Locus of control, an exploration of the nursing students' views on control, autonomy and satisfaction
This thesis examined the meanings of student nurses' Locus of Control,
satisfaction, a utonomy and professional accountability. The thesis a Iso assessed
whether perceptions of these concepts change during the time on a nursing course.
The participants were 170 nursing (non graduate and graduate) students from 4
different groups studying for Diploma in Nursing. In Phase 1, all participants
completed LOC and Satisfaction Questionnaires. In Phase 2, 11 participants from
graduate group were interviewed at the beginning and the end of their course, 2
years later. The qualitative data were analysed usmg Interpretative
Findings from Phase 1 demonstrated that students in this sample were more
'externally' rated when compared with other student populations (LOC mean 13.2
SD 3.85) but became more 'internally' rated towards the end of the course.
Satisfaction data showed that the students were more satisfied at the beginning of
the course and became progressively less satisfied the longer they were 0 n the
course. This was demonstrated by a significant negative correlation between
External Locus of Control and satisfaction. The findings revealed gender
difference in LOC scores, with males scoring lower on the LOC scale, thus being
more 'internally' rated than females.
Findings from Phase 2 showed that the LOC mean for the interviewed group was
higher a t the beginning 0 f the course, decreasing at the end of the course, thus
demonstrating the shift towards internality. The qualitative data reflected this shift
particularly in the statements from the second interviews. The analysis of the LOC
concept showed marked differences between statements of 'internally' and
'externally' rated students. These differences were observed in relation to all
studied concepts. Those rated 'internal', were more focused and more definite in
their explanations and also linked control to independent decision-making.
Different explanations of control were offered from seeing it as 'power' and
'knowledge' to perceiving it as an 'ability to determine the outcomes of events'.
Some 'externally' rated students commented on the 'hierarchy in nursing' and
some saw themselves at the bottom of this hierarchy.
This research also found that autonomy and professional accountability were
perceived as one and the same by many students. Autonomy was strongly linked
with control and expressed in similar terms and all the students in the interview
sample considered it important to have personal and professional autonomy