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.