Relationship Between Personality and Achievement in Nursing Student

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I S S U E S A N D IN N O V A T I O N S I N N U R S I N G E D U C A T I O N

A path model of factors influencing the academic performance of nursing students Richard Ofori BEd MSc RNT RMN
Lecturer, School of Nursing, University of Salford, Manchester, UK

and John P. Charlton BSc PhD
Research Fellow, Psychology and Life Sciences Subject Group, Bolton Institute, Bolton, UK

Submitted for publication 30 March 2001 Accepted for publication 13 February 2002

Correspondence: Richard Ofori, School of Nursing, University of Salford, Peel House, Albert Street, Eccles, Manchester M30 ONN, UK. E-mail: r.ofori@salford.ac.uk

O F O R I R . & C H A R L T O N J .P . ( 2 0 0 2 )

Journal of Advanced Nursing 38(5), 507–515

A path model of factors influencing the academic performance of nursing students Aims. The aim of this study was to build and test a model describing some of the psychological processes underlying nursing students’ academic performance. The model hypothesized that age and entry qualifications influence students’ academic motivation (locus of control, academic worries, self-efficacy, and expectations), and that this in turn affects their decisions to seek support, which subsequently influences their academic performance. Rationale and background. A literature search showed that previous academic motivation research is piecemeal. The present work sought to integrate previous findings into a coherent framework as a way of advancing our understanding of the complex interactive nature of the factors influencing student performance. Method. Path analysis was performed on data obtained from questionnaires and university records for 315 students undertaking a preregistration diploma course in nursing at a university in the Northwest of England. Results. Support-seeking was more predictive of student performance than entry qualifications. Support-seeking also mediated the age–performance relationship: greater willingness to seek support led to the better academic performance of older students. Other features of the accepted model suggested that students who judged their self-efficacy to be higher expected higher grades and that these highly optimistic expectations led to less support-seeking. Academic worries and internal control beliefs were also found to have positive influences on support-seeking. The model developed accounted for 24% of the variance in students’ academic performance. Discussion. Implications for nurse education, and interventions that focus on improving students’ academic motivation are discussed in the context of the ‘personal teacher’ support framework. Keywords: support-seeking, self-efficacy, outcome expectancy, locus of control, academic anxiety, self-regulated learning, academic performance

Introduction
Recent problems with the recruitment and retention of qualified nurses in the National Health Service (NHS) have intensified interest in student nurse attrition. Although in Ó 2002 Blackwell Science Ltd

recent years research on attrition has broadened in scope, academic failure remains the most commonly cited reason (Richardson 1996, White et al. 1999). In the nurse education literature, numerous cognitive and non-cognitive factors have been shown to predict nursing students’ 507

R. Ofori and J.P. Charlton

academic performance (McEvoy 1995, Andrew 1998, Jeffreys 1998, White et al. 1999). Typically, these factors have been studied independently, and their influences on performance have been reported as isolated effects. Studies have consistently suggested, for example, that mature nursing students do well regardless of qualifications, while non-mature students with better qualifications perform poorly with resulting high attrition rates (Houltram 1996, Kevern et al. 1999, Ofori 2000). Although such findings have informed various attempts at improving student performance, high attrition among nursing students remains a cause for concern (United Kingdom Central Council [UKCC] 1999). One reason...
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