Academic Self Efficacy in Undergraduate Student Nurses in Northern Ireland

Brian McGowan, Laura Dunne

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

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Self-confidence is made up of a variety of domain specific self-efficacies, (Greene 2018). Academic Self-Efficacy, (ASE), is an internal estimation of the extent to which an individual believes how well they will be able to perform academic tasks. ASE has been positively linked in the literature to academic performance and has been the subject of study for several decades. Not a lot is known in Nursing about the role ASE plays, what it has to offer or its usefulness to students and educators.
The aim of the study was to investigate academic self-efficacy, (ASE), in undergraduate nursing students from all fields of practice of nursing and across all three years of the preparation programme in Northern Ireland with a view to ascertaining how confident they were academically and to identify areas of confidence and/or under-confidence.
A cross-sectional design was employed using an online self-report questionnaire; the Academic Capacity Scale for Nursing 25, (ACSN25). This was a bespoke scale developed for Nursing from an existing validated instrument, (Byrne et al. 2014). Along with demographic information, ASE was recorded using a visual analogue scale that ranged from 0–100. Descriptive statistics illustrated the demographic features of the sample and measures of central tendency were used to describe the spread of scores across the items of the scale. Exploratory factor analysis was used to excavate and expose the underlying structure of the collected data. Linear regression analysis statistically modelled factors that would predict academic self-efficacy score.
One hundred and eight completed responses were recorded, (n = 108) across years one, two and three, from adult, mental health, and children’s nursing. Two institutions that provided undergraduate nursing courses participated. Sixty-six respondents, (54%) of the sample were mature students.
Respondents were academically confident with a mean ASE score of 69.70, (confident). They reported the highest mean ASE score when it came to meeting assignment deadlines, (87.9, extremely confident), and the lowest mean ASE score related to asking questions in lectures, (45, not confident) respectively. Differences in mean ASE scores between the categorical variables turned out to not be significant except for being a mature student. Mature students were more confident than non-mature ones.
Exploratory factor analysis produced a five-factor model that contained the constructs; confidence in intellectual skills, independent study skills, interacting with faculty, information processing and lecture theatre behaviour. Linear regression analysis did not reveal any significant relationships between the predictor variables and academic self-efficacy.
Undergraduate student nurses in all fields of practice and across all years of their course appeared to be confident about their academic ability. Mature students were more confident than their non-mature peers. The sample expressed confidence in their ASE in most items except those relating to lecture theatre behaviour, where the average score fell below 50%. The items that scored highest pertained to behaviours that took place in small group environments. The findings suggested that group size was an important factor to consider in student engagement to enhance ASE. Factor analysis revealed a five-factor model that demonstrated the importance of self-regulated study skills and communication skills.
Given that confidence in lecture scenarios scored lowest in terms of speaking out and asking questions, staff should be mindful of ways to address interaction in large groups. This could be best served by staff engaging with continuing professional development activity that enhances knowledge and understanding of ASE. The nature of ASE needs to be considered in curriculum design in nursing undergraduate courses in terms of advocating for pedagogical practices that maintain and enhance ASE.
Feedback practices could be modified to ensure that they take account of the impact of verbal persuasion and reduce the use of techniques that may damage ASE, most notably fear appeals.
Further study is recommended that includes a longitudinal perspective to allow for calibration of self-efficacy assessment to develop. Additional elements such as social self-efficacy should be included and there is scope to develop a self-efficacy scale that addresses clinical practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNET2022 Conference
PublisherAdvance HE
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 5 Sept 2022
EventNET2022 Conference - Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 Sept 20227 Sept 2022


ConferenceNET2022 Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • academic self-efficacy
  • Nursing students
  • spss
  • undergraduate students


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