A Correlational Study of a Reading Comprehension Program and Attrition Rates of ESL Nursing Students in Texas

By Donnell, Wendy M. | Nursing Education Perspectives, January-February 2015 | Go to article overview

A Correlational Study of a Reading Comprehension Program and Attrition Rates of ESL Nursing Students in Texas


Donnell, Wendy M., Nursing Education Perspectives


Abstract

AIM The purpose of this study was to examine the associations between English as a second language (ESL), a reading comprehension program, and attrition rates of nursing students.

BACKGROUND Higher attrition rates of ESL nursing students are an assumption, seemingly based on anecdotal evidence. Data reflecting ESL student attrition should be measured and analyzed so that students can be identified prior to attrition.

METHOD A secondary analysis of a large database of 27 initial licensure programs in Texas was completed. results Data analysis identified that ESL students who used a reading comprehension program were almost twice as likely to be off track or out of the program as ESL students who did not use the program.

CONCLUSION Nurse educators need to evaluate student profile characteristics in a comprehensive way when determining risk of attrition.

KEY WORDS

Nursing Students--Minorities--English as a Second Language--Student Attrition

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Once nursing applicants are accepted into a nursing program, issues with attrition and the ability to retain students become the focus for graduating new registered nurses. The National League for Nursing (NLN, 2010) reports that the graduation rates of RN programs are approximately 80 percent.

The consequences of attrition (delayed graduation or noncompletion) in a nursing program are not just deleterious to the individual student. For example, while students may experience financial loss and psychological difficulties as a result of attrition, colleges and universities experience financial loss in the form of federal and state monies based on enrollment data. In the United States in 2007, the cost for first-year higher education students not returning for a second year was $1.35 billion (Schneider, 2010). When a student leaves a nursing program, the program cannot admit another student to replace the student who left, and the college or university cannot regain the lost revenue caused by that student.

Attrition can also deny another qualified applicant admission into a program. The lost student garnered a place in the program only to lose it, but the other qualified applicant was never given an opportunity to succeed in the program. Within this context, the predictive value of admission requirements becomes highly significant. Nursing programs want to admit the students most likely to succeed.

A subgroup of the nursing student population includes those for whom English is not their first language. Although English might be a second, third, or fourth language, these students are usually identified as English-as-a-second-language (ESL) students. Various authors have stated that ESL nursing students experience a higher attrition rate than non-ESL students (Gilchrist & Rector, 2007; Guhde, 2003; Olson, 2012; Taxis, 2002). However, as no recent statistics support this statement, the higher attrition rate is an assumption that may be based on anecdotal evidence.

Researchers cannot afford to assume that ESL students have higher attrition rates than non-ESL students. Rather, actual statistics reflecting ESL nursing student attrition should be calculated so that students can be identified early and interventions started before attrition occurs. Barriers that contribute to ESL student attrition and interventions designed to reduce them should be studied because ESL nurses represent health care professionals who are valuable to the American population and will strengthen the abilities of the nursing profession.

THE RESEARCH STUDY

The purpose of this retrospective, longitudinal correlational study was to examine the associations among language, participation in a reading comprehension program, and attrition rates of pre-licensure nursing students in Texas. The study was a secondary analysis of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's database from the Statewide At Risk Tracking and Interventions for Nurses (SATIN) study, which examined the association of selected variables representing concepts in the Nursing Undergraduate Retention and Success (NURS) model. …

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