A relationship between matriculation English results and academic performance in nursing students at the Kwa-Zulu Natal College of nursing
Manson, Theresa Anne
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Background The KwaZulu-Natal College of Nursing trains students to be professional nurses through the R425 programme. Teaching and evaluation are done in English, although the majority speak isiZulu as their home language. Due to inequalities in the South African schooling system, many English Additional Language (EAL) student nurses have poor English proficiency and struggle academically. There is a need to ensure that those selected for nurse-training are academically successful. Aim of the study The aim of this study was to determine if there was a relationship between English proficiency, determined by the matriculation English results, and first-year nursing academic results. Methodology A quantitative design was used, and comprised of two phases, namely a self-administered questionnaire and a correlation, retrospective record-review. The total population of first-year nurses was 271. The participating sample amounted to 133 consenting nurses, undertaking the R425 programme at KwaZulu-Natal College of Nursing campuses. Stratification sampling was used to ensure that approximately half the sample of nurses attended a rural campus and half attended an urban campus. Random sampling was then used to select the urban campuses and the rural campuses from where students were invited to participate. Descriptive and inferential statistical analysis as well as regression analysis was applied, using the SPSS version 20.0. Results Matriculation English appears to be positively related to many factors including the socio-economic situation when growing up, attending a rural primary school, library access at primary school and access to computers in primary and high school. English additional language nurses prefer to be taught nursing in English and consider it an advantage. The examination failure rate of first-year nurses was 24%. Nurses’ with higher matriculation English results on entry to nurse-training obtained better academic results in first-year nursing examinations. Recommendations Language should not be a barrier to admission into higher education, however a certain threshold of proficiency in the language of instruction is recommended. Under-resourced schools need to be addressed, especially in rural areas, including the language of instruction at schools. The matriculation results of the home language should also be considered in admission criteria to higher education. Policy formulation on formal academic support and language training, especially during the first-year of nurse-training is required for those struggling academically.