Dental Student Academic Integrity in US Dental Schools: Current Status and Recommendations for Enhancement.
PublisherAmerican Dental Education Association
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Cheating incidents in 2006-07 led U.S. dental schools to heighten their efforts to enhance the environment of academic integrity in their institutions. The aims of this study were to document the measures being used by U.S. dental schools to discourage student cheating, determine the current incidence of reported cheating, and make recommendations for enhancing a culture of integrity in dental education. In late 2014-early 2015, an online survey was distributed to academic deans of all 61 accredited U.S. dental schools that had four classes of dental students enrolled; 50 (82%) responded. Among measures used, 98% of respondents reported having policy statements regarding student academic integrity, 92% had an Honor Code, 96% provided student orientation to integrity policies, and most used proctoring of final exams (91%) and tests (93%). Regarding disciplinary processes, 27% reported their faculty members only rarely reported suspected cheating (though required in 76% of the schools), and 40% disseminated anonymous results of disciplinary hearings. A smaller number of schools (n=36) responded to the question about student cheating than to other questions; those results suggested that reported cheating had increased almost threefold since 1998. The authors recommend that schools add cheating case scenarios to professional ethics curricula; disseminate outcomes of cheating enforcement actions; have students sign a statement attesting to compliance with academic integrity policies at every testing activity; add curricular content on correct writing techniques to avoid plagiarism; require faculty to distribute retired test items; acquire examination-authoring software programs to enable faculty to generate new multiple-choice items and different versions of the same multiple-choice tests; avoid take-home exams when assessing independent student knowledge; and utilize student assessment methods directly relevant to clinical practice.