On-line version ISSN 0379-8577
THEART, Cecilia J. and SMIT, Ilze. The status of academic integrity amongst nursing students at a nursing education institution in the Western Cape. Curationis [online]. 2012, vol.35, n.1, pp. 1-8. ISSN 0379-8577.
Honesty is regarded as a basic ethical value in all educational programmes, and academic integrity is of undisputed importance in educational environments. The literature reviewed revealed that academic dishonesty is wide-ranging and also encountered in the nursing education environment. This phenomenon is of concern to the nursing fraternity because of the proven positive correlation between unethical academic practices and future unethical professional behaviour. Limited research data regarding academic dishonesty at nursing education institutions in South Africa and this correlation motivated the present study. The purpose was to examine the status of academic integrity amongst nursing students at a nursing education institution in the Western Cape. Formulated objectives guided investigation of several variables which impact upon academic integrity, for example the incidence of and student perceptions around academic dishonesty. A quantitative, descriptive survey design was used, with a self-reported questionnaire (based on literature review and study objectives) designed to obtain information about academic dishonesty. Provision was also made for qualitative input from the respondents by including three open-ended questions. It was found that academic dishonesty was a reality at the nursing education institution where this study was done. Cheating associated with plagiarism and assignments was identified as the main problem area. An unacceptably high level of dishonesty in completion of practical records was also an area of concern. The main recommendations are development and implementation of a code of honour and implementation of comprehensive academic integrity policies at the nursing education institution, with practical measures aimed at combating cheating in tests and examinations.