Cognitive development in a traditional and nontraditional nursing student population

Date of Completion

January 1990


Education, Adult and Continuing|Health Sciences, Nursing|Education, Higher




This study was conducted to analyze the level of cognitive development of traditional and non-traditional students in a baccalaureate nursing program. The study also investigated the relationship between cognitive development and non-traditional student characteristics. The Scheme of Intellectual and Ethical Development of William Perry served as the organizing framework for this research. The instrument used to measure cognitive development was the Scale of Intellectual Development constructed by T. Dary Erwin (1981). A demographic survey, designed by the investigator was used to collect data about age, employment experience and previous educational achievement of the subjects.^ The population for the study included all of the students in a four year baccalaureate nursing education program in Southern New England. The sample (N = 160) was 38% non-traditional in relation to age. Thirty percent reported previous higher education, 29% reported previous full-time employment. Data were analyzed by Analysis of Variance, Repeated Measures Design. Hierarchical Regression Analysis was used to predict cognitive development scores as measured by the four subscales of the SID-IV. The four subscales were Dualism, Relativism, Commitment and Empathy.^ Results indicate there was a significant interaction between type of student and subscale score (p $<$.05). Traditional students were more Dualistic than Non-traditional students. There was a significant interaction between type of student, level of student and subscale score (p $<$.01). Non-traditional sophomores were significantly less Dualistic than traditional sophomores and more Committed to a personal viewpoint. Traditional sophomores were significantly more Dualistic than they were Committed. A significant difference was found to exist between the Dualism and Commitment subscale scores for the Traditional sophomores. The Hierarchical Regression Analyses explained 19.6% of the variance in Dualism scores, 12.7% of variance in Relativism scores, 17.3% of the variance in Commitment scores and 12.5% of the variance in Empathy scores. ^