Aims and objectives. To examine the association between trait emotional intelligence and learning strategies and their influence on academic performance among first-year accelerated nursing students.
Design. The study used a prospective survey design.
Methods. A sample size of 81 students (100% response rate) who undertook the accelerated nursing course at a large university in Sydney participated in the study. Emotional intelligence was measured using the adapted version of the 144-item Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire. Four subscales of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire were used to measure extrinsic goal motivation, peer learning, help seeking and critical thinking among the students. The grade point average score obtained at the end of six months was used to measure academic achievement.
Results. The results demonstrated a statistically significant correlation between emotional intelligence scores and critical thinking (r = 0.41; p < 0·001), help seeking (r = 0.33; p < 0·003) and peer learning (r = 0.32; p < 0·004) but not with extrinsic goal orientation (r = −0.05; p < 0·677). Emotional intelligence emerged as a significant predictor of academic achievement (β = 0.25; p = 0·023).
Conclusion. In addition to their learning styles, higher levels of awareness and understanding of their own emotions have a positive impact on students’ academic achievement. Higher emotional intelligence may lead students to pursue their interests more vigorously and think more expansively about subjects of interest, which could be an explanatory factor for higher academic performance in this group of nursing students.
Relevance to clinical practice. The concepts of emotional intelligence are central to clinical practice as nurses need to know how to deal with their own emotions as well as provide emotional support to patients and their families. It is therefore essential that these skills are developed among student nurses to enhance the quality of their clinical practice.