Written by M. Villanueva

In Dean Catherine Vincent's pediatric pathophysiology course, all of her white middle-class students did exceptionally well but a Mexican-American student in her class failed miserably.  What was the reason for the minority student's failure?  Could it be mere coincidence?  It would not be the first time in history that a teacher handed out grades according to his/her racist beliefs.  “Studies have reported faculty bias toward minority students in grading papers, judging clinical performance, and assessing written examinations” (Villarruel, Canales, & Torres, 2001). “Nurse educators need to acknowledge that, with a few exceptions, racism is endemic in our programs” (Barbee & Gibson, 2001).

What can be done when the faculty at Oakland University sides with Dean Vincent?  Isn't it convenient that her exams are graded by hand affording her the opportunity to grade exams in any manner she pleases including racist ones?

Whites make up 86% of the registered nurse population.  Despite the dramatic increase of Hispanics in the U.S., there has been no significant increase in the number of Hispanic nurses.  I wonder what's keeping Hispanics out of nursing?



In all fairness, All the materials that made my grade are here for public viewing.  You can judge for yourself how I was graded.  This was a 2-credit hour course that met once a week.  The grade was calculated as follows:



Class Participation
Oral Presentation
Class Participation
Oral Presentation
Total 100% Cumulative Grade 73%

Class Participation

Even though I attended every class when others in the class routinely were absent, I received a failing grade because I did not talk enough.  I did not feel comfortable in the class.  I am a extremely quite person and when I spoke in the class, I was made to feel very conscious that I was the only minority in the class plus that fact that I wasn't wearing fancy clothes like my upper-middle-class counterparts.

Oral Presentation

Evaluation (45K)


I did very poorly on the exams.  The first exam, I put a decent effort into preparing for it.   I asked Dean Vincent what the other student's cumulative grades were (just the scores, no names) but she refused to tell me.  From my understanding, everyone received high marks.  I would have like to see the other students responses on the exams to compare how I was graded.  I can't believe that someone who graduated cum laude in an undergraduate program would consistently score poorly on three exams.  Even though Dean Vincent defended using essay exams by stating multiple choice exams do not reflect true intelligence, her exam questions did not in the least reflect abstract thought:  It was all straight memorization in which a multiple choice exam would have been more than adequate.  Everyone in my class did well on all Dean Vincent's exams.  In fact, most of my class mates were more concerned with our nursing research class with subject matter such as quantitative analysis.  Many students in my nursing research class failed the first exam which was multiple choice -- I did not.

Exam 1

After receiving a 73% on the first exam, I was scared.  I put a serious effort into getting an "A" on the second exam.  Dean Vincent said I did not go into enough detail on the first exam.  I had memorized all the material and was frantically writing as fast as I could on the second exam.  Still, I ran out of time, and was unable to complete the exam.  When Dean Vincent forced me to hand in my exam, I asked her if I could save time and just tell her the answers to the questions I did not answer but she refused.  Even with the effort I put into the questions I answered, she still deducted considerable points off of my completed questions.

Exam 2

After recieving a 60% percent on my second exam I realized it was impossible to pass the class.  All the extra time and effort I had put into this 2-credit hour course had kept me from earning an "A" in nursing research.  I did take the third exam but I didn't bother to study for it.

Exam 3

Failing this class prevents me from taking any further classes in the nurse practitioner program.


    Villarruel, A., Cananales, M., & Torres, S. (2001). Bridges and barriers: Educational mobility of Hispanic nurses. Journal of Nursing Education, 40 (6), 245-51.
    Barbee, E., & Gibson, S. (2001) Our dismal progress: The recruitment of non-whites into nursing. Journal of Nursing Education, 40 (6), 243-244.

The World of Nursing Through Latino Eyes