Motivation and Learning Strategies as Predictors of First Year Baccalaureate Nursing Students' Academic Performance in a Bioscience Multiple-Choice Examination

Tuesday, 8 July 2008: 8:50 AM
Yenna Salamonson, PhD, RN, BSc, CCUCert, GDNEd, MA , School of Nursing, University of Western Sydney, Penrith South, Australia
Sharon Andrew, PhD, RN, RM, BAppSc, MSc(Hons) , School of Nursing, University of Western Sydney, Penrith South, Australia
Bronwyn Everett, RN, BAppSc(Nurs), MSc , School of Nursing, University of Western Sydney, Penrith South, Australia
Jane Koch, RN, RNT, MA , School of Nursing, University of Western Sydney, Penrith South, Australia
Patricia Davidson, RN, BA, MEd, PhD , Cardiovascular and Chronic Care, Curtin University of Techology, Chippendale, Australia

Learning Objective 1: identify the inter-relationships between academic motivation, learning strategies and demographic factors.

Learning Objective 2: suggest reasons for the emergence of different predictors of academic performance of more difficult examination questions.

This study examined the relationship among motivation and learning strategies, and first year nursing students' performance in a bioscience multiple-choice examination. Multiple-choice (MC) examinations are an efficient method of assessing students' understanding of course content, however, have been criticized for favouring memorization and rote learning. To distinguish academic performance of superficial learning (e.g. by rote and memorization) from deeper levels of understanding, three categories of MC questions: sighted identical questions, sighted changed questions and unsighted questions were used. Nursing students enrolled in a bioscience subject were surveyed in the second semester of their first year baccalaureate program. The survey collected data on age, gender, and English-language acculturation, in addition to three motivational components (self-efficacy, task value and control of learning beliefs) and three cognitive learning strategies (elaboration, organisation and rehearsal). A WebCT enhancement site was set up to support student learning and students' hit rates on this site were recorded. Students' academic performance in the MC test was collected at the end of the semester. The survey was completed by 564 students (90% of students enrolled), with 557 (99%) students giving consent for the collection of their academic marks. Mean MC test scores for the three categories were: Sighted identical questions (59.0515.42), sighted changed questions (55.9114.26), and unsighted questions (50.9710.75) Stepwise multiple regression analysis revealed that self-efficacy and organisation were significant predictors of test performance of sighted identical questions and task value, English-language acculturation score, and WebCT hit rates were significant predictors for the sighted changed and unsighted questions. These results suggest that task value, English-language acculturation and academic engagement (reflected by WebCT hit rates) are important predictors of academic performance, particularly in examinations that require deeper levels of understanding or mastery.