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STUDENTS’ AND TEACHERS’ ATTITUDE AND PERCEPTIONS TOWARDS EXAMINATION MALPRACTICE IN NURSING EDUCATION
Background to the Study
Examination is the assessment of a person’s performance when confronted with series of questions, problems or tasks set for him/her in order to ascertain the amount of knowledge that he/she has acquired , extent to which he/she is able to utilize it or the quality and effectiveness of the skills he/she has developed (Asuru, 2010). Examinations are used for various purposes in teaching and learning, prominent among which are monitoring students’ progress, promotion and certification. It also serves a formative function for diagnosis of students learning problems, for motivation and improvement of student academic performance as well as summative functions for administrative purposes.
Exanimation, therefore, is very important not just to the students and their teachers, but also to the public especially to the employers of labour and professional bodies (Adarnako 2010). The importance of examination in teaching learning process not withstanding its process is ridden with some degree of malpractices at all levels of education, including nursing education. Examination malpractice is any unauthorized action, activity, behaviour or practice that is associated with the preparation, conduct and processing of examination. Other forms of assessment carried out by any person involved in preparing for examination at any level are also included (Joshua, 2011). In other words, examination malpractice is an illegal act committed by students, teachers, invigilators, supervisors, school administrators, parents or any public office or examination bodies in order to obtain underserved scores or grades. Imagie (2010) pointed out that examination malpractice is any wrong doing before during, or after any examination.
In the past, experience showed that nursing students rarely indulged in examination malpractices. However, in recent times, there have been reported cases of examination malpractice among nursing students at all levels of nursing education. This has gone from students coping from each other to a variety of sophisticated methods, for example, leakage of examination question paper. Sometimes these students prepare the answers and copy them on pieces of paper with the hope of transcribing the material into the answer sheet. Some write examination information on different parts of their bodies and clothes and recopy same during examination. Some students code lecture points into micro-computers like Casio calculators and recall them in the hall during examination (Onyechere, 2009), and so on. This may be attributed to poor study habit, craze for certificate, moral laxity in the society, etc.
Attitude according to Allport (2010) is an expression of favour or disfavor towards a person, place, thing or event. It is the interpretation os sensory information or sensory information in order to represent and understand the environment. It is our sensory experience of the world around us which involves both the recognition of environmental stimuli and actions in response stimuli. It is quite obvious that ones attitude and perceptions greatly dictate one’s values, and disposition towards issues in life.
The current scenario of examination malpractice in nursing educational institutions is very disturbing because, those directly involved in these shameful acts are those that should fight the scourge. They include parents, lecturers, heads of departments, deans of faculties, the institutions management etc and most people who have direct or an indirect connections with examination or with people who conduct examination (World Bank, 2012). Thus, examination malpractice has in all ramification greatly eroded the credibility of certificates issued in Nigerian universities and other institutions of higher learning (Ayobulu, 2012). This repugnant situation has also led to lack of recognition of academic qualifications acquired in Nigerian universities, enthronement of mediocrity into sensitive position, frequent cancellations and suspension of results and suffering of innocent candidates (Benjamin, 2012). The calibers of graduates coming out of higher institutions actually confirm the havoc examination malpractice is wrecking in our educational system. Hence the present study undertakes to explore the students and teachers attitude and perceptions towards examination malpractice.
Statement of the Problem
Examination malpractice in the nursing education system has become an intractable problem. It has became a major challenge to both the Nursing Council and nursing educational institutions at basic and tertiary levels. Thus, an oral interview with the principal of one of the Schools of Nursing in the South East, showed that in 2007, a PTS student was caught copying from the material brought into the examination hall and was subsequently expelled from the school.
Similarly an oral interview with principal of another School of Nursing UNTH revealed that in 2012 a second year student was caught copying from what she copied on her palm during examination, she was also expelled from school.
Yet in another School of Nursing an interview with the chairman of the disciplinary committee showed that between 2006 and 2013, six cases of examination malpractice were reported. Three (3) out of these cases were PTS students; one (1) entered examination hall with copied material kept inside her hair, another kept the copied material inside her under wears while the third student copied on her laps. These students were expelled from the school after necessary interrogation by the school disciplinary committee. The remaining three were second year students who went inside the examination hall each with copied material. They were caught and demoted.
Furthermore, in the nursing science department UNEC, although there were no records kept on students who indulged in examination malpractice, however, an oral interview indicates that some students indulge in one form of examination malpractice or the other. This includes copying from copied materials brought inside examination hall, students exchanging answer scripts with each other, copying from fellow student, deliberate exposure of answer scripts to other students to copy from etc. Some of the students caught over the years were reported to the university disciplinary committee while others were given stern and serious warning in the hall coupled with changing their sitting positions in the examination hall. There was no report of the culprit being expelled from the school or demoted.
In addition, there have been reports of nursing and midwifery council qualifying examinations being cancelled as a result of examination malpractice. In May 2012, in one of the schools of nursing in Aba, the Nursing Council Examination was cancelled as a result of examination malpractice. Apart from few reported cases of examination malpractice, there are possibly unidentified many cases due to the sophisticated methods being adopted by the perpetrators of the act. Moreso, many cases of examination malpractice may not be reported by the invigilators due to reasons known to them. This was one of the numerous comments made by some students interviewed by the researcher at the beginning of this research. Examination malpractice in Nursing Education may be due to moral laxity and peer-group influence.
Therefore, examination malpractice borders on some moral and ethical principles such that any student nurse who engages in it in order to pass examination lacks moral and ethical discipline which may have a negative impact on patient care. Such a person may not perform effectively when it comes to matters of conscience in patient care.
Since examination malpractice is becoming, increasingly common in nursing education, the present study is designed to explore attitude and perceptions towards examination malpractice in nursing education among teachers and students of Nursing in Enugu State.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to investigate students and teachers attitude and perceptions towards examination malpractice in nursing education, in Enugu State.
Objectives of the Study
Specific objectives of the study are to:
- Determine the attitude of students and teachers towards examination malpractice.
- Determine the causes of examination malpractice as perceived by students and teachers.
- Establish the patterns of examination malpractice among nursing students as perceived by students and teachers.
- Determine effects of examination malpractice on nursing education and practice as perceived by students and teachers.
- Elicit suggestions from students and teachers for possible solutions to examination malpractice on nursing institutions.
- Determine if any differences exist in the students and teachers perceptions of the causes of examination malpractice
- Determine if there is any difference in the students and teachers perceptions of patterns of examination malpractice.
- What are the attitude of students and teachers towards examination
- What ate the causes of examination malpractice as perceived by students and teachers?
- What are the patterns of examination malpractice as perceived by students and teachers?
- What are the students and teachers suggestions as to possible solution to examination malpractice?
- What are the differences in the students and teachers perception of patterns of examination malpractice?
There will be no significant difference in the students and teachers perceptions of
Ho1: There will be no significant difference in the attitude towards examination
malpractice between students and teachers
Ho2: There will be no significant difference in the perceived causes of
examination malpractice between students and teachers
Ho3: There will be no significant difference in the attitude towards examination malpractice among the teachers in the four schools
Ho4: There will be no significant difference in the perceived causes of examination malpractice among the teachers in the four schools
Ho5: There will be no significant difference in the attitude towards examination malpractice among the students from the four schools
Ho6: There will be no significant difference in the perceived causes of examination malpractice among the students from the four schools
Significance of the Study
The findings of this study revealed what students and teachers perceive as the causes of examination malpractice. The knowledge of this will be of great benefit to the students, teachers, school administrators, nursing profession, and the society as a whole.
Specifically, knowledge of the causes of examination malpractice as revealed by this study will assist the nurse educators, administrators, parents and government to plan for effective control and correction of any negative attitude/perception of students and teachers as regards to malpractice. For example, by conducting workshops, seminars and conferences. When this attitude and perceptions are corrected, the students will no longer be culprits and punished as a result of examination malpractice. The study may also reveal students and teachers perception of the patterns of, as well as their attitude towards examination malpractice.
The findings also revealed the teachers and students suggested solutions to examination malpractice. If the finding of the present study is published, the study will help the stakeholders to tackle the problems of examination malpractice.
Moreso, the findings of the study will help the teachers to train quality students who will render effective health care services. The society will also benefit as quality and effective health care will be rendered thereby reducing mortality and morbidity rates.
Scope of the Study
The study is delimited to students and teacher’s attitude and perceptions towards examination malpractice in nursing education in Enugu State. It is also delimited to 500 level and three hundred level basic students in the nursing schools under study. This study is delimited to students and teachers who are studying and teaching in Nursing Sciences Department, University of Nigeria Enugu campus, School of Nursing, Bishop Shanahan Hospital Nsukka, School of Nursing, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital Enugu, and School of Nursing, ESUT Hospital Parklane Enugu.
Operational Definition of Terms
Perception of examination malpractice: In this study, it entails the students and teachers disposition, about examination malpractice as will be measured by students and teachers.
Attitude: This involves students and teachers action or behaviours towards examination malpractice as regards its causes, patterns and solutions as will be measured by students and teachers.
Perceived Causes: In this study this refers to factors that prompt students and teachers to indulge in examination malpractice. Such factors include student related factors, teachers, institutions, parental, and administrative factors respectively.
Perceived Patterns of examination malpractice: This means different methods or styles used by students and teachers to indulge in examination malpractice as perceived by teachers and students.
Perceived Solutions to examination malpractice: This refers to actions or activities taken by teachers, institution and governments to stop examination malpractice. Such actions in this study include ensuring examination security and management, proper, sitting arrangement during examination, taking disciplinary action against culprits.