Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


The purpose of this action research was to examine the relationships of demographic and academic variables to student performance in a laddered practical nursing (PN) and registered nursing (RN) education program. The information gained may be utilized to establish research-based admission, progression and graduation criteria to promote students successful completion of the program and pass the nurse licensure examination.

Descriptive statistics were used to summarize data related to the variables that were measured. Pearson correlations and regression analyses were used to examine various relationships and determine which of the admission demographic and academic variables were related to, or predictive of successful musing program performance. The t test was also used to compare mean scores of RN graduates who passed with those who failed the licensure exam.

Predictive relationships that were found to exist in the PN sample between: (1) the American College Test (ACT) comprehensive score and Sandra Smith’s NCLEX Practical Nurse / Vocational Nurse (PN/VN) Assessment Test, graduation nursing grade point average (GPA) and cumulative graduation GPA outcomes; (2) age of the student and Sandra Smith PN/VN Assessment Test and graduation nursing GPA outcomes; and (3) admission GPA and the graduation nursing and cumulative GPAs.

Since all of the 120 PN graduates passed the licensure exam on the first attempt, no changes for GPA requirements were suggested. It was recommended the ACT comprehensive score be considered as an admission screening criterion in addition to GPA.

The RN sample (N = 93) had 78.5% pass the licensure exam and 21.5% failed. Predictive positive relationships in the RN sample were between: (1) admission cumulative and both the graduation nursing and cumulative GPA outcomes; and (2) admission nursing GPA and graduation nursing GPA. A low, inverse relationship existed between age and cum graduation GPA. Graduates who passed the licensure test had significantly higher admission nursing GPAs and Health Education Systems Incorporated Exit Exam scores than those who failed. Recommendations made from these findings were to consider increasing the cumulative and nursing GPAs for admission to the RN program and continue use of the HESI Exit Exam an assessment of preparedness to take the licensure exam.