Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation


College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Leadership, School Counseling & Sport Management

First Advisor

Dr. Robbert J. Drummond

Second Advisor

Dr. Betty Gilkison

Third Advisor

Dr. Kenneth Wilburn

Fourth Advisor

Dr. William Wilson


Attrition from schools of nursing continues to affect almost one third of students enrolled. Attrition is costly financially and personally to the student, to the educational institution, the health care consumer and the profession.

The purpose of this study was to identify variables measurable at time of admission which might alone or together be predictive of successful persistence until graduation from a nursing program. The variables included cognitive and noncognitive characteristics measured by the Nurse Entrance Test (NET) as well as demographic and other academic achievement measurements.

A convenience sample of associate degree nursing students admitted into two successive classes of a large, urban community college was used. Two hundred sixty seven students participated, with successful students defined as those who succeeded in each course of the program and continued in enrollment in an uninterrupted fashion until graduation.

Cognitive factors included preadmission grade point average (GPA), California Achievement Test score, and measurements on the Nurse Entrance Test (NET) for Math Skills, Reading Comprehension and Rate, Testtaking Skill and Preferred Learning Style. Noncognitive factors were NET self-perceived scores on five areas of Life Stress and a Social Interaction Profile of passive and aggressive styles. Demographics were age, gender and race.

Using univariate analysis of variance and discriminant analysis, the same six characteristics were found to be significantly different between the groups of successful and nonsuccessful students and predictive of success or nonsuccess: Reading Comprehension, preadmission GPA, age and stress in three areas -academic, family and social. When a discriminant analysis using a stepwise inclusion procedure was performed, these six were included among the ten variables found together to be useful in a prediction equation. Added to these six were Testtaking Skill, Money Stress, Social Interaction Profile and gender. By measurements in all types of analyses used, Academic Stress and Reading Comprehension were consistently the strongest of the predictors of group membership. Group membership was successfully predicted in 74.33% of the cases when the reduced set of ten variables was used.

Findings from this research could be used as a basis for developing a risk profile for students either for use in making admission decisions or for identifying students at risk for nonsuccess. Nursing educators should become alert to the finding that the students in this study were at risk for failure because of noncognitive as well as because of cognitive characteristics.

Future research could focus on the multifactorial influences in a student's life which affect success. Research could focus also on the examination, implementation and evaluation of intervention strategies designed to increase retention and improve academic performance.

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