Background of the study

Nations are built on the ability to hand over knowledge from an older generation to a younger generation. This boils down to education. According to Ariyo (2014), education would refer to the wealth of abilities and capabilities which one acquires with the help of a more developed individual through systematic instructions. Education requires instruction of some sort from an individual or composed literature. Education is indispensable for successful living in today’s contemporary society. This is because education is required to build human capital, dispel economic inequality, and improve national potentials. The objective of education is to enable individuals reach a set standard of quality in certain desired activities (Boyd, King, & Chauhan, 2013). Firm measures are used to evaluate these activities. One of such measures includes examination performance. Student’s examination performance occupies a central position in education. One’s examination performance when assessed is often a decisive criterion for judging an individual’s total academic potentials whether as average, above average or below average.

According to Oluwatimilehin and Owoyele (2012), examination performance is defined as a measure of test scores which describes an individual’s level of learning achievement upon a subject. In other words, examination performance is the amount of knowledge and skills acquired or developed on a subject, generally indicated by marks obtained in a test. Examination performance is used to appraise the extent of achievement of the educational objective. In another perspective, the quantity of test scores describes the amount of learning the student has achieved. If a student earns a high grade, he is regarded as academically superior compared to a student with lower grade (Boyd, et al., 2013). Hence, examination performance refers to test scores above acceptable set standard which depicts positive accomplishment in learning or education.

Currently in Nigeria, virtually all academic institutions are rated within informed circles based on the percentage of students who achieve professionally acceptable examination performance. Invariably, examination performance is used to pass judgment on the quality of education offered by academic institutions. Improving examination performance has gradually developed into a matter of concern to educators. This is largely due to its benefits to individuals, families and communities. Good examination performance above set standard may promote imagination, inspiration, ingenuity, and inventiveness (Fazal, Hussein, Majoka, & Masood, 2012). It may further improve psycho-social stability or wellbeing of the said individual. Furthermore, good examination performance indirectly builds human capital and promotes economic productivity of communities (Ariyo, 2014).

In contrast, examination performance below acceptable set standard has been a source of discrimination and restriction of ideas (Anzene, 2014). Nowadays, examination performance has become valid grounds for looking down upon people (Akintola, 2013). Students who attain less prestigious examination performance below set standard, are often regarded with disdain. This eventually deprives the student the entire concept of self-worth. According to Akinola (2012), poor examination performance may predispose a student to psych-social instability; and ultimately poorer performance in learning activities.

Numerous studies have been carried out which focus on cognitive factors as predictors of examination performance (Oluwatimilehin & Owoyele, 2012). Recently, there has been a growing interest on the non-cognitive factors as predictors of examination performance (Mendezabal, 2013). These non-cognitive factors may include study habit, study motivation, study attitude and skill among other attitudinal constructs. Fazal, Hussein, Majoka, and Masood (2012) and Oluwatimilehin and Owoyele (2012) argue that these factors could have a strong relationship with academic performance of students.

According to Aquino (2011) study habit is the habitual practices one uses to help them learn. In line with this, Bashir and Mattoo (2012) defined study habit as routines that students undertake to enable better learning, absorption and recall of knowlegde or skills. Furthermore, Aquino (2011) stated that study habit includes activities such as taking notes, rewriting notes in one’s own words, use of flash cards and planning study time in an intentional way. In the words of Kurshid, Tanveer, and Naz-qasmi (2012), good study habits includes being organized, keeping on-point notes, listening in class, reading recommended textbooks and daily information reinforcement. They further stated that bad study habit includes skipping classes, not doing take home assignments, allocating more time for games than reading or studying, and consistency in study routine. This may suggest that the way students utilize availible study materials, time allocated to studying, the environment within which they study and the ability to recall content of study are the elements that could define the boundaries of good or poor study habits.

Study attitude refers to a student’s behaviour towards the specific acts of reading and learning (Alabi, 2014). More technically, Aquino (2011) regards study attitude as a complex mental state involving beliefs, feelings and values directed towards the act of studying; and the dispositions to act in a way favourable for learning to occur. Study attitude which favours learning may include positive behaviour towards teachers, acceptance of teaching style, paying attention durring lessons and an inclination to strict study time management (Mendezabal, 2013). This may also suggest that study attitude concentrates on the desire, interest and intentions to read and learn. Hence, the strenght of one’s study attitude is the power his interest exerts towards manifestation of behaviour favourable for learning to take place. This may further entail that an a student’s belief, feelings and value of the learning process, including his interest, desire and intent to learn could determine good or poor study attitude.

Bashir and Mattoo (2012), Oluwatimilehin and Owoyele (2012) and Mendezabal (2013) argue that there could be a link between examination performance and study habits and study attitude. It is often expected by educators, school authorities and government that the provision of basic comfort such as electricity, accomodation, safe water supply and study halls and desks would help improve study habits and study attitude (Adeyemo, 2012). This in turn would enhance examination performance. Society in general anticipates that improved examination performance depicts better human capital development. Literature on examination performance of student nurses in Registered Nurse (RN) licensure examinations have shown decline for the past ten years (McGahee, Gramling, & Reid, 2010). The overall passing rates have declined to about 36%. According to Mendezabal (2013), the RN licensure examination of 2013 administered by the American Nursing and Midwifery Council had about 70%  of students having at least a referal. In 2014, only 125,419 out of 345182 students (i.e 36.3%) passed. A 2015 report sent to the USAID-funded Capacity Plus Project by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of  Nigeria (NMCN) showed that in 2012, 8754 student nurses were enrolled into fully accredited nursing schools nationwide. 68% of them eventually completed the programme’s internal requirement. However, only 37% ultimately passed the RN licensure exam (Fisher, 2015).

The important place occupied by student examination performance and the need to enhance it to boost the national rating of  academic Nursing institutions, human capital development and proffesional productivity; has resulted in influences on student examination performance to be the most topical debated  issue of great concern to Nurse educators. Reflecting on the information that several non-cognitive factors have been associated with poor examination performance by Aquino (2011), Bashir & Mattoo (2012), Mendezabal (2013) , and Anzene (2014); this study will examine two of these variables which are study habit and study attitude with the expectation of proposing a remedy for better examination performance.

Statement of Problem

In today’s contemporary society, examination performance is often used as a parameter for evaluating a student’s learned skills or potentials (Fazal, et al., 2012). A student who performs above a set standard is often capable of delivering highly skilled quality service. However, within Imo state, the researcher observed growing complains on decline in nursing students’ ability to pass Registered Nurse licensure examination from fellow Nurse Tutors.  Evidence obtained from the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria’s Official bulletin, shows the following for three schools of Nursing in Imo state. In May 2011, the pass rate was 19% for School of Nursing Amigbo, 50% for School of Nursing Owerri and 64% for School of Nursing Umulogho-Obowo. In May 2012, the pass rate was 20% for School of Nursing Amigbo, 30% for School of Nursing Owerri and 38% for School of Nursing Umulogho-Obowo.

Poor examination performance could lead to waste of human resources and tarnished individual esteem (Akintola, 2013). In other words, detrimental physiological state could arise from poor examination performance. Since it has been reported that examination performance is influenced by study habits and study attitude by Mendezabal (2013); one may then ask “is it that basic nursing students do not have the right study habit and/or study attitude?”, “how does their study habits and study attitude influence their examination performance?”

In order to strive towards averting the impending doom that may arise from poor examination performance, it may be desirable to empirically compare study habits and study attitude of nursing students on the basis of its relationship to examination performance.

Purpose of the study

The aim of this study is to examine the influence of study habits and attitudes on examination performance among basic nursing students in Imo State.

Objectives of the study

  1. Determine the influence of study habits on examination performance of basic nursing students in Imo State.
  2. Determine the influence of study attitudes on examination performance of basic nursing students in Imo State.
  3. Compare the influence of study habits and study attitudes on examination performance of basic nursing students in Imo State.

Research Questions

  1. What is the influence of study habits on examination performance of basic nursing students in Imo State?
  2. What is the influence of study attitudes on examination performance of basic nursing students in Imo State?
  3. What is the difference in the influence of study habit and study attitude on examination performance of basic nursing students in Imo State?

Research Hypotheses

  1. There will be no difference in the influence of study habit and study attitude on examination performance of basic nursing students in Imo State.

Significance of the study

The findings of this study will be useful to the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria, in the sense that the findings of this study may form the basis for future study recommendations and intervention programs which would aim at improving students’ study habits and study attitudes. By implementing evidence based preferred styles Nurse Educators in diverse Nursing schools may eventually improve student nurses’ examination performance outcomes in licensure examinations.  In other words, the finding of this study may benefit basic student nurses by informing evidence based study habit and attitude that is likely productive towards better examination performance. The findings of this study may be of benefit to the nursing industry as it could serve as reference for future evidence based research on related topics. Any identified difference in strength of association between study habit, study attitude and examination performance will uncover the degree of influence study habit and study attitude has on examination performance.

Scope of Study

This study focused on the comparative analysis of the influence of study habits and study attitudes on examination performance among basic nursing students in Imo state. It was confined to analysing study habits and study attitudes of basic nursing students on the one hand, and the influence of study habits and study attitude on examination performance of basic student nurses on the other hand. Four basic nursing institutions was examined. The study was delimited to basic nursing students who are just about writing their licensure examination in four selected basic nursing schools. The four selected schools are School of Nursing Umulogho-Obowo, School of Nursing Amigbo, School of Nursing Emekuku and School of Nursing Mbano.

Operational Definition of Terms

Study habit: refers to the pattern of behaviour adopted by students in the pursuit of their studies. This includes time allocated to study, planning of study and study environment. It will be graded as poor, moderate or good.

Study attitude: deals with a student’s behaviour towards the specific act of studying. It includes acceptance of assignment method, approval of the goals to be achieved, and value placed on goal of learning. It will be graded as poor, moderate or good.

Examination Performance: This refers to the scores obtained in a standardized nursing Hospital Final Examination. Scores range from 0 to 100. Scores 0 to 49 is interpreted as poor. Scores 50 to 69 is interpreted as moderate. Scores 70 to 100 is interpreted as good.

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