Theses Doctoral

Three Essays on The Economics of Education

Martinez, Miguel

Essay 1: Determinants of NCLEX-RN Success Beyond the HESI Exit Exam: Performance in Nursing Courses and Academic Readiness
Abstract: Every year, nursing students are not allowed to receive their degrees or sit for NCLEX-RN (national licensure exam) because of their performance in standardized exit exams like the HESI (Health Education Systems, Inc) or ATI (Assessment Technologies Institute). These exits exam have been found to be highly predictive of NCLEX-RN success but not failure. Consequently, some have argued that progression rules in nursing programs should not be based on a single metric but on a broader assessment of student readiness to pass the NCLEX-RN. In this study, I examine whether demographics, pre-college academic readiness measures, and performance in nursing courses improve the correct identification of students who will pass/fail above and beyond the HESI exit exam. I find that their inclusion can improve the identification of those who will fail but not those who will pass.
Essay 2: The Impact of Remediation on NCLEX-RN Success: Positive, Neutral, or Negative?
Abstract: Nursing programs assign students to NCLEX-RN remediation - based on the results of the HESI exit exam- to improve their probability of passing the NCLEX-RN on the first attempt. Previous correlational studies have found NCLEX-RN remediation based on HESI exit exam scores to be effective. In this study, I use two nationally representative samples to explore the impact of required remediation on passing the NCLEX-RN on the first attempt using regression discontinuity design both as local randomization and as continuity at the cutoff using. As the former, I find some evidence that remediation has a negative impact on passing the NCLEX-RN on the first attempt. As the latter, I find limited evidence of positive treatment effects. Both sets of statistically significant findings, however, are sensitive to bandwidth, kernel functional assumptions and/or sample trimming. Overall, RD evidence suggests that remediation may not have an impact on NCLEX-RN outcomes.
Essay 3: Testing a Rule of Thumb: For STEM degree attainment, More Selective is Better
Abstract: The supply of STEM workers depends to some degree on the ability of post-secondary institutions to keep those students already interested in STEM engaged and, to a much lesser extent, to generate interest among those initially not interested. The institutional attributes which may exert positive or negative influences on STEM degree attainment are many and students and parents may not be able to assess the status of each factor or a bundle of factors for specific institutions in their college choice sets which may maximize the probability of STEM degree attainment. In this essay, I test the rule of thumb that, for STEM students, attending a highly selective institution instead of a moderately selective institution improves the probability of obtaining a STEM degree at the first attended institution among those interested in STEM among and among those who are not initially interested. Overall, I find that highly selective institutions have a comparative advantage in producing STEM graduates among those already interested in STEM but not among those initially not interested in STEM. These findings hold true also for female students but to a different degree.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Bailey, Thomas
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 24, 2017