Pre-registration diploma students: a quantitative study of entry characteristics and course outcomes
Nurse education has been transformed over the last decade and continuing change is likely. Nurse educators are responsible for meeting the quality assurance standards of local stakeholders and student retention and progress are important aspects of this process. As part of a monitoring exercise, an enquiry was set up to review pre-registration selection and recruitment strategies and to establish if there were any significant relationships between the characteristics of pre-registration diploma entrants and their academic achievement or completion rates. A multi-factorial tree-based technique was used for this purpose. This is one of the first British studies to consider both academic performance and completion rates for pre-registration diploma students. Four cohorts (N = 355) were studied. There was marked heterogeneity in student characteristics with a wide age distribution, a significant proportion of mature entrants with previous care experience, and considerable diversity in terms of education. Education and age were significant predictors of academic achievement: entrants with a minimum of two A levels and mature women with recent study experience did particularly well. Younger recruits with modest educational qualifications on entry performed less well in their assessments of theoretical knowledge. Younger students tended to leave more regularly, and well-qualified entrants showed a greater tendency to complete, although these relationships were not statistically significant. Multi-factorial analysis demonstrated that organisational and course characteristics have a conjoint influence on course outcomes. Although the study is concerned with Project 2000 in the United Kingdom, there are lessons to be drawn concerning the selection and support of non-traditional recruits into nursing.