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Arch Hellen Med, 28(3), May-June 2011, 390-399


Cheating in medical schools in Greece:
Quantitative evaluation and recommendations for resolving the problem

G. Bazoukis, I.D.K. Dimoliatis
Department of Experimental Surgery and Surgical Research, Medical School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece

OBJECTIVE Academic cheating is an inherent part of the pathology of the educational environment. Cheating is neither a new phenomenon, nor exclusively Greek. The purpose of this study was to evaluate quantitatively the practice of cheating in Greek medical schools and make recommendations for its prevention.

METHOD Four different sources of student opinion elicited between 1998 and 2009 were triangulated: 188 Ioannina University Medical School students who were questioned on their science, their school and their personal life (1998); 487 students from 6 (of the total of 7) Greek medical schools who were participating in the validation study of the Dundee Ready Education Environment Measure (DREEM) translation into Greek (2007); 246 students of the Ioannina University Medical School, questioned on the advantages and disadvantages of the draw according to which they were allocated seats during exams; 429 graduates of 6 Greek medical schools who were participating in the validation study of the development of the "I CAN!" questionnaire to assess the outcome of medical schools across Europe (2009).

RESULTS In 1998, 72% believed that there were students who had passed examinations by cheating; 59% personally knew such students, and 12% said that they themselves had passed at least one examination by cheating. In addition, 65% believed that some students passed their examinations because of their acquaintances; 30% personally knew such students, and 2% said that they themselves had passed at least one examination in this way. In responses to the DREEM cheating question, 44% agreed that cheating was a problem in their school, 29% disagreed, and 27% were unsure; the mean score of medical schools for the question of cheating was 44% (below pass), on the scale of 0=worst to 100=best; 3% of the 1,393 changes students stated that they would make to their schools was related to cheating, meritocracy and objectivity during examinations. The most commonly cited advantage of the seating draw was the restriction of cheating (67/297=23%), which was also regarded as the most common disadvantage (31/304=10%). Finally, 1% (3/469) of the changes graduates would implement in their school directly addressed cheating and 8% (37/469) touched on issues of meritocracy and objectivity during examinations.

CONCLUSIONS Twelve years ago, at least 12% of students had passed one examination on average by cheating and 2% had passed at least one examination because of their acquaintances. Today these rates are estimated to be even higher, due to advances in telecommunication technologies that facilitate cheating (invisible headphones etc). In medical schools, cheating constitutes a problem that poisons the educative process; it is unfair to those who do not cheat, and could threaten the quality of the medical practice of tomorrow. Randomization of seating during examinations, selection of examination questions and subject consecutiveness appear to be objective and effective ways of preventing cheating, among other potentially useful preventive measures, while to eliminate cheating completely it will be necessary to fully comprehend its underlying causes.

Key words: Cheating, Educational environment, Examinations, Greece, Medical education, Plagiarism, Undergraduate students.

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