To curb rampant cheating, the TJC two-year nursing program changed their testing policy this spring.
However, numerous students are unhappy with the change, which provides students with a general concept review of missed questions instead of allowing them to see the correct answers after the test.
“Over the Christmas break, a new policy was enacted over a discussion board,” said a nursing student who will graduate in May and who asked to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions. “I was OK with a concept review then, but after the first test came and went, and I received a general concept review, I realized they were a joke.”
The new policy does not allow students to see the tests and their incorrect answers in lieu of a “concept review.” For example, if a student misses a few questions about diabetes, they are told to review the chapter covering diabetes instead of looking at the specific question and answer. But, according to the department chair of Associate Degree Nursing, Rebecca Seeton, students must request a review one-on-one with their faculty member.
“A lot of cheating was happening, and we had to take steps to correct it,” Seeton said. “If a student is going to cheat on a test, who’s to say they won’t cheat on charts, on patients, on vitals, etc…”
Cheating is an issue for many nursing programs.
“Within nursing programs throughout Texas, there are significant problems with cheating,” Dayna Davidson, director of associate degree nursing at Kilgore College, said. To curb cheating in their program, Kilgore College is now testing all students at the same time in the same room on computers. After a student completes the test, they are able to see the questions that were missed. However, TJC nursing students are not as happy with the program’s attempt to deter cheating.
When the students went to their teachers to discuss this matter, several said they were met with a loud and resounding “this is not up for discussion” response.
According to the TJC Student Handbook and the grievance policy outlined in it, if a student has an issue with a non-grade related policy, they must go to the faculty. Since the students did not feel like their concerns were being heard at that level, they turned to the Student Senate and attended the April 14 meeting to see what rights they had in the matter.
“The students did not follow the correct procedure for the matter,” Provost, Dr. “Butch” Hayes said. “The Student Senate should not have been involved.”
But, the students were not sure what to do after they had been turned away from the faculty.
“We went to the Senate because we didn’t know what to do about it,” said the nursing student.
The difference of opinion seems to be that the students feel that the tests are learning tools, but the faculty see it differently.
“We give the students books as learning tools-exams are evaluation tools,” Seeton said.
Although Ms. Seeton feels as if the classroom materials serve the educational interest, the students do not feel the same way.
“We are graded according to our test. If we do not know what we missed, how are we going to correct it?” the nursing student said. “This is our livelihood and future.”
Another student who asked to also remain anonymous feels the same.
“By seeing the test, I can see the patterns of what I missed. Everyone knows the concept,” this fourth-semester nursing student said. “If the teachers had never made a mistake on a test that would be one thing, but there are grammatical errors and misspellings, also mistakes on the answers from what was counted wrong and the answer in the book.”
After the students went to the Student Senate they were referred to the grievance process outlined in the student handbook and, with the help of the Student Senate, issued a formal complaint.
In order to do that, 18 students, four from each level of the program and two from the Jacksonville campus, met with the faculty and the Dean of Allied Health and Nursing Paul Monagan on April 16 to present the problem officially to them.
Each had a chance to voice their opinions on the matter with Dean Monagan writing down the complaints on a board. After the meeting was over, the complaints were compiled into one document and that served as the student’s written complaint.
“Step two of the grievance policy is to issue a written complaint to the faculty, and that is what I was there for, just simply as a scribe,” Dean Monagan said. “After that, the written response was given to the faculty. They had five days to come to respond to the students about the concerns.”
The faculty issued their response on April 24. “After careful consideration of the concerns voiced by the nursing students related to the current test review policy, the faculty of the Associate Degree Nursing Program, recommended individualized student testing feedback.” The method of feedback will be determined per course by the student’s faculty in either the classroom or individually. The response stated that the Dean and the Provost are also working toward issues concerning the testing center. The change will go into affect beginning Fall 2009.
After the faculty response is given to all the students in each of the four levels of the program, the students can either choose to accept or reject the resolution.
At press time, a response by the students had not been made. For updates check www.tjcnewspaper.com.