pre-registration nursing students in the second- (N=319), third- (N=199) and fourth-year (N=170) groups. A nonrandom convenience sampling technique was used to select a sample of 80% (n=550) from each of the second-year (n=255), third-year (n=159) and fourth-year (n=136) student groups. A self-reported questionnaire, with a set of 61 Likert-type items, was designed to obtain information about academic dishonesty. Three openended questions were included in the questionnaire to generate more in-depth data. The questionnaire, which was based on a literature review and on the objectives for the study, was pilot tested to ensure reliability and validity. The inputs of experts in research methodology and nursing education also assured reliability and validity. Data collection, where only the researcher was involved, took place during scheduled classes. Descriptive statistics and, where appropriate, inferential statistical tests were used in analysing the data. Ethical approval was obtained. Measures were taken to ensure anonymity and confidentiality to all respondents. Consent was assumed on completion of the questionnaire. It was found that academic dishonesty was a reality at the nursing education institution where this study was done. Cheating behaviours associated with plagiarism and assignments were identified as the main problem areas. An unacceptably high level of dishonesty with the completion of practical records was also an area of concern. The main recommendations were the development and implementation of a code of honour and the implementation of comprehensive academic integrity policies at the nursing education institution. Practical measures aimed at combating cheating in tests and examinations were also recommended.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Akademiese integriteit in die opvoedkundige omgewing is ongetwyfeld van groot belang omdat eerlikheid as ʼn basiese etiese beginsel in alle opvoedkundige programme beskou word. Desnieteenstaande, is akademiese oneerlikheid ʼn algemene praktyk wat ook in die verpleegonderwys omgewing voorkom. Weens die positiewe korrelasie tussen onetiese akademiese praktyke en toekomstige onetiese professionele gedrag veroorsaak hierdie verskynsel kommer in die verpleeggemeenskap. Hierdie korrelasie, tesame met die gebrek aan navorsingsdata ten opsigte van akademiese oneerlikheid by verpleegonderwys instellings in Suid-Afrika, het die navorser gemotiveer om die huidige studie te onderneem. Die doel van die studie was om die status van akademiese integriteit onder verpleegstudente by ʼn verpleegonderwys instelling in die Wes-Kaap te ondersoek. Die doelwitte was om die insidensie van akademiese oneerlikheid te bepaal, en om ondersoek in te stel na die individuele en kontekstuele faktore wat akademiese oneerlikheid beïnvloed. Die studente se kennis van die institusionele beleide met betrekking tot akademiese oneerlikheid, hul begrip van plagiaat en die verwysing van bronne, hul houding teenoor oneerlikheid, asook hul aanbevelings om oneerlikheid te voorkom, is ook ondersoek. ʼn Kwantitatiewe navorsingsbenadering met ʼn beskrywende opname-ontwerp is vir die studie gekies. Die populasie (N=688) het al die voorregistrasie-verpleegstudente in die tweede- (N=319), derde- (N=199) en vierdejaargroepe (N=170) ingesluit. ʼn Nie-ewekansige gerieflikheidsteekproeftegniek is gebruik om ʼn steekproef van 80% (n=550) uit elk van die tweede- (n=255), derde- (n=159) en vierdejaarstudente (n=136) te selekteer. ʼn Self-rapporteringsvraelys met ʼn stel van 61 Likert-styl-items is ontwerp om inligting ten opsigte van akademiese oneerlikheid in te samel. Drie oop vrae is ingesluit in die vraelys om meer in-diepte data te genereer. Die vraelys is op ʼn literatuurstudie en die doelwitte van die studie gebaseer en ʼn loodsstudie is gedoen om die betroubaarheid en geldigheid te verseker. Die insette van kundiges in navorsingsmetodologie en verpleegopvoedkunde het ook die betroubaarheid en geldigheid verseker. Data-insameling, waarby slegs die navorser betrokke was, het tydens geskeduleerde klastyd plaasgevind. Beskrywende statistieke, en waar toepaslik, inferensiële statistiese toetse, is gebruik vir data-analise. Etiese goedkeuring is verkry. Algehele anonimiteit en vertroulikheid is vir al die respondente gewaarborg. Voltooiing van die vraelys het ook toestemming tot deelname aangedui. Daar is gevind dat akademiese oneerlikheid ʼn werklikheid is by die verpleegonderwys instelling waar die studie gedoen is. Oneerlike gedrag geassosieer met plagiaat en werkopdragte is as die hoof-probleemareas geïdentifiseer. Die onaanvaarbare hoë vlak van oneerlikheid met die voltooiing van praktika-rekords is ook ʼn bron van kommer. Die hoofaanbevelings was die ontwikkeling en implementering van ʼn erekode en die implementering van beleide ten opsigte van omvattende akademiese integriteit by die verpleegonderwys instelling. Praktiese maatreëls gerig op die bestryding van oneerlikheid in toetse en eksamens is ook aanbeveel.

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