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Eur J Dent Educ. 2007 Aug;11(3):160-7.

The attitudes of dental students towards socially acceptable and unacceptable group working practices.

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  • 1School of Health and Social Care, University of Teeside, Middlesbrough, UK.



To explore the attitudes of undergraduate dental students towards academically unacceptable behaviour.


Three sets of vignettes were designed exploring; attitudes towards sharing essays which students present as their own work (set 1), attitudes towards purchasing an essay from a commercial website (set 2), and attitudes towards working in a group (set 3). Eighty-nine dental students read the vignettes, then indicated whether they felt the student depicted should engage in the behaviour, and whether any assessment of the work would be a fair assessment of the student's ability. In addition for the group working vignette, respondents were asked to indicate whether in that situation they would speak to the tutor about their own contribution to the group product.


Twenty-one respondents (24%) reported that students should share essays, 11 (12%) felt that the essay would be a fair assessment; 13 (15%) felt that students should buy commercially produced essays, five (6%) felt it would be a fair assessment. For the vignettes involving group work, 31 (35%) respondents felt that group-based assessments were fair, 65 (73%) of respondents felt it unlikely that they would speak to the tutor about their individual contribution.


A disturbing proportion of dental students report that cheating is acceptable, the majority feel that unacceptable academic practices are not a fair indication of students' ability. The respondents reported that they were unlikely to report the unacceptable working practices of fellow students.

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