Manitoba

Pirated test bank answers circulated among students compromised nursing exam, Brandon University says

The school said an investigation found a pirated version of that test bank — the answers of which were identical to the ones on the compromised exam — turned up for sale online, and was then circulated among students in the nursing class.

Questions on December exam identical to ones included in online textbook resource: statement

Penalties applied to the new exam may be adjusted for individual circumstances, the university said. Students can also still appeal their penalties or final grades through the university’s regular appeals process. (CBC)

Students at Brandon University were allowed to re-write a second-year nursing exam, but a penalty was applied to all of their grades.

The penalty applied regardless of whether students had used a pirated test bank containing identical questions to the ones on the first exam, which the school later deemed to be compromised. 

In January, the school said students in the class of just under 50 were facing disciplinary action after questions surrounding academic integrity were raised surrounding a December exam.

In a written statement put out on Friday, the school said the exam's questions were prepared based on a test bank provided by a textbook publisher that was believed to be secured for faculty use only, which the school said is common practice.

The school said an investigation found a pirated version of that test bank — the answers of which were identical to the ones on the compromised exam — turned up for sale online, and was then circulated among students in the nursing class.

The school initially said students in the class would be offered a chance to repeat the exam with a maximum possible grade of 70 per cent. 

In the statement on Friday, the school said all students took and passed the new exam, although they didn't all use the pirated test bank for the original test. 

Penalties applied to the new exam may be adjusted for individual circumstances, the statement said. Students can also still appeal their penalties or final grades through the university's regular appeals process.

Possible changes to curriculum

The university said it has limited its public statements on the compromised exam while it investigated, which may have helped spread misinformation.

"We regret that our silence allowed rumours to circulate in the community and online," the statement said. 

"We must balance the legitimate public interest in this incident against our equally vital need to protect the interests and the privacy of all of our students, both during the past few weeks and in the future."

The school said as a result of conversations about the incident with students and staff, it is considering making changes to its admissions criteria, curriculum delivery and student evaluation processes in its faculty of health studies.

The school said the unspecified potential changes will aim to de-centre grades as the sole measure of student performance.

"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. 

"There will be renewed focus on professionalism, ethics, collaboration, teambuilding and empathy. These are in line with current best practices in healthcare education."

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