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Faculty Integrity and Its Contribution to the Culture of Integrity in Online Nursing Courses

, Northcentral University, United States

Doctor of Education, Northcentral University . Awarded


In higher education there exists a growing concern about the potential for student cheating in online programs. At the same time, online nursing programs are increasing in number. While there is clarity about how educators perceive and experience a lack of student integrity, there is little clarity about how educators define and experience the role that faculty integrity plays in contributing to the creation of a culture of integrity, specifically in online nursing programs. Therefore, the purpose of this qualitative research was to identify how nurse educators perceive the role of faculty integrity in the creation of a culture of integrity in online nursing courses and programs. Through the lens of general systems theory, research was conducted using a single-unit, exploratory and holistic case study. Nine nurse educators selected from three small, private colleges in Southwestern Ohio participated in the study. Research instruments included semi-structured interviews with subjects, an interactive focus group, on-campus observations, and a content analysis of academic integrity publications from each participating college. Results demonstrate that nurse educators focus largely on the behaviors of students when giving consideration to the culture of integrity in online nursing courses, but they rarely, if ever, consider the role of faculty. On the cognitive level, participants spoke of faculty integrity in lofty terms, but on the behavioral level they had difficulty identifying how faculty members contribute to a culture of integrity. When asked to explore academic integrity from a systems perspective, faculty acknowledged the dangers of limiting discussion about academic integrity solely to the behaviors of students. The results imply a need for nurse educators to reexamine the underlying philosophy of academic integrity in nursing programs, as well as the need to explore academic integrity from a more systemic perspective. Further research is needed to determine the degree to which the integrity of administrators and faculty actually has an impact on the creation of cultures of integrity in online nursing courses.


Smith, M.J. Faculty Integrity and Its Contribution to the Culture of Integrity in Online Nursing Courses. Doctor of Education thesis, Northcentral University. Retrieved June 20, 2021 from .

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