Journal of Nursing Education

Major Article 

Effects of Associate Degree Nursing Students' Characteristics on Perceptions and Experiences of Mentoring

Caroline M. Peltz, PhD, RN, MSHSA, CNE; Delbert M. Raymond, PhD, RN

Abstract

Background:

Mentoring has been identified as a key education program support structure to facilitate student success.

Method:

A cross-sectional study was conducted to investigate how associate degree nursing program students experience mentoring and persistence. Mentoring perceptions were evaluated using the College Student Mentoring Scale. Associate degree nursing students throughout the state of Michigan were recruited for an online survey.

Results:

Sample characteristics (N = 283) resembled those compiled by the National League for Nursing. The study found that men met with a mentor more frequently and perceived greater psychological, emotional, and academic support than women. Part-time students and students who had never failed a nursing course also reported they met more frequently with a mentor than full-time students and those who had failed a nursing course.

Conclusion:

The findings contribute to an evidence base to support the further development and evaluation of mentoring programs for nursing students. [J Nurs Educ. 2016;55(5):258–265.]

Abstract

Background:

Mentoring has been identified as a key education program support structure to facilitate student success.

Method:

A cross-sectional study was conducted to investigate how associate degree nursing program students experience mentoring and persistence. Mentoring perceptions were evaluated using the College Student Mentoring Scale. Associate degree nursing students throughout the state of Michigan were recruited for an online survey.

Results:

Sample characteristics (N = 283) resembled those compiled by the National League for Nursing. The study found that men met with a mentor more frequently and perceived greater psychological, emotional, and academic support than women. Part-time students and students who had never failed a nursing course also reported they met more frequently with a mentor than full-time students and those who had failed a nursing course.

Conclusion:

The findings contribute to an evidence base to support the further development and evaluation of mentoring programs for nursing students. [J Nurs Educ. 2016;55(5):258–265.]

The mentoring of students has become a national priority as an effective strategy to improve retention rates (Girves, Zepeda, & Gwathmey, 2005). Retention facilitates matriculation toward successful graduation of college students. Mentoring programs that enhance retention by encouraging student persistence through to graduation carry both individual and societal benefits. Promoting advanced education and career advancement can assist the United States in remaining internationally competitive. Nationally, a wide range of college campuses have adopted mentoring as an initiative to foster college adjustment and improve persistence (Barefoot, 2004; Swing, 2004). There is a growing body of literature that supports the potential for mentor programs to increase the retention and graduation rates of students. However, there has been great variability in the attributes of mentoring programs, as well as limited development and evaluation of theory-based programs in nursing focused on mentoring. Developing this evidence will help educational institutions understand how mentoring is perceived and experienced by students, and also identify the appropriate supports for individual students to enhance their academic success.

Research investigating mentoring within associate degree nursing (ADN) students merits attention. Jeffreys (2007) described a traditional student as one who is 18 years old and enters the university as an undergraduate directly from high school. The traditional student is found more commonly at 4-year institutions. Benner, Sutphen, Leonard, and Day (2010) identified that the majority of nursing graduates (60%) graduate from ADN programs. The nontraditional student is enrolled most commonly in a community college (Jeffreys, 2007; Thorsheim, LaCost, & Narum, 2010). Jeffreys (2007) described a nontraditional student as an individual who meets one or more of the following criteria: age 25 years or older, commuter, part-time enrollment, male, member of an ethnic or racial minority group, English as a second language, has dependent children, has a general equivalency diploma (GED), and requires remedial classes. Other researchers (Crisp & Cruz, 2009; Jacobi, 1991; Jeffreys, 2004; Shelton, 2003, 2012) found that the majority of the research on the topic of mentoring has been conducted at 4-year institutions. Results for 4-year college or university students may not be generalizable to students who are attending a community college. Crisp (2010) acknowledged that additional research is needed on the topic of mentoring at community colleges. The topic of mentoring remains a relatively new area of research that is at an early stage of development (Allen, Eby, O'Brien, & Lentz, 2008) and affords the opportunity to enrich the evidence base on which to build a consistent approach to mentoring in nursing education.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES, 2002, 2008) reported that nontraditional students do not persist in postsecondary education as well as traditional students. Consistent with this, the NCES (2011) reported that within 6 years of enrollment, only 9% of community college students had obtained an ADN versus 22% of students enrolled in baccalaureate nursing (BSN) programs. One in three nontraditional students left school without a credential, compared with one in five traditional students (Hoachlander, Sikora, & Horn, 2003). The research of Gilardi and Guglielmetti (2011) also suggested employment rates of nontraditional students were particularly predictive of drop-out rates greater than those experienced by traditional students. Barker (2007) suggested that issues of socialization, isolation, and marginalization may result in unequally prepared students and explain lower persistence rates. Nontraditional students, including those who have earned a GED, who work off-campus, who do not participate in campus activities, or who are older, are reported as being less likely to persist in school. In addition, nontraditional students are less likely to remain in college if they have children at home, are single parents, and are paying for their own education (Crisp, 2010). Building on these ideas, Hu and Ma (2010) investigated mentoring and student persistence in college students and reported that the perceived importance and frequency of seeking support and encouragement from an assigned mentor were positively related to persistence. They also pointed to a gap in the literature on mentoring relative to how mentoring needs may differ by student characteristics and how different mentoring activities are related to persistence.

Because the majority of RNs are educated in ADN programs that are housed in the community college system (Benner et al., 2010), it is essential to explore the issues of persistence and mentoring in this population of nontraditional students. This article describes ADN student involvement in a mentoring relationship and student characteristics as related to the supports of mentoring and students' perceived ability to persist in nursing school.

Literature Review

Defining Mentoring

The notion of mentoring has been discussed since the times of ancient Greece (Crisp & Cruz, 2009). Yet regardless of its historic links, a common definition of mentoring has proved elusive. The disciplines of business, psychology, and education have significantly influenced how mentoring is defined. Levinson, Darrow, Klein, Levinson, and McKee (1978), within the discipline of psychology, highlighted moral and emotional support when they described mentoring as “defined not in terms of formal roles but in terms of the character of the relationship and the functions it serves” (p. 98). Also within psychology, Schockett and Haring-Hidore (1985) suggested two key mentoring functions were psychosocial (e.g., role modeling, encouragement, counseling, and movement toward friendship) and vocational (e.g., educating, consulting, sponsoring, and protecting). Kram and Isabella (1985), within the discipline of business, also proposed the functions of a mentoring relationship were to provide career and psychosocial support. Also within the discipline of business, Campbell and Campbell (1997), and later Roberts (2000), refined this and suggested mentoring was a more formal process in which experienced employees provided support and guidance to enhance the success and career development for less-experienced employees.

In the discipline of education, Anderson and Shannon (1988) stated the purpose of mentoring was focused on professional and personal development. They suggested mentoring occurred within a caring relationship as a nurturing process between the more experienced person as a role model, consultant, and supporter of the protégé. Blackwell (1989) stated that mentoring “is a process by which persons of a superior rank, special achievements, and prestige instruct, counsel, guide and facilitate the intellectual and/or career development of persons identified as protégés” (p. 9). In slight contrast to this, Crisp (2010) suggested that students experience forms of mentoring support in or out of a formal mentoring program, from one or more individuals in a student's life beyond a focus on the more experienced colleague. Crisp and Cruz (2009) found more than 50 definitions of mentoring. Many of these definitions were broad, lacking depth and clarity. The authors found that mentoring relationships could be formal or informal, structured or spontaneous, and long-term or short-term. In addition, although the person serving as a mentor often was assumed to be an experienced professional colleague, these definitions left room for many people to serve in this role, including family and friends. Systematic investigation of mentoring relationships can aid in clarifying mentoring roles and in identifying who might best serve in the mentoring roles.

Mentoring Nursing Students

Looking across multiple disciplines, Jacobi (1991) and Crisp and Cruz (2009) completed extensive reviews of the literature on mentoring. Within nursing, Loftin, Newman, Gilden, Bond, and Dumas (2013) conducted an integrative review of intervention strategies used by nursing programs to improve minority student success. These researchers found mixed results regarding the impact of mentoring as a contributing factor to student retention and graduation rates. Crisp and Cruz (2009) reported additional research was needed to understand the impact of various mentoring activities on different groups of students. This is consistent with the gap found in the existing nursing literature after conducting an extensive review of the literature on mentoring of nursing students. Although Loftin et al. (2013) called for increased intervention studies to be conducted, the mixed findings may suggest additional foundation work is needed on which to build theoretically sound programs.

A number of authors have proposed mentoring models, but such models have been largely untested. For example, Nugent, Childs, Jones, and Cook (2004) conducted an exemplary literature review to develop the Mentorship Model for Retention of Minority Students (MMRMS), but no formal model testing was reported; instead, only overall retention rates were summarized for what appeared to be a sample of 16 students. Although the MMRMS focused on minority student retention in BSN programs, the model highlights that mentor roles can be performed by faculty, students, or community nurse leaders, and further suggested that mentoring may include academic support, financial support, self-development, and professional and leadership development. A number of mentoring interventions also have been reported in the literature, yet most are unclear regarding how interventions were structured within a conceptual framework and do not report on conceptual model testing.

The impact of faculty on student persistence has been reported as inconsistent in the nursing literature. Shelton (2003, 2012) investigated the relationship of faculty support with student retention in a sample of ADN students (N = 458). Students were divided into three groups: those who had persisted throughout their program (n = 300), those who voluntarily withdrew (n = 83), and those who withdrew due to academic failure (n = 75). Students who persisted through the program reported experiencing significantly greater faculty support than the other two groups. The results of the investigation suggested that psychological and functional support by nursing faculty contributed to student retention.

Archer (2003) performed a qualitative study investigating the perceptions of BSN students (N = 10) regarding the role of faculty and peers in students' decisions to persist in a program. Reported themes suggested that student intentions to persist in the program were influenced the most by interactions with their peers, not from interactions with the faculty. Alternatively, negative interactions with faculty were reported to contribute to intentions to withdraw from the program. These findings suggest varying impact by faculty on student persistence and could in part be related to differing nursing program types and student characteristics (i.e., university and community college).

Jeffreys (2004, 2012, 2015) has written extensively on nursing student retention. Through an exhaustive review of the literature, she has developed the Nursing Undergraduate Retention and Success (NURS) Model. The NURS framework includes but extends well beyond the focus of mentoring. Professional integration factors are at the center of the model. These factors include faculty advisement and helpfulness, enrichment programs, and peer mentoring-tutoring. Additional model constructs include environmental factors, academic factors, student characteristics, student affective factors, and psychological outcomes. Jeffreys (2007) investigated the factors in the NURS Model (Jeffrey, 2004) using 1,156 undergraduate nursing students' perceptions about the factors that supported or restricted their retention in their program of study. The majority of students in the sample (86%) were ADN students. Jeffreys (2007) found that nontraditional nursing students perceived environmental factors to be the most influential in supporting or restricting their retention. The environmental factors consisted of factors outside of the academic setting. Some of the environmental factors included family financial and emotional support, family responsibilities, employment, living arrangements, transportation, and encouragement by friends. Jeffreys (2007) concluded that nurse educators must continue to expand the teaching role into a mentoring role by creating positive family-faculty-friend networks while advocating for changes that address the financial and time demands of nontraditional students.

Miller and Leadingham (2010) investigated a faculty-driven student mentoring program developed with the NURS Model. The program was designed for licensed practical nurse (LPN)-to-RN students (N = 50) enrolled in an ADN program. Using a quasi-experimental design, the authors found no significant difference in either course passing rates or subsequent course enrollment between students who participated in the formal mentoring program (n = 31) and those who did not (n = 19).

Although the body of research on mentoring continues to grow with both qualitative and quantitative investigation, there is not clear agreement about what makes mentoring successful (Crisp & Cruz, 2009; Jacobi, 1991; Loftin et al., 2013). One limitation of research on the topic of mentoring has been inconsistencies in how mentoring is defined and a lack of consensus regarding a conceptual framework that attempts to relate mentoring to outcomes.

Toward a Mentoring Framework

The nursing literature describes a number of mentoring models; however, the models often have not been tested for model fit or have demonstrated inconsistent results. Coming from the discipline of education, Nora and Crisp (2007) proposed that mentoring is perceived and experienced as four interrelated constructs as the domains of mentoring: (a) psychological and emotional support, (b) goal setting and career paths, (c) academic subject knowledge support, and (d) the existence of a role model. This proposed framework, focused on mentoring, was the synthesis of an extensive review of research on persistence and mentoring. The initial 36-item survey created to investigate the domains was testing in a sample of 200 students at a 2-year college. The survey tool was refined to 25 items and formally titled as the College Student Mentoring Scale (CSMS) (Crisp, 2009). The CSMS, as a measure of the four mentoring domains, was fit tested in a sample of 351 students at a 2-year college. Cronbach's alpha coefficients for the domain subscales were reported as follows: psychological and emotional support, .916; degree and career support, .909; academic support, .871; and the existence of a role model, .866. Crisp (2009), Crisp and Cruz (2010), and Crisp (2010) reported acceptable model fit for the collected data using confirmatory factor analysis. Discussion noted that with some exceptions, the CSMS items were scored similarly across racial and ethnic groups, and gender groups, yet confirmatory factor analysis model fitting results differed somewhat for within these variables. Their findings suggested the ongoing development of a mentoring model and measurement tool that facilitates investigation into student characteristics toward the potential development of tailored mentoring programs that place emphasis on specific group needs.

The literature review highlights how the identification and involvement with a mentor and the attributes of mentoring have varied. The purpose of this current study was to investigate how the domains of mentoring (psychological and emotional support, degree and career support, academic support, and the existence of a role model [Crisp, 2009]) related to or differed by student characteristics in ADN students. In addition, the current study sought to explore relationships between students' perceived persistence and the domains of mentoring.

Method

This study used a descriptive cross-sectional survey method. Participants in the study completed a 15-minute electronic survey. The survey included the 25 CSMS items related to the student's mentoring experience while in college, along with several demographic questions. The survey was submitted electronically through SNAP ( http://www.snapsurveys.com) survey software immediately on completion. Prior to initiating the study, institutional review board approval was obtained from the primary investigator's (C.M.P.) school of nursing and as required by the participating nursing schools.

Sample

A convenience sample of current ADN students was obtained. A priori power analysis was conducted for the nonparametric analysis Kruskal-Wallis test (identified as demanding the largest sample for this study to examine the four group ordinal level mentoring support with the nominal level seven group measure for ethnicity). Using a medium effect size of f = 0.25, a power of 0.80, and an alpha level of 0.05, the minimum number of participants was identified as N = 220. An e-mail was sent to 22 nursing leaders of ADN programs in the state of Michigan. These contacts were asked to forward an e-mail that included a brief study description and link to the informed consent and electronic survey. Based on enrollment estimates, the e-mail could have been forwarded to approximately 1,950 ADN students affiliated with nine different community colleges in the state of Michigan. A total of 283 surveys were returned. After removing surveys with missing data in key data fields, a net of 249 surveys were included in the study. All of the included participants met one or more of the criteria for a nontraditional student, as defined by Jeffreys (2007).

Instruments

Survey questions were created to solicit basic demographics (i.e., age, gender, and race), number of terms enrolled, and additional student characteristics (Jeffreys, 2007). These characteristics included enrollment status as part or full time, English as a second language (yes/no), number of dependent children, completion of high school or GED, and ever having failed a nursing course (yes/no).

The CSMS was used to measure the domains of mentoring (Crisp, 2009). The CSMS instrument subscales have previously demonstrated good internal consistency and content validity. The CSMS uses 25 items to measure the four theorized domains of mentoring. There are eight items in the psychological and emotional support subscale, six items for the degree and career support subscale, five items for the academic support subscale, and six items for the existence of a role model subscale. Participants rated their level of agreement using a scale ranging from 1 to 5 (1 = strongly agree, 2 = agree, 3 = neither agree nor disagree, 4 = disagree, and 5 = strongly disagree). The questions do not specify who serves within the mentor role. A mean score was calculated for each subscale. Cronbach alpha coefficients for the subscales within this study were .916 for the psychological and emotional support, .909 for the degree and career support, .871 for the academic support, and .866 for the existence of a role model subscales.

The students' involvement in a mentoring relationship were measured in the following four ways: a history of having any contact with a mentor, the number of contacts with a mentor as a continuous measure, the extent to which students turned to their mentor for support and encouragement, and overall experience with mentoring. Participants were asked about the number of contacts they had with a mentor. Two measures were created from this item. The responses were dichotomized as those who reported zero (i.e., never met with a mentor) and those who responded having met once or more with a mentor. The other was a ratio-level measure, where the actual number of times they reported meeting with a mentor was used. Students also were asked the number of terms they had been enrolled in their nursing programs. This was used to then calculate the number of visits per term. In the second involvement with a mentor measure, students were asked to what extent did they turn to their mentor for support and encouragement. This was an ordinal level measure that used a response set of 1 (not at all), 2 (little), 3 (often), and 4 (very often). Finally, in the third approach, students were asked how important their experience with their mentor was for their success. This was an ordinal level measure that used a response set of 1 (not important), 2 (somewhat important), and 3 (very important).

Students' perceived likelihood to persist in their nursing program was measured using the mean score from their response to four items (e.g., “I see myself continuing from semester to semester” and “I see myself experiencing academic failure resulting in remediation.”). The response set was 1 (always like me), 2 (usually like me), 3 (about half the time like me), 4 (seldom like me), and 5 (never like me). Given the alternative positive and negative wording of the items, as necessary, items were reverse coded to align in the same direction. Toward interpretation of the resulting scale, mean values could range between 5 and 1, with 5 suggesting strong agreement with the likelihood of persisting in the program and 1 suggesting a strong belief that the student would incur a failure or otherwise not matriculate successfully through the nursing program.

Data Analysis

The electronic data were downloaded securely and imported into the statistical data management software. The data file was carefully reviewed and coded. Data analyses were performed using SPSS® version 22.0 software. Participants with missing data on key variables were excluded, and missing data in minor fields were excluded list-wise in data runs. The criteria for significance testing was set at p = .05 for inferential analyses.

Results

Participant Characteristics

Sample demographics are presented in Table 1. The majority of students in the sample were women (87.1%), were White (75.1%), had a mean age of 34 years, and reported English as their first language (94.8%). Although the number of children varied widely, the mean for the sample was 1.23. The majority of participants had graduated from high school (89.9%) rather than having completed a GED. One quarter of the students (25.7%) reported having failed at least one nursing course. All community colleges from which student participation was solicited were fully commuter schools; none of the colleges provided on-site student housing.


Characteristics of Study Participants

Table 1:

Characteristics of Study Participants

Student Characteristics and Mentoring

The sample results for the mentoring measures are presented in Tables 23. First investigated was how student involvement in a mentoring relationship and the domains of mentoring (Crisp, 2009) differed by student characteristics. There were no statistically significant results found between the three measures of involvement in a mentoring relationship and the student characteristics of age, racial and ethnic background, English as a second language, number of dependent children, and completion of high school versus GED. In addition, no statistically significant differences were found between the domains of mentoring for the student characteristics of age, enrollment status, racial and ethnic background, English as a second language, number of dependent children, completion of high school versus GED, and failure of a nursing course.


Student Involvement With a Mentor Frequency Measures

Table 2:

Student Involvement With a Mentor Frequency Measures


Means and Standard Deviations for Mentor Meetings, Domains of Mentoring, and Perceived Ability to Persist

Table 3:

Means and Standard Deviations for Mentor Meetings, Domains of Mentoring, and Perceived Ability to Persist

Involvement with a mentor differed by gender, enrollment status (i.e., full time versus part time), and history of nursing course failure. Men reported they met more frequently (M = 25.71, SD = 24.37) with their mentor than women (M = 11.38, SD = 18.51) did (t[166] = 0.002, p = .022). Part-time students were significantly (χ2 [1] = 4.601, p = .032) more likely to have ever met with a mentor (90.2%) than full-time students (77.5%). However, the frequency of meeting with a mentor was significantly higher for full-time students than for part-time students (U = 4,126.500, p = .048), with the sum of ranks equal to 7,524.50 for part-time students and 17,006.50 for full-time students. The mean rank of the frequency of meeting with a mentor for part-time students (M = 123.35) was higher than for full-time students (M = 106.29). In addition, students who failed a nursing course were significantly (χ2 [1] = 5.715, p = .017) more likely to have met with a mentor (91.5%) than students who did not fail a nursing course (77.3%).

Although most student characteristics did not differ statistically in regard to their score for the domains of mentoring, two significant differences were found by gender. Women scored significantly higher (M = 2.24, SD = 0.84) than men (M = 1.83, SD = 0.65) on the measure of psychological and emotional support (t[247] = −2.631, p = .009). Women also scored significantly higher (M = 2.30, SD = 0.90) than men (M = 1.88, SD = 0.69) on the measure of academic support (t[247] = −2.533, p = .012). In terms of instrument scaling, this indicated that women perceived less psychological and academic support than men did.

Student Persistence and the Domains of Mentoring

The sample mean scores for the domains are listed in Table 3. Using correlational tests, students' perceived ability to persist was examined in relationship to Crisp's (2009) four domains of mentoring. No statistically significant relationships were noted between perceived persistence and the domains of degree and career support, and academic support. Significant relationships were found between the students' perceived ability to persist and the domains of psychological and emotional support (r[247] = −0.143, p = .024) and the existence of a role model (r[246] = −0.150, p = .018). Operationally, due to the scale coding, this appears as an inverse relationship; however, conceptually, it is not. Students who reported strong agreement with their perceived ability to persist reported strong agreement with the presence of psychological and emotional support from a mentor. Similarly, students who believed in their ability to persist also were more likely to report strong agreement with the existence of a role model domain. Alternatively, as the students' confidence in their ability to persist in the program decreased, they were more likely to report lower perceived psychological and emotional support and less support for the existence of a role model.

Discussion

The demographic characteristics for nontraditional ADN students enrolled in community colleges were used as key variables to describe student involvement in a mentoring relationship, the domains of mentoring (Crisp, 2009), and their perceived ability to persist. The demographic distributions for race and ethnicity, gender, and age for this sample were similar to the percentages for the same student characteristics that were compiled by the National League for Nursing (2012) (Table 4). However, the sample for this investigation had a larger number of African American students and fewer male students than national levels as reported by the National League for Nursing. This suggests that the sample was generally representative of ADN programs in the United States.


Comparison of Sample Demographics and National League for Nursing (NLN) Data

Table 4:

Comparison of Sample Demographics and National League for Nursing (NLN) Data

Nurse educators must examine and consider student characteristics that are not traditionally studied. Findings from the literature and in this study support that student mentoring needs vary by student characteristics. The significant characteristics of nontraditional ADN students (i.e., gender, failure of a nursing course, and enrollment status) in this study represent attributes that may make a difference in a students' day-to-day performance in an academic setting, influencing how they perceive their ability to persist.

The results of mentoring contacts with students is somewhat unexpected. Given the increased program engagement of full-time students, it was not surprising that full-time students reported a higher frequency of meeting with their mentors. Meanwhile, part-time students were more likely to report having had at least one meeting with a mentor, although they did not meet as frequently with a mentor as full-time students did. It may be that part-time students have less formal and informal engagement within their nursing program (i.e., interactions with other students and course faculty). As such, they perceived having less support and were more likely to seek out connections within the formal nursing program structures. Further investigation is warranted to examine these differences.

Similarly, many nursing programs may have mentoring programs that serve as remediation for struggling students (Jeffreys, 2012), and as such, it would not be surprising to find that students with a history of failing a nursing course were more likely to report having met with a mentor. Given the possibility of a student being moved to part-time following a failure, the association between enrollment status and ever failing a nursing course was examined. No association was found between these groups (χ2 [1] = 0.542, p = .46). Differences between gender groups represented an interesting significant finding for nurse educators. A gap in the literature exists for describing and explaining the mentoring experience differences by gender for students enrolled in community colleges (Crisp, 2009; Crisp & Cruz, 2010; Hu & Ma, 2010; Nora & Crisp, 2007). Although additional research on gender is needed, this investigation provided some insight to gender differences.

Although schools of nursing enroll predominately women, the men perceived that they were experiencing psychological and academic support to a greater degree than the women in this study. In prior research, although student characteristics were not a key variable, Shelton (2003, 2012) provided evidence that psychological and functional support contributed to ADN student retention in community colleges by promoting student persistence. This study provides evidence to suggest mentoring interventions that increase psychological and academic support perceptions of women may be warranted.

Research conducted by Crisp (2010) with students enrolled in general education courses at a community college found that women reported receiving more mentoring support than men. These conflicting findings indicate that further investigation of the supports of mentoring by gender is required for students enrolled in different degree programs. Possibly the differences in these findings related to the different gender dominance in the course programming (i.e., general education versus nursing programs). Enrollment in the general education courses may be more evenly distributed by gender. The historical female dominance of nursing may be impacting how different genders are socialized into nursing programs. Given their minority status in nursing, men may be encountering greater psychological and emotional support from nursing faculty, family, and friends to persist in their nursing educational pursuit.

The significant relationship between perceived persistence and the domains of psychological and emotional support, and existence of a role model build support for the value of these mentoring domains. The stronger the level of psychological and emotional support that students experienced, the more likely they were to report believing in their ability to succeed in their nursing program. Likewise, the stronger students were to report having a role model, the more likely they were to believe in their ability to succeed in their nursing program. These findings suggest the importance of these domains for contributing to student success. Theory-based mentoring programs that build on these two domains should be developed and tested.

Limitations

This is one of the first studies in nursing education to investigate the relationships between nontraditional ADN student characteristics (Jeffreys, 2007), the domains of mentoring (Crisp, 2009; Crisp & Cruz, 2010; Nora & Crisp, 2007), and perceived ability to persist in a sample of community college nursing students. In addition to the threats of selection and self-report questionnaires (Burns & Grove, 2012), a key limitation for this study is the use of a cross-sectional design, particularly relative to the use of perceived persistence, versus a longitudinal design where actual matriculation could be measured. This investigation of mentoring was founded in part in the prior work of Crisp (2009). The CSMS measures the mentor as “someone” in the students' lives. It is likely that across the CSMS mentoring activities measured, more than one individual is performing various roles. Future research that investigates who serves as a mentor for the various key functions is warranted. In addition, although the sample was reflective of the NLN (2012) ADN student characteristics, the lack of racial diversity reduced power for the post hoc analyses when investigating racial and ethnic background groups.

Conclusion

The research on the topic of mentoring and persistence is advancing toward identification of the specific attributes of mentoring and how they relate to important student characteristics. The results of this research study provided insight into how students' perceived ability to persist related to specific domains of mentoring. In this study, students who perceived themselves as persisting, even though they experienced an academic failure, reported experiencing some degree of psychological support and some degree of support from their mentor as a role model. Perhaps the students who have overcome a failure were empowered relative to future program persistence.

This research study has contributed to advancing the mentoring research in nursing education by narrowing the gap that existed in the literature for nontraditional ADN students enrolled in community colleges and has contributed to the evidence base to support mentoring of nursing students. The more evidence-based strategies used to enhance nursing education, the better the outcome will be to improve the preparation nurses receive to serve the public.

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Characteristics of Study Participants

Characteristicn (%)
Enrollment status
  Part time72 (29)
  Full time176 (71)
Gender
  Male32 (12.9)
  Female217 (87.1)
Racial and ethnic background
  American Indian/Alaska Native2 (0.8)
  Asian/Pacific Islander11 (4.4)
  Black/African American33 (13.3)
  Hispanic/Latino10 (4)
  Middle Eastern3 (1.2)
  White187 (75.1)
  Other3 (1.2)
English as first language
  Yes236 (94.8)
  No13 (5.2)
General educational background
  General equivalency diploma25 (10.1)
  High school graduate222 (89.9)
History of a nursing course failure
  Yes64 (25.7)
  No185 (74.3)
Age (y)
  Mean (SD)33.88 (8.71)
  Range20–59
Dependent children
  Mean (SD)1.23 (1.31)
  Range0–7

Student Involvement With a Mentor Frequency Measures

Measuren (%)
Ever met with a mentor
  Yes180 (81.1)
  No42 (18.9)
Frequency of mentor meetings
  Never42 (18.9)
  Occasionally58 (26.1)
  Frequently122 (55)
Extent turned to mentor for support and encouragement
  Not at all37 (14.9)
  Little47 (18.9)
  Often100 (40.2)
  Very often65 (26)
Overall experience with a mentor
  Not important26 (10.6)
  Somewhat important67 (27.2)
  Very important153 (62.2)

Means and Standard Deviations for Mentor Meetings, Domains of Mentoring, and Perceived Ability to Persist

MeasureM (SD)Range
Mentor meetings per grading period13.00 (19.71)0–53
Domains of mentoring
  Psychological and emotional support2.19 (0.83)1–5
  Degree and career support2.16 (0.87)1–5
  Academic support2.24 (0.88)1–5
  Existence of a role model2.28 (0.93)1–5
Perceived ability to persist4.70 (0.46)1–5

Comparison of Sample Demographics and National League for Nursing (NLN) Data

Student CharacteristicStudy SampleNLN (2012)
Race and ethnicity
  American Indian or Alaska Native0.8%1%
  Asian or Pacific Islander4.4%4%
  Black or African American13.3%9%
  Hispanic and Latino4%6%
  Other2.4%7%
Gender
  Male12.9%16%
Mean age (y)3330
Authors

Dr. Peltz is Assistant Professor and Dr. Raymond is Professor, Eastern Michigan University, School of Nursing, Ypsilanti, Michigan.

The authors have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

Address correspondence to Caroline M. Peltz, PhD, RN, MSHSA, CNE, Assistant Professor, Eastern Michigan University, School of Nursing, 310 Marshall Building, Ypsilanti, MI 48197; e-mail: cpeltz@emich.edu.

Received: August 10, 2015
Accepted: February 19, 2016

10.3928/01484834-20160414-04

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