Review Article

Academic help-seeking behaviour and barriers among college nursing students

Million S. Bimerew, John P. Arendse
Health SA Gesondheid | Vol 29 | a2425 | DOI: | © 2024 Million S. Bimerew, John P. Arendse | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 April 2023 | Published: 18 January 2024

About the author(s)

Million S. Bimerew, School of Nursing, Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
John P. Arendse, School of Nursing, Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa


Background: First-year college student’s smooth transition and academic success influenced by academic help-seeking behaviour. Academic help-seeking behaviour is largely affected by many factors, including demographic factors, self-esteem and the use of sources for academic learning.

Aim: The study investigated academic help-seeking behaviour and barriers among first-year college nursing students.

Setting: The study was conducted at a nursing college in the Western Cape province of South Africa.

Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive survey design with a self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data from 130 first year nursing college students. Descriptive statistics and bivariate analysis were computed using Statistical Packages for Social Sciences (SPSS).

Results: More than 77.7% used course materials and books to help with academic learning, 50% of students sought help from their teachers. Only 24.6% and 17.7% of students used YouTube and computers respectively. In all items measured help-seeking is not a threat to self-esteem, teachers and parents did not have unrealistic expectations of their academic performance. Language is significantly associated with (p < 0.001) academic help-seeking behaviour.

Conclusion: Most students mainly used informal sources for academic learning. Help-seeking was not a threat to self-esteem. The language barrier is significantly associated with academic help-seeking behaviour. The nursing college should provide a coordinated academic language support, academic consultation and counselling services for academically stressed first-year nursing students.

Contribution: The findings highlighted language as a barrier to academic help-seeking. The study provides insight to strengthen the language and academic support for academic learning for first year nursing students.


academic expectation; academic performance; academic workload; academic support; college nursing students; help-seeking; perceived stress; help-seeking as a threat to self-esteem

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 4: Quality education


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