A Manitoba university says an investigation into what it has called a compromised second-year nursing exam in December has determined the questions were obtained and distributed from a “pirated” version of a textbook publisher’s test bank.
A statement Friday from Brandon University says the exam had been prepared based on the test bank, which it says is common practice, and was believed to be secured for faculty use only.
But the school says “today’s technology” means that pirated versions of exams and test banks can be found for sale online, and that the compromised exam and its test bank were purchased on a website specifically devoted to the sale of such materials.
The investigation discovered that some students used the questions to prepare for their exam expecting, and then finding, the questions to be the same.
It notes that other students declined to make use of the test bank.
Students in the class of about four dozen were given the chance to repeat the exam, with a penalty applied, and the school says all students retook the exam and passed.
“Though academic dishonesty is nothing new, we know that Brandon University has much work to do in our efforts to strengthen our culture of academic integrity. Our students and their Student Union representatives will be our partners in all of that work,” the school said in its statement.
The statement explained that the decision to offer all students the opportunity to retake the exam was due to a shortage of time to deal with the complex situation. It said offering the second exam meant students would be able to move on to second-term classes and clinical placements without having to lose a year of their studies.
It said penalties may be adjusted for individual circumstances. Students also have the opportunity to appeal their penalties or final grades through the normal university appeal processes.
The school said it has been having discussions with students and faculty about the incident, adding it could result in changes that include putting less focus on grades.
“New criteria will be used to expand our consideration of the full measure of each student as a whole person, starting with their admission, which may include personal interviews and portfolios,” the statement said.