The influence of personal qualities on performance and progression in a pre-registration nursing programme

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Journal Article
Nurse Education Today, 2014, 34 (5), pp. 866 - 871
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Background: Research conducted primarily with psychology and medical students has highlighted that personal qualities play an important role in students' academic performance. In nursing there has been limited investigation of the relationship between personal qualities and performance. Yet, reports of student incivility and a lack of compassion have prompted appeals to integrate the assessment of personal qualities into pre-registration nursing student selection. Before this can be done research is needed to explore the influence of students' personal qualities on programme performance and progression. Aim: This study explores the relationships between students' personal qualities and their academic and clinical performance, behaviours and progression through a pre-registration nursing programme in Australia. Method: This longitudinal descriptive correlational study was undertaken with a sample of Australian pre-registration nursing students (n=138). Students' personal qualities were assessed using three personal qualities assessment (PQA) instruments. Outcome measures included grades in nursing theory and clinical courses, yearly grade point average, final clinical competency, progression (completion), class attendance and levels of life event stress. Results: Significant correlations were found between academic performance and PQA scores for self-control, resilience and traits of aloofness, confidence and involvement. Final clinical competence was predicted by confidence and self-control scores. Students with higher empathy had higher levels of life event stress in their first year and class attendance had a positive correlation with self-control. Completing the programme in three years was weakly predicted by the measure of resilience. No difference was noted between extreme or non-extreme scorers on the PQA scales with respect to performance or progression. Conclusion: This sample of students' personal qualities was found to influence their academic and clinical performance and their ability to complete a pre-registration programme in three years. However, further research is required with larger cohorts to confirm the use of personal qualities assessment during selection. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
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