Retention of baccalaureate nursing students

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Higher Education


John M. Braxton


Nursing students, Student retention

Subject Categories



This was a longitudinal study of the retention of one specific cohort, baccalaureate nursing students. The study was not based on a single theory of student retention, and there are no known multiinstitutional theories. The purpose of the study was to explore student and institutional characteristics to determine whether there was a relationship between the predictor variables and a student's decision to persistence in the program.

The sample, which was drawn from the 1971 and 1980 Cooperative Institutional Research Program Surveys, consisted of 279 women. The retention rate was 57%.

Multiple linear regression was used to solve a series of hierarchical regression equations. Eight variable sets were added one at a time until all were entered into the equation: student background variables, educational aspiration variable, personality and value variables, institutional variables, financial aid variables, interpersonal interaction variables, transfer variable, and college achievement variable. The overall equation was statistically significant at the.05 level with an $F$ (28, 250) ratio of 3.211.

This system model explained 26.5% of the variance in the criterion variable, persist. Three variables were statistically significant at the.05 level: institutional control, satisfaction with the institution of initial entry, and the number of institutions attended. Attending a private institution was the most powerful predictor ($B$ =.228); transferring to another college had a negative effect on persistence ($B$ = $-$.219). The results have implications for students, institutions, nursing organizations, and government officials. First, this study demonstrated that the retention rate of students at private colleges was 25% higher than students at public schools. Second, transferring to a second college decreased persistence by 15%. Third, being very satisfied with one's initial college, as opposed to being not satisfied, increased persistence by 34%.

The findings indicated that: (1) Persistence in nursing is more a function of students' institutional experiences than precollege characteristics and experiences, and (2) the structure of persistence or is similar for nursing students as it is for college students in general. These results have implications for policy, curriculum development, and enrollment management strategies.


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