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Keywords:

  • academic performance;
  • ELAS ;
  • English as an additional language;
  • instrument development;
  • nursing;
  • nursing students;
  • psychometrics

Abstract

Aim

This article is a report of the psychometric testing of the five-item English Language Acculturation Scale, an indicator of English language usage as reported by first-year undergraduate nursing students.

Background

Nursing students who have English as an additional language can struggle clinically and academically due to low levels of English language proficiency. A self-report screening tool may provide early identification of nursing students at risk of underperformance.

Design

Prospective correlational survey design.

Methods

The study used a prospective, correlational survey design. In 2010 and 2011, 1400 commencing nursing students were surveyed about their English language usage using the English Language Acculturation Scale. In addition to descriptive statistics, exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses and Cronbach's alpha reliabilities, the relationship between English Language Acculturation Scale score and Grade Point Average at the end of first year was computed.

Results

Results show good reliability and construct validity of the English Language Acculturation Scale. Principal component analysis yielded only one component in which all five items loaded highly. This was further supported by confirmatory factor analysis, with standardized factor loadings ranging from 0·79 to 0·90. The results also showed strong association between English language use and academic performance; students in the high English Language Acculturation Scale score group were most likely to be in the high Grade Point Average group at the end of first year.

Conclusion

Language screening tools can be an important strategy to identify nursing students at risk of underperforming in their studies. The English Language Acculturation Scale has the potential to be a useful brief self-report measure for commencing nursing students.