Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

LOCUS OF CONTROL and ACADEMIC SUCCESS among Ethnically Diverse Baccalaureate Nursing Students

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

LOCUS OF CONTROL and ACADEMIC SUCCESS among Ethnically Diverse Baccalaureate Nursing Students

Article excerpt



This descriptive study used quantitative and qualitative methods to gain a deeper understanding of the perceptions of locus of control and the academic success of baccalaureate nursing students from ethnically diverse backgrounds. Students who were more likely to attribute academic outcomes to forces beyond their personal control were more likely to have lower medical-surgical theory grades, more likely to be Filipino or from other Asian groups, and more likely to be students for whom English was their second language. The most frequently reported factors students identified as contributors to academic success were good study strategies, persistence, and supportive social connections.

Key Words Locus of Control - Academic Success - Baccalaureate Nursing Students - Ethnic Diversity

STUDENTS TODAY DEMONSTRATE WIDE VARIATIONS IN ETHNICITY, LIFE EXPERIENCE, ABILITIES, AND PERSONALITY CHARACTERISTICS (Ofori & Charlton, 2002; Salamonson & Andrew, 2006). Efforts to learn more about the belief systems and psychosocial characteristics of today's diverse student body to gain a deeper understanding of the factors that influence academic success are warranted, the primary focus of this study was to INVESTIGATE THE RELATIONSHIPS AMONG ACADEMIC SUCCESS, ETHNICITY, AND PERCEIVED LOCUS OF CONTROL, ONE OF THE MOST WIDELY STUDIED ATTRIBUTES OF PERSONALITY IN THE FIELD OF PSYCHOLOGY FOR MORE THAN 40 YEARS (TWENGE, ZHANG, & IM, 2004). The ability to feel in control and accept personal accountability for one's own action has been linked to academic success and the development of nursing professionalism (Colucciello, 2000; Dawson, 1994).

Background Many nursing researchers have conducted studies to identify predictors and inhibitors of academic success in nursing education programs as a basis for improved teaching strategies (Jeffreys, 1998; Ofori & Charlton, 2002; Salamonson & Andrew, 2006; Shelton, 2003). More specifically, some researchers have focused their attention on the particular needs of minority and English as a second language (ESL) students to improve retention of those from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds (Amaro, Abriam-Yago, & Yoder, 2006; Gardner, 2005). Nurse educators have developed new strategies to help some at-risk students achieve academic success, but further research is needed to understand how locus of control (LOC) may influence student self-perceptions, decision making, and academic outcomes.

Rotter (1966) developed his generalized expectancies, or Locus of Control (LOC) Theory, based on the premise that individuals perform tasks differently contingent upon their belief in the likelihood of attaining their desired goal or purpose. LOC is a learned perception that may vary from one context or environment to another. Rotter's work inspired the development of other social learning theories, including Bandura's (1986) research on self-efficacy, Levenson's (1981) multidimensional framework of locus of control, and Weiner's (1974) development of attribution theory.

LOC orientation is a continuum between internal and external ownership of identified factors that lead to a particular outcome; it is influenced by environmental, cultural, and personal variables (Rotter, 1966). An individual with a predominately internal LOC orientation attributes personal success or failure to his or her own efforts and abilities, which include thoughts, behaviors, motivations, and aptitudes. An internal LOC orientation is more conducive to high achievement, social adjustment, and independent functioning, but has been positively correlated with resistance to submit to authority and reduced sympathy for others (Spector, 1983).

An individual with a predominately external LOC orientation believes that outcomes are related more to extenuating circumstances beyond personal control such as luck, fate, the will of other people, or the influence of greater external forces such as God or nature (Rotter, 1966, 1982). …

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