Authors

Lydia Hamel, BS; Justin Hunter, MPA, PhD(c), NRP, FP-C; Christopher Goenner, MHS, NRP, NCEE; Kathleen O’Connor, NRP, MPP; Tom Fentress, MBA, NRP, PI, CFI; Adisack Nhouyvanisvong, PhD; Donna Gridley, BA; Ashley Procum, BA; Sahaj Khalsa, BS, NRP, NM I/C; Alan M. Batt, MSc, PhD(c), CCP.

 

Introduction/Background

There are several factors that can affect a student’s academic performance. These include but are not limited to: family and peer support, previous education, and socioeconomic status (SES). Research indicates that students of lower SES are educationally disadvantaged. This study sought to examine the relationship between paramedic student academic performance and county-level SES indicators.

 

Methods

Student academic performance data from Fisdap was combined with data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings for 2017 and U.S. Census for counties in California, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Virginia. Multiple linear regression modeling was performed to determine the relationship between income, high school graduation rate, poverty and food insecurity with first-attempt scores on the Fisdap Paramedic Readiness Exam (PRE) versions 3 and 4. Counties with less than 5 reported PRE3 or PRE4 scores were excluded. One-way analysis of variance was performed between entrance exam (EE) score and parent education level.

 

Results

There were 3,697 records across 151 counties (PRE3),1,293 records across 60 counties (PRE4), and 3,607 records (EE) respectively. Results of the multiple linear regression models indicated that there was a significant collective effect between income, poverty, graduation rate, food insecurity, and both PRE3 scores (F(4,143)=10.66, p < .001, R2=.23) and PRE4 scores (F(4,54)=4.72, p < .01, R2=.26). Income, graduation rate and poverty were significant individual predictors in the PRE3 model, but only income was a significant predictor in the PRE4 model. ANOVA was statistically significant (p < 0.001) for EE score and parental education. Students whose parents had a high school diploma or less had the lowest EE scores (mean 77.42, SD 9.21) while students whose parents had a graduate degree had the highest EE scores (mean 81.55, SD 8.22).

 

Discussion and Conclusion

This study demonstrated an association between the county-level SES indicators mentioned above. In addition, parent education level appears to be related to entrance exam scores. Since data was analyzed only at the county level, it remains unclear what type of relationship exists between individual SES and academic performance of paramedic students. These findings support future collection of individual student level SES data to further explore the relationship between SES and academic performance.