Journal of Nursing Education

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Predictors of Success in Nursing School and on State Board Examinations in a Predominantly Black Baccalaureate Nursing Program

Mary Ann Dell, RN, MN; Gerald Halpin, EdD

Abstract

ABSTRACT

High school grade point averages, Scholastic Aptitude Test verbal and quantitative scores, and National League for Nursing Pre-Nursing Examination scores were obtained for 456 black students enrolled in a private baccalaureate school of nursing. Discriminant analysis showed that these measures significantly differentiated between dropouts and graduates. For 181 graduates, these same predictors plus college grade point average also significantly differentiated between passers and failers on the State Board Examination.

Abstract

ABSTRACT

High school grade point averages, Scholastic Aptitude Test verbal and quantitative scores, and National League for Nursing Pre-Nursing Examination scores were obtained for 456 black students enrolled in a private baccalaureate school of nursing. Discriminant analysis showed that these measures significantly differentiated between dropouts and graduates. For 181 graduates, these same predictors plus college grade point average also significantly differentiated between passers and failers on the State Board Examination.

For many years researchers have attempted to accurately predict which student nurses will successfully achieve their goals of becoming registered nurses and which will not. A number of these researchers have used cognitive predictor measures such as Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores, National League for Nursing (NLN) test scores and grade point averages (GPA), yet arriving at somewhat different results. Litherland (1966), in looking at collegiate and diploma graduates, found a positive relationship between high school GPA and State Board Examination (SBE) results (but correlations of only .23 to .63 with a median of .36). Perez (1977) used SAT scores successfully in predicting SBE results, especially the SAT- verbal, but stated that the freshman year GPA was the best predictor. While Muhlenkamp (1957), in predicting SBE scores, found only one significant correlation using SAT scores (between SAT-verbal and the Psychiatric Nursing SBE), Kovacs (1970), in studying three baccalaureate schools, concluded that the SAT scores were the best predictors for SBE results.

In examining NLN test scores, Katzell (1970) studied graduates of two-year programs, diploma programs, and collegiate programs and found a significant degree of relationship between performance on these tests and SBE scores. Brandt, Hastie and Schumann (1966) concluded that nursing theory grades and the NLN Medical-Surgical Achievement Test scores were the best predictors of SBE results. Muhlenkamp (1957) found the best predictors to be the NLN Natural Science Test and the seventh semester GPA with multiple correlations ranging from .66 to .83.

In recent years, studies are more numerous in attempting prediction of nursing GPA than in trying to predict SBE results. In fact, there are only seven studies in the latter category during the last 10 years in nursing literature (Perez, 1977). Also, studies involving non-baccalaureate nursing education have outnumbered those concerning baccalaureate programs. Studies involving predominantly black schools are rare. In a study of three ethnic groups predominantly Caucasian, Haney, Michael and Martois (1976) found that predictors for Caucasians were not useful for the black group and vice versa. What predictors, then, are best for predominantly black colleges? Or are those predictors really different?

The study herein described was undertaken to determine which predictors were best for predicting success in a predominantly black baccalaureate nursing program and success on SBE, and if these predictors were the same for both success in the program and success on SBE. The predictor variables used were SAT-verbal scores, SAT-quantitative scores, high school GPA, NLN Pre-Nursing Examination, and the collegiate senior year (cumulative) GPA. The objectives were twofold: if the first four variables listed above significantly differentiate between those subjects who graduate from a baccalaureate school of nursing and those who drop out, transfer, or fail, then the predictor variables making the larger contribution to the prediction will be identified. Secondly, if all five of the listed variables significantly differentiate between those subjects who pass the SBE and those who fail on the first attempt, then the predictor variables making the larger contribution to the prediction will be identified.

Table

TABLE 1DISCRIMINANT ANALYSIS OF FOUR DEPENDENT VARIABLES PREDICTING SUCCESS OR FAILURE IN GRADUATING FROM A BACCALAUREATE SCHOOL OF NURSING

TABLE 1

DISCRIMINANT ANALYSIS OF FOUR DEPENDENT VARIABLES PREDICTING SUCCESS OR FAILURE IN GRADUATING FROM A BACCALAUREATE SCHOOL OF NURSING

Procedure

Subjects for this study were 456 black students admitted to a private, predominantly black, baccalaureate school of nursing during the five-year period, 1970 through 1974. Scores and grade point averages were collected from records of these students within the school of nursing by a clerk in an anonymous fashion so as to protect confidentiality. There were 181 students who successfully completed their course of study and took the State Board Examination. These were used in the second analysis.

Two separate discriminant analyses were computed. For the first discriminant analysis, four variables were used to differentiate between those 181 who graduated and those who failed to graduate from this school. The variables used were SAT-verbal, SAT-quantitative, high school GPA and the NLN Pre-Nursing Examination.

The second discriminant analysis utilized the same variables plus the college GPA to differentiate between those who passed the SBE to become registered and those who failed to do so on the first attempt.

When significant discriminations were obtained, a oneway analysis of variance was computed for each significant variable.

Results

In the first analysis, the four variables of SAT-verbal, SAT-quantitative, high school GPA, and the NLN PreNursing Examination significantly differentiated between the graduates and non-graduates with a chi square (4) of 51.48, p <. 001.

As can be seen by inspecting the means and standard deviations in Table 1, there was a significant difference between subjects graduating and failing to graduate on each dependent measure. The high school GPA and the NLN Pre-Nursing Examination possessed the higher discriminating weights when investigating the variables from a multivariate perspective.

In the second analysis, the four variables of the first analysis plus the college GPA significantly differentiated between those who passed the SBE and those who did not with a chi square (5) of 23.76, p < .001.

Table

TABLE 2DISCRIMINANT ANALYSIS OF FIVE DEPENDENT VARIABLES PREDICTING PASS OR FAIL ON STATE BOARD EXAMINATIONS

TABLE 2

DISCRIMINANT ANALYSIS OF FIVE DEPENDENT VARIABLES PREDICTING PASS OR FAIL ON STATE BOARD EXAMINATIONS

As can be seen by inspecting the means and standard deviations in Table 2, there was a significant difference between subjects passing the SBE and those failing to do so on each dependent measure. From a multivariate perspective, the college GPA possessed the highest discriminating weight followed by the SAT-verbal and then the NLN PreNursing Examination.

Discussion

Since every predictor variable significantly differentiated on both criterion measures, all of these variables are seen as important in predicting success for black students in baccalaureate nursing education. Indications are, however, that perhaps more attention needs to be given to NLN Pre-Nursing Examination scores than is evidenced in the literature, at least in predominantly black baccalaureate schools. From the study reported here and those reviewed in the literature, predictors for black nursing graduates seem to be the same as for other ethnic groups. Indications are that using SAT scores and high school GPA as admissions criteria is good practice, and that where NLN Pre-Nursing Examination scores are not used, their use would be instituted.

A very interesting finding was the differences between looking at graduates versus non-graduates and looking at SBE passers and failers. High school GPA and SAT-quantitative were less significant as predictors when looking at SBE results than at graduation-nongraduation. The NLN Pre-Nursing Examination is the common predictor variable with high discriminant weight in both groups.

Further studies to involve other predominantly black schools of nursing should be carried out to establish more definitive conclusions. Other variables could be used such as grades in science courses and in nursing theory, other NLN test scores and the American College Testing Program Examination.

In summary, relationships between SAT scores, high school GPA, NLN Pre-Nursing Examination scores, college GPA, and SBE scores were examined at a private, predominantly black four-year school of nursing. Discriminant analysis procedures were used with one-way analyses of variance to determine types of data most influential in predicting success in completing nursing school and on the SBE. These variables did significantly differentiate the graduates from the non-graduates and the SBE passers from the failers on the first attempt.

References

  • Brandt, E.M., Hastie, B., & Schumann, D. (1966). Predicting success on SBE: Relationship between course grades, selected test scores and state board examinations. Nursing Research, 15, 62-69.
  • Haney, R., Michael, W.B., & Martois, J. (1976). The prediction of success of three ethnic groups in the academic components of a nursing-training program at a large metropolitan hospital. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 36, 421-431.
  • Katzell, M. (1970). Upward mobility in nursing. Nursing Outlook, 18, 36-39.
  • Kovacs, A. (1970). Predicting success in three selected collegiate schools of nursing. (Doctoral dissertation). Dissertation Abstracts International 31, 3170A.
  • Litherland, R.L. (1966). Iowa tests of educational development as a predictor of academic success in Iowa schools of professional nursing. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Iowa, 1966). Dissertation Abstracts International, 27, 1240A.
  • Muhlenkamp, A. (1971). Let's examine - prediction of state board scores in a baccalaureate program. Nursing Outlook, 19, 57.
  • Perez, T.L. (1977). Investigation of academic moderator variables to predict success on state board of nursing examinations in a baccalaureate nursing program. Journal of Nursing Education, 16, 16-23.

TABLE 1

DISCRIMINANT ANALYSIS OF FOUR DEPENDENT VARIABLES PREDICTING SUCCESS OR FAILURE IN GRADUATING FROM A BACCALAUREATE SCHOOL OF NURSING

TABLE 2

DISCRIMINANT ANALYSIS OF FIVE DEPENDENT VARIABLES PREDICTING PASS OR FAIL ON STATE BOARD EXAMINATIONS

10.3928/0148-4834-19840401-05

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