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Nurse Educ Today. 2002 Apr;22(3):251-7.

Why is biological science difficult for first-year nursing students?

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  • 1Biological Sciences, Trinity College School of Nursing and Midwifery Studies, c/o Trinity Center for Health Sciences, St. James's Hospital, Dublin 8, Ireland.


Many factors contribute to poor performance in examinations in nurse education. Some of these are specific to the biological science subject area. In this study the results of two cohorts of first-year nursing students' biological science examination results were analysed to see if entry criteria and study habits significantly affected examination results. chi(2) contingency tables were used. The following parameters were shown to have a significant effect on biological science examination results: 1. Studied biology previously, chi(2)=48.06, DF=20, n=112 (significant at 0.001); 2. Level of achievement in school biology, chi(2)=11.15, DF=8, n=104 (significant at 0.05); 3. Attendance in class, chi(2)=60.71, DF=36, n=201 (significant at 0.001); 4. Use of recommended readings, chi(2)=34.86, DF=20, n=119 (significant at 0.05). Are nursing students of today giving themselves a decent chance through their study and attendance behaviour in a busy demanding course? Is overloading within the curriculum leading to these behaviours? This study shows that poor previous theoretical biological science significantly influenced biological science examination results. Biological science will continue to prove difficult, particularly for students who have a poor biological background, unless appropriate strategies are put in place both within the course and prior to entry.

Copyright 2002 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.

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