Records, Kathryn

Committee Member

McNeill, Jeanette

Committee Member

Sullivan, Katherine

Committee Member

Allen, Michael


College of Natural and Health Services; School of Nursing, Nursing Education


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley, (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



143 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


Student success in nursing education is essential to supplement the healthcare workforce and sustain the delivery of safe and efficient nursing care. However, the loss of students who drop out or fail out of nursing programs is alarmingly high even though institutions have sought to identify the best candidates for admission to rigorous nursing curricula. While most nursing programs have used academic measures, such as grade point average or standardized testing to rank students for admission, these measures have not adequately captured the characteristics that students must possess to be successful. To further identify nonacademic attributes that enhance achievement, new criteria are being explored. This study tests a new model, the Nursing Cognitive Aptitude Model, or NCAM (Twidwell et al., 2018) as an organizational framework to examine the variables of prior academic performance, current knowledge, and critical thinking skills, for its ability to predict early student success in an associate degree nursing program. A convenience sample of 115 first semester nursing students completed two instruments, the Health Sciences Reasoning Test, and the Test of Essential Academic Skills. Student scores as well as both pre-nursing and nursing cumulative grade point averages were evaluated using regression analysis. The results were consistent with existing evidence that prior academic performance and current knowledge, as measured by composite scores on standardized testing, were significantly related to student performance. However, overall critical thinking skill did not contribute to early success in nursing education. Thus, the combined composite scores of each variable included in the NCAM did not significantly predict nursing grade point average. Additional inquiry with multisite designs and diverse student populations is needed to understand the role of pre-existing critical thinking skills in the educational process and to further evaluate the NCAM as a predictive model for student success.

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