Social desirability bias in relation to academic cheating behaviors of nursing students

Amanda Rene Winrow, Amy Reitmaier-Koehler, Brian Paul Winrow


The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between academic cheating and a series of academic and demographic characteristics, as well as the relationship between the various characteristics and social desirability bias.  The population for the study was comprised of 626 nursing students (pre-nursing, baccalaureate students formally admitted into the program, and graduate students) attending a regional comprehensive university located in the Midwest.  The results of the study revealed that 53.8% of undergraduate students and 36.5% of graduate students self-reported having engaged in at least one of the 16 forms of academic cheating during the previous semester, primarily in acts classified as plagiarism. The current study further explored misconduct among students seeking a BSN and found that 35.2% of students participated in at least one act of professional misconduct in the clinical setting. There were statistically significant differences between the characteristics of age and prevalence of plagiarism-related academic cheating, planned cheating, spontaneous cheating, and professional misconduct, implying that older students cheat less frequently.  Likewise, the more credits a student completed the less likely they were to plagiarize or engage in spontaneous cheating.  Additionally, older students and students having completed higher number of credits received higher scores on the social desirability scale, implying they had a higher tendency to display social desirability bias.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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