Failing to Fail in Undergraduate Nursing: Understanding the Phenomenon

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Abstract

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.

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