Faculty Caring, Campus Racial Climate, and Academic Performance

Saturday, 25 July 2015: 3:30 PM

Marivic B. Torregosa, PhD, RN, FNP
College of Nursing, Texas A&M International University, Laredo, TX
Marcus Antonius Ynalvez, PhD
Department of Public Affairs and Social Research, Texas A&M International University, Laredo, TX

Background: Caring is the essence of nursing. However, most of the scholarship in this topical area has been conducted in the clinical nursing domain; very few have been carried in academic setting. While seminal qualitative studies about faculty caring in nursing education provide conceptual groundwork on how caring is demonstrated in student-faculty relationships, there is limited information on how faculty caring influences students’ academic performance. It is also not known whether campus racial climate influences students’ academic performance; meaning whether it plays a moderating role between students’ perceptions of faculty caring and performance. Most studies that examine the nexus between nursing students’ perception of faculty caring and students’ academic performance have failed to account for campus racial climate as a factor that may influence performance. In this paper, we posit that academic performance is linked to students’ perception of faculty caring, and that this link is conditioned by students’ perception of campus racial climate. By casting our framework in this manner, we gain better understanding of how perceived organizational environment shapes the relationship between perception of faculty caring and performance, thereby extending Watson’s theory of transpersonal caring. The results of our study have the potential to provide basis for the development of institutional policies in nursing education.

Purpose: To examine the relationship between students’ perception of faculty caring and academic performance, and to verify the moderating role of students’ perception of campus racial climate in the relationship between perception of faculty caring and students’ academic performance.

Methods: Our study takes the form of a secondary data analysis of an original on-line survey of n = 385 Mexican-American and non-Hispanic White baccalaureate nursing students enrolled in Medical-Surgical 1 nursing course across seven universities in Texas. Four of the seven universities were Hispanic-serving institutions. Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval was obtained for the original study and for this secondary data analysis. Face-to-face recruitment was conducted in the last 4 weeks of the semester for each three semesters, and an online survey was sent to the participants. Our dependent variable, academic performance, was measured as end of semester Medical-Surgical-1 course grade. Our independent variables comprised six factors extracted from the factor analysis of 31 items pertaining to students’ perception of faculty caring measured through Nursing Students' Perceptions of Instructor Caring (NSPIC) (Wade & Kasper, 2006). Variables relating to age, gender, ethnicity, marital status, entrance grade point average, and university served as multivariate controls. Campus racial climate served as moderator variable and comprised a single factor extracted from a 7-item scale designed to measure Students’ Perception of Prejudice and Discrimination (PPD) (Nora & Cabrera, 1996). Cronbach’s alpha for NSPIC was at 0.94 while that for PPD was 0.95.

Data Analysis:An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) that used a principal component method and varimax rotation was performed to extract the main factors underlying the 31 NSPIC items and the 7 PPD items. The resultant six NSPIC factors and one PPD factor were casted as independent variables and moderator variable, respectively, in our multiple linear regression model.

Results:   Six factors with eigenvalue greater than 1 explained 65.5% of the variance in faculty caring. We labeled these factors based on the items that heavily loaded on each factor. The factors were named as follows: Factor 1 (support and accepting), Factor 2 (instills positive outlook and compassion), Factor 3 (non-judgmental), Factor 4 (encouraging), Factor 5 (empathic understanding), and Factor 6 (self-disclosure). Only one factor, which we labeled discrimination was extracted from the 7 PPD items. This factor explained 58% of the variance in campus racial climate. Our results indicate that perceptions of faculty instilling a positive outlook and compassion towards students has a significant positive effect on academic performance. As perceptions of campus racial climate being discriminating increase, the positive relationship between perceptions of non-judgment from faculty and academic performance become stronger. Likewise, being married and entrance GPA had direct positive associations with students’ academic performance.

Conclusion: Our findings indicate that one factor pertaining to NSPIC had a main effect on academic performance, while yet another NSPIC factor had an effect of academic performance that was moderated by campus racial climate. The findings of this study suggest that student perceptions of faculty caring is impacted by the organizational climate where student-faculty interactions are situated which then ultimately impacts students’ academic performance.