Development and Psychometric Assessment of the Undergraduate Nursing Student Academic Satisfaction Scale (UNSASS)

Article excerpt

Background and Purpose: To examine the psychometric properties of a newly developed instrument: The Undergraduate Nursing Student Academic Satisfaction Scale (UNSASS). Methods: A self-report test-retest questionnaire was administered to a convenience sample of 313 students enrolled in Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) program in Ontario, Canada. Results: The psychometric analysis yielded a 48-item multidimensional instrument. Validity testing revealed a content validity index (CVI) of .83. Factor analysis suggested a four-dimension scale with distinct factor loadings that all exceeded .4 and explained 50% of the variance. The scale had an overall Cronbach's alpha coefficient of .96 and a test-retest correlation coefficient of .88, indicating a highly reliable instrument. Conclusions: The newly developed instrument provides a tool to comprehensively measure the satisfaction of nursing students with the academic aspects of their nursing programs.

Keywords: nursing students; program satisfaction; psychometric properties; multidimensional instrument

Student academic satisfaction is an important consideration for higher education institutions. The university and college environments are dynamically changing to meet the needs of society and to remain viable in a competitive environment. Meeting students' needs and ensuring that students are satisfied with their educational experience are important priorities because student satisfaction has been shown to have an impact on the perceived reputation and loyalty to the institution (Helgesen & Nesset, 2007), student attrition (Freeman, Hall, & Bresciani, 2007; Suhre, Jansen, & Harskamp, 2007), and retention (Astin, 1993). Thus, ongoing assessment of satisfaction levels is an important first step toward identifying strengths and areas for potential improvement to meet students' needs.

Nursing programs have specific challenges including program costs, aging nursing workforce, and increasing enrollment. In nursing, the investment in each student does not only require faculty to teach theoretical courses but also entails the direct supervision in small groups during clinical instruction time and laboratory instruction. Because of the increasing costs over time, it is particularly important that nursing students are satisfied with their educational experience and successfully complete their degree programs of study. This is particularly important in light of the fact that the nursing workforce is aging, which places an additional pressure on schools of nursing to increase enrollment to increase the pool of new nurses (American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN], 2008). CNA reports that although the national numbers of graduating nursing students are increasing, these numbers fall short of the rising demand for nurses (CNA, 2008).

The increased demand for nurses in North America has lead to a significantly larger number of students in nursing programs. Such increased enrollments are likely to put a strain on students and faculties alike. Given the desire to provide excellent and competent graduates who can meet the demands of professional credentialing examinations, it is important that students' experiences and satisfaction be assessed to ensure that curriculum content delivery is achieved. However, other facets of the students' learning and educational experiences as well as institutional objectives must be carefully considered. A Health Canada (2007) report on nursing student attrition suggested that most nursing students leave in the first 2 years of the program. The main reasons that lead students to leave their nursing programs included difficult academic standards, the program structure, and lack of academic support (Health Canada).

Given that a comprehensive assessment of a nursing program extends beyond the evaluation of classroom teaching, it is important that measures of student satisfaction also assess academic aspects pertaining to clinical and laboratory rotations, program resources, and student support. …