Academic self-efficacy in undergraduate student nurses in Northern Ireland

  • Brian McGowan

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education


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.

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 a nursing 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). Exploratory factor analysis was used to excavate and expose the underlying structure of the collected data.

One hundred and eight completed responses were recorded, (n = 108) across years one, two and three, from adult, mental health, and children’s nursing.
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. 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.

Undergraduate student nurses in all fields of practice and across all years of their course appeared to be confident about their academic ability. 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.
Date of AwardDec 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorLaura Dunne (Supervisor) & Liam O'Hare (Supervisor)


  • Self-efficacy
  • academic self-efficacy
  • nursing students
  • education

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