Factors contributing to poor performance of student nurses in anatomy and physiology

X L Mhlongo, T E Masango


Background. Student nurses in South Africa view anatomy and physiology (A&P) as the most complex subject in the nursing curriculum.

Objective. To describe the factors contributing toward inconsistent and fluctuating performance among student nurses doing A&P as a subject.

Methods. The study adopted a quantitative descriptive design. Census sampling was used to draw a sample size of 114 respondents. A structured self-administered questionnaire with close-ended questions was used to collect data from the six nursing campuses under study. Raw data were captured using Excel spreadsheets, and descriptive and inferential statistics were used to analyse data.

Results. The key findings were: (i) poor teaching strategies contributed to subject failure; (ii) lack of after-class sessions had an impact on failure; (iii) a shorter study period for examinations contributed to failure; and (iv) a language barrier also played an important role in students’ failure in A&P.

Conclusion. Student nurses struggle with and find A&P in nursing programmes challenging and anxiety-provoking. Nurse educators need to come up with innovative teaching strategies that will ensure an integrative approach to link theory to practice and to link sciences throughout curricula. Support programmes are needed to help students enhance performance in A&P. The examination schedules should be adjusted so that student nurses have enough time to study, and nurse educators should engage students in active learning.

Authors' affiliations

X L Mhlongo, Charles Johnson Memorial Nursing Campus, Nqutu, South Africa

T E Masango, Charles Johnson Memorial Nursing Campus, Nqutu, South Africa

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Cite this article

African Journal of Health Professions Education 2020;12(3):140-143. DOI:10.7196/AJHPE.2020.v12i3.1357

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-10-16
Date published: 2020-10-16

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