Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Maureen L. Walsh
This study explored student perceptions of academic integrity at an online nursing college with a high rate of plagiarism in Western Canada. Social cognitive theory and the theory of student cheating and plagiarism were used as the conceptual framework for this case study. Participants from a second-year cohort were sent a survey gauging their interest in participation. The ten students were interviewed to better understand what decision making they used to ensure academic integrity during their program of study. Employing a qualitative exploratory case study approach, each interview was taped and transcribed. The interview data were coded by numeric identifiers to ensure confidentiality. Themes which came through in the study included (a) deficit APA knowledge, (b) assignment instructions and academic writing in the curriculum, (c) frustrations unique to learning online, and institutional issues including teacher tactics to reduce plagiarism and the need for additional composition skill development resources. Student perceptions of academic integrity informed their decision to plagiarize, and the investigation suggested the need for a more holistic orientation experience aimed at decreasing incidents of academic integrity violations.
Academic leadership at the college in Western Canada may benefit by this study as the insights led to a project and construction of a virtual writing lab with resources for faculty and students. Increasing student awareness of the importance of academic integrity in decision making has positive social change implications for ensuring online psychiatric nurse education quality for new nurses who support a vulnerable and marginalized population.