Failing to Fail in Undergraduate Nursing: Understanding the Phenomenon

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AIM: The aim of the study was to explore and understand the phenomenon of "failing to fail."

BACKGROUND: Phase 1 of a mixed-methods study suggested faculty in clinical settings instructed students that should not have passed preceding placements; students in didactic settings also passed exams that merited a fail. Phase 2 explored this phenomenon.

METHOD: A multisite qualitative case study targeted baccalaureate and community college faculty to support analysis using replication logic. Data collection was conducted via semistructured interview.

RESULTS: Eighteen demographically diverse cases were recruited (including age, experience, and full-/part-time status). Factors supporting failing to fail included being good enough, clinical/didactic dichotomy, team grading, and being the bad guy.

CONCLUSION: The consistency of enabling factors suggests a collective approach is required to address failing to fail, including pedagogical preparation and cross-school mechanisms for ensuring grading parity. Effort must address integrity and teaching excellence in all aspects of nursing education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-342
Number of pages8
JournalNursing Education Perspectives
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Education

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