WEATHER ALERT

Nursing students aren’t appearing squeaky clean

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On whether students figuring out what exam was going to be used is considered dishonest: “I would say yes, and the reason I would say yes is that the reason that we have tests is for students to demonstrate their knowledge. And so if you just go and buy the answers, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve learned the material.”

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Opinion

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/02/2020 (1035 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

On whether students figuring out what exam was going to be used is considered dishonest: “I would say yes, and the reason I would say yes is that the reason that we have tests is for students to demonstrate their knowledge. And so if you just go and buy the answers, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve learned the material.”

— Sarah Eaton, assistant professor at the Werklund School of Education and educational leader in residence (academic integrity) at the University of Calgary

 

The Brandon University Health Studies Complex. (File)

The long, drawn-out drama of the Brandon University nursing students’ “compromised” exam continued this week, with the story hitting news organizations across the nation as a result of The Canadian Press picking it up.

In the end, neither the university nor the students are coming out of this situation looking too good.

Here’s a quick recap:

Last month, The Brandon Sun received a call from a relative of a nursing student at Brandon University who had been told their entire Nursing Foundations II class would have to retake their final exam.

The exam had been “seriously compromised,” according to the university.

As punishment for allegedly compromising the exam, these students were made to re-write the exam with a potential top grade of 70 per cent, with the 30 per cent balance shaved off the top as punishment.

Then, after the students had already been punished, the university launched an investigation into the matter, which reaffirmed that their earlier statement that the exam had been compromised.

It turns out that students used an online test bank, which was believed to be secured for faculty use only. The professor used some of these very same questions in the final exam.

Brandon University Students’ Union president Olusola Akintola said that students were able to figure out where the professor was getting their questions from based on sample questions asked in class.

They figured out which test bank contained the collection of 700 questions the professor was drawing from, which included the 55 questions that ended up being used in the final exam.

Sources told the Sun last month that the questions were purchased from testbankworld.org.

To be clear, the university botched their handling of this situation. They punished all students despite not all of them necessarily participating in this act of academic dishonesty. Even worse, the punishment was levied before they’d even conducted their full investigation.

But despite the abundance of outrage the Sun has received for what some perceive as us making students look bad, the class doesn’t exactly come out of this controversy looking as squeaky clean as they and their supporters on social media (and on the other end of the phone line, and out in the community) projected them as being.

If Akintola’s summary is accurate (in a severe misstep, the university declined comment), at least some students deliberately pulled test questions from the internet for the purpose of academic dishonesty.

We will likely never know how many students knew they were deliberately studying the exam questions in advance of the exam, since nobody is saying anything.

The university has decided it would no longer speak on the matter.

It’s a troubling decision from an allegedly transparent publicly funded institution. They join the class of 46-48 nursing students in keeping mum on this controversy.

It will be interesting to see what comes out of the university’s upcoming new academic integrity policy, which came to light as a result of this drawn-out, embarrassing fiasco.

They certainly need it, and should throw in a new communications policy while they’re at it.

Further, we expect the best of our students, so should we not expect the best from our professors? This practice of copying exam questions verbatim from an online resource easily accessible to students doesn’t sit well.

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