The relationship between students' sense of commitment to the profession of nursing and their perception of powerlessness in the academic setting

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1979

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Abstract

Commitment to a profession, particularly the profession of nursing is declining. In 1978 only 50% of the registered nurses in this country were working full-time. This issue of commitment becomes important in light of continuous well-publicized needs for even greater numbers of nurses in the job market. The theoretical framework which evolved from a review of the literature outlined three main causes for this low commitment in the profession of nursing. The variable powerlessness was shown to be an underlying common denominator in all of the identified causes for the low degree of commitment. Thus this study was designed to examine the relationship between students1 sense of commitment to nursing and their perception of powerlessness in the academic setting. The following hypothesis was proposed: There will be an inverse relationship between students1 sense of academic powerlessness and their commitment to nursing. A random sample of 300 subjects was selected from the population of senior female nursing students enrolled at two large southwestern state-supported universities. Data were collected utilizing a questionnaire format. The first section of the questionnaire measured the variables age, race, marital status, grade point average, socioeconomic status, religion, birth order, and mother's work status. Section two consisted of a Guttman scale which measured commitment behaviors. Attitudes of commitment and powerlessness were measured with Likert scale techniques in the third and fourth sections. All scales were examined for reliability and validity using factor analysis, Cronbach's alpha, and Guttman scalogram procedures. Product-moment correlation techniques were used to examine the relationships between powerlessness and commitment. Zero order correlations showed a significant inverse relationship between attitudinal commitment and powerlessness (-.831) and between behavioral commitment and powerlessness (-.781). The research hypothesis was supported. Three variables, age, grade point average, and socioeconomic status were significantly related with the variables commitment and/ or powerlessness. The influence of these three variables was statistically removed from the relationships observed between powerlessness and commitment by partial correlation models. The zero-order and partial correlations were essentially the same which showed that the three extraneous variables had little effect on the basic relationships. A series of multiple regression techniques were performed which revealed that 73% of the variance was accounted for in the variables attitudinal and behavioral commitment by the variable powerlessness. When the eight extraneous variables were controlled for by the regression analysis the variance accounted for remained at 72%. Thus the research hypothesis stating an inverse relationship between students1 sense of academic powerlessness and their commitment to nursing was supported and was unaffected by age, race, marital status, grade point average, socioeconomic status, religion, birth order, and mother's work status.

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