Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Uldis Smidchens

Second Advisor

Dr. Carol Sheffer

Third Advisor

Dr. Laurence Schlack

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Bill Burian


In this study the ability, achievement, demographic, and social interaction characteristics of three groups of baccalaureate nursing students were investigated. The three groups of students studied were dropouts, marginals, and high achievers. The purpose of the study was to identify predominant characteristics of dropout and marginal students that would act to direct the development of programs in nursing education.

The population studied consisted of the Nazareth College 1981-1982 freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior nursing students. In addition, the 1976-1980 graduating nursing classes were studied, including the freshman through senior year data for these classes.

The results of the data analysis offered mixed support for the hypotheses proposed. The ability scores of marginal students were lower than high achievers. This was also true of dropouts and nondropouts, but those differences were not consistently significant at the .05 alpha level. Marginal groups were found to perform lower than high achievers on achievement tests, and a direct relationship was found to exist between achievement test scores and State Board Exam performance. In addition, marginal students scored lower than high achievers on State Board Exams.

The demographic variables measured in this study did not help define dropout, marginal, or high achieving student characteristics, as the student group was found to be a homogenous one. The hypotheses predicting that marginal students would more likely be involved than high achieving students in social interactions which detract from concentrating on studies (i.e., employment, time spent in travel) were not supported by the data. In addition, social interaction that might act to give support to students (i.e., support services, community activities) was not found to be different from the high achieving group than for the marginal group.

Possible explanations for the findings were discussed, implications for nursing education proposed, and suggestions for further research developed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access