Climate control: Does caring really matter?
In an attempt to address healthcare disparities, nursing programs have been charged with increasing success rates of minority students to increase diversity within the profession. Despite an upsurge in enrollment numbers of minority students in nursing programs, attrition rates are higher for minority students as compared to majority students. Persistence is paramount for minority students to overcome barriers encountered while pursuing an education in nursing. Perceptions of faculty caring behaviors may heighten nursing students’ academic self-efficacy. This heightened academic self-efficacy may increase the likelihood of persistence consequently increasing the probability of success. Using relational-cultural theory (RCT) as a lens, this study investigated the relationship between perceived faculty caring behaviors and nursing students’ academic self-efficacy, and explored whether the relationship was more significant for minority students as opposed to majority students. A transformative explanatory sequential mixed methods design was employed to answer the research questions. Quantitative data were collected using two standardized instruments: the Nursing Students’ Perception of Faculty Caring and the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire. Informed by the quantitative data, interviews followed in the qualitative phase to explore students’ perceptions of faculty caring and the impact on minority students’ desire to persist. The results of a Pearson correlation suggested there is no statistically significant relationship between perceptions of faculty caring behaviors and academic self-efficacy. Additionally, the results of a one-way ANOVA yielded no statistical difference among ethnicities in regard to perceptions of faculty caring behaviors or academic self-efficacy. Qualitative data were collected during interviews and analyzed using Colaizzi’s (1978) phenomenological method. The following themes emerged from the qualitative data analysis: Impetus to Pursue a Career in Nursing, Nursing: It’s Not Everyone’s Journey, Overcoming Hurdles: Sources of Inner Strength, Faculty Behaviors: Thermostats for the Learning Climate, and Faculty: Neither Primary Influences or Deterrents of Minority Student Success. The qualitative findings suggest that while faculty behaviors do have an impact on minority students in regard to program selection, they are not primary influences for minority students’ determination or desire to persist.