Commencing nursing students' perceptions and anxiety of bioscience

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Craft, J, Hudson, P, Plenderleith, M, Wirihana, L, Gordon, C 2013, 'Commencing nursing students' perceptions and anxiety of bioscience', Nurse Education Today, vol. 33, no. 11, pp. 1399-1405.

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It is known that bioscience is perceived to be difficult and causes anxiety within undergraduate nursing students; yet, commencing students' perceptions of bioscience is not known. Therefore, the aim of this study was to ascertain incoming students' perceptions, knowledge and approaches to learning bioscience. Incoming students to the Bachelor of Nursing completed a questionnaire prior to undertaking bioscience. Two hundred and seventy three students completed the questionnaire that explored their expectations, preconceptions of bioscience content, approaches to learning bioscience, and relationship to clinical practice in the context of biosciences. Participant ages ranged from 17 to 53 (mean 23 years), and 78% of students had completed at least one secondary school science subject, of which 60% had studied biology. Overall, students' preconceptions included anxiety about studying bioscience, bioscience being difficult and harder than nursing subjects, and that more content will be required for bioscience than nursing subjects. Analysis using ANOVA revealed the relationships for secondary school science and age on student responses. A significant effect of secondary school science was found for science in school being advantageous for bioscience (p = 0.010), understanding what bioscience entails (p = 0.002), needing to study science prior to the start of the semester (p = 0.009), and that bioscience is considered difficult (p = 0.029). A significant effect of age was found for exams being more difficult than other assessments (p = 0.000) and for being able to see the relevance of nursing when reaching the workplace (p = 0.011). The findings also indicated that perceptions and associated anxieties related to bioscience were present in commencing students, similar to those which have been reported previously in established student groups. This strongly suggests that the faculty should attempt to dispel preconceptions about bioscience and target improved supports to facilitate the transition of students into the commencement of bioscience for nursing students.

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