An Examination of Effective Factors on Academic Success of Students of Zahedan Medical University

Document Type : Original Article


1 Dept. of Community Medicine, School of Medicine , Zabol University of Medical Sciences, Zabol, IRAN

2 Dept. of Community Medicine, School of Medicine, Zahedan University of Medical Sciences, Zahedan, IRAN

3 Dept. of Nursing Education , Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IRAN

4 4Dept. of Medical Education, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, IRAN


Academic failure of students is one of the basic problems in higher education centers in Iran that, not only causes to waste time and current charges in educational centers, but also leads to psychical, mental, familial and social problems for students. Therefore, this study has been done in order to determine the value of academic success of students of Zahedan medical university and its effective factors.
    The analytical and descriptive study was performed on Zahedan medical students who passed at least one term at university (399 participants), who were studied through random sampling; data were collected by using questionnaires of individual characteristics, their satisfaction of academic major and factors being effective on academic achievement. After collecting information based on class average and terms of failing, students were divided into 2 groups, namely successful and unsuccessful.  The effective factors on their academic achievement or lack of achievement were examined in each group and compared with the other.
     Findings of this examination showed that 33.8% of students were unsuccessful at the university. There was a significant difference regarding sex, father's job, Diploma average and household economic status between groups (P<0.05), while a significant relation was not observed between variables of age, academic major, parental education and mother's job between groups (P>0.05).
    In this research, the most important, effective factors on academic achievement were study method, study time, interest in major and attention and concentration during studying. Among these demographic factors, gender was effective on academic achievement of students, and females were more successful than males. Based on the results of this study, holding educational workshops for curriculum, study and learning methods can be suitable for the educational success of students.



Developing the educational system is enumerated as an important, effective factor in development of countries, as students have an opportunity to achieve success through education; therefore, they use their maximum internal and external capacity for reaching higher educational goals so as to attain necessary conditions of a successful social life; on the other hand,  failure in education may lead to individual and social problems, hence deviation from reaching educational system purposes (1, 2). Thus,       academic failure of students is one of the basic problems in the centers of higher education in Iran which not only causes to waste time and current charges in educational centers, but also leads to psychical, mental, familial and social problems for students. According to the study done annually, this problem is going to increase, and as a result, most of the students can not undertake educational content (university courses) or finish them on time (2). UNESCO attributes academic failure to grade repetition, early drop-outs and decrease of educational and teaching quality of learners (3).

     Several studies and investigations represent that a variety of factors can lead to educational failure. In some, addiction to drugs (4) has been considered, and in others, factors, such as personality, motivation and interest, satisfaction, loneliness, expectation of success and family conditions have been mentioned to affect the value of academic success at university (5). Hazavehei et al. found that failing was more common among male students (9.4); the examined factors indicated a significant difference between the review scores of the failed and not failed students in terms of teaching methods, as well as, individual characteristics between them (6).

     In the study of Bakohe et al. , there was no significant difference between 3 groups (Excellent, good, medium) in terms of personal, familial and economical factors, but there was a meaningful difference among teaching factors such as presence at class, curriculum and notating points and contents (7). Tovar et al. expressed that there was a significant difference between the opinions of students about teaching methods of masters, student personal characteristics (e.g. being interested in educational major and considering one's study inadequate), in addition to biological and educational problems (e.g. psychological-mental, housing and dormitory, financial, occupation and marriage), with educational failures (the number less than 10 or 10-12 in their lessons) (8).

     According to the factors above, doing this study is necessary in medical universities which should educate experienced human force for presenting health and treatment cares through spending much costs. Although similar studies have been done about this context (i.e. medical universities) in many cities, around cultural differences and quick changes of factors over time, we cannot equally pose specific reasons as general and public rules for all societies; this is due to the fact that cultural contexts and rules of each society, namely people's attitudes to education, parents' education and income level and so forth, are all factors which affect academic success or failure in one society rather than another. Thus, as a result of the differences among teachers, students and teaching system in each unit of university and due to lack of new and exact information about this context at Zahedan Medical University, this study has been performed in order to identify reasons and factors being influential on educational failure in this university, to specify the relation between students demographic characteristics with their achievement, and to represent some proper strategies in this context.


     The present study is a cross-sectional study (descriptive and analytical), during 1389 – 1390, performed on 399 students of Zahedan Medical University who were chosen through random collection. Inclusion criteria were students who passed at least one complete educational term in Zahedan Medical University, and are educating at this university at the moment.

     Students were divided into two groups, successful and unsuccessful ones, after collecting information based on their class average and failing terms; next, students whose average was less than 15 or had at least one failing term, have been classified as unsuccessful students, and students whose average was more than 15 and had no failing term, have been considered as successful ones.

     In this study, the instrument of collecting information was the vindicated questionnaire including three parts: part 1 was about demographic information of students (age, sex, occupation, marital status, having or not having failed), part 2 was related to the rate of students' satisfaction with their educational major. In this part, questions were designed on the basis of a 5-option Likert scale (with scores varying from 1 to 5); the maximum score belongs to full satisfaction with academic major, and the minimum score belongs to dissatisfaction with academic major. Finally, total scores were calculated out of 100. Part 3 of questionnaires was related to the effective factors on educational achievement or lack of achievement of students.

    The content validity was controlled and improved through three observations and negotiations with faculty members in Beheshti Medical University. Experimentally, 30? students completed the questionnaire. Cronbach Alpha was 0.75 which showed a good ending. After collecting information, data were analyzed by using software SPSS and Chi-Square test.


    Out of 858 students of Zahedan Medical University, 399 participated in this study; based on their average and failing history, 200 students were placed as successful students and 199 as unsuccessful ones. Examination on demographic features indicated a significant difference between two groups of students (successful and unsuccessful) in some background features (chart1). Failing rate was 8.02%, and no difference was seen regarding age in each group (P>0.05). In this study, there was no difference  in each group about educational level, marital status, number of the units passed, residence, mother's job and parent's education (P<0.05).

     In terms of the place of residence (less than 50 Km away is considered as a native), 30% of students were native and living with their parents or spouse, and 67% lived in students' dormitory, and 3% lived in the rented dormitory.

     In the present study, no difference regarding the education level of parents was observed between two groups

     table1: Absolute and relative frequency distribution of academic success and failure of students based on demographic factors


P value












20 years old and less




more than 20 years old












Student dormitory




With family (native)




18 and above

Diploma's average





15 to 17.9



13 to 14.9



Less than 13





Father's job











Economic status










This research illustrated that the satisfaction with educational major can be influential on success or failure of students. (chart2)

     Table 2: Absolute and relative frequency distribution of academic success and failure of students based on satisfaction with one's major

P value










(7) 14



(42) 83

(36.5) 73








     There was no significant difference between two groups in case of  some effective factors on academic achievement, such as concentration and attention in the classroom, study method, studying time during 24 hours, quota of admission, presence in the class and interest in one's major, (P<0.05) (chart 3).


   Table 3: Absolute and relative frequency distribution of academic success and failure of students due to the effective factors on academic achievement

P value








n (%)

n (%)


(22) 43

(18) 36


Attention and concentration

(68) 136

(61.5) 123


(10) 20

(20.5) 41





With careful planning

Study method




With free programs


(28.5) 57

Without planning


(47) 93

(32) 64

Less than 2 hours

Study time

(32) 63

(41.5) 83

Between 2 until 4 hours

(15) 31

(20) 40

Between 4 until 6 hours


(6) 12

(6.5) 13

More than 6 hours



(6.5) 13

(6) 12

Region 1

Quota of admission

(38) 76

(49.5) 99

Region 2

(51) 101

(43.5) 87

Region 3

(4.5) 9

(1) 2

Quotas of Shahed and Isargaran  (martyrs and veterans)


(9) 19

(4.5) 9


Motivation of continuing education

(35) 69

(27.5) 55


(56) 111

(68) 136






Interest in major

(48) 96

(49) 98


(36) 72

(43) 87



   The findings of this study demonstrated that gender is related to academic success. The effect of gender on education has been indicated in some studies (6, 9, 10, 11, 12), which means the value of academic failure has significantly been more in male students than female ones, which is also consistence with our examination. However, some other studies such as Moniri et al. and Alikhani et al. have shown that there is no relation between gender and academic success (13, 14). The reason of academic failure is different in men and women. Women have educational failure because of personal reasons such as marriage, and men are unsuccessful in education due to working and enjoying more freedom; it should be noted that economical factors are impressive on both of them.

     In this study, a significant difference was observed between successful and unsuccessful students in their Diploma average; students whose average was better at high school turned out to be more successful at university, but students whose average seemed worse at high school, had reached lower average at university in comparison with the others. Some other researches, such as  Motlagh et al. , Changizi et al. , Tagharrobi et al , Khazaei et al. , Alikhani et al. ,    Moniri et al. , Borghei et al. (9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15) have also confirmed the result of the present study. According to these similar results in various studies, about medical context, it can be said that this positive relation between Diploma average and academic achievement may sustain the selection of students for entry to university based on high school average.

      Other findings of this study signified that there was a relation between the household economic situations of successful and unsuccessful students. Researches done about the effect of economic circumstances of students on their academic achievements, have represented different results. Some studies have showed students whose families are poor, have weak educational performance (9, 13, 16, 17, 18). In 2002, findings of Zappala's research showed that people whose families belong to low economic level, study less and have negative attitude toward education and have more early dropouts (19); this is in line with present findings. On the other hand, in some studies, the relation between social economical situation and academic achievement has not been confirmed (10, 20).

    In the present study, 70.4% of unsuccessful students were not native (i.e. distance from their place of residence to university is more than 50 Km); however, there was no significant relation between residence and students success in this examination. Other studies, such as Hazavehei et al. , Bokahe et al. , Tagharrobi et al. , Khgazaei et al. ,  Moniri et al. and Borghei et al. have confirmed ththe above-mentioned finding (6, 7, 11, 12, 14, 15), and are consistence with present findings.

Perhaps, suitable physical conditions and facilities of student dormitories, ease of access to scientific sources and consultative and guidance facilities for students in dormitories, competition among dormitories, for non-native students, as well as, familial problems for native students the way they spend their leisure time, have led to the absence of a significant difference in this area. It may, on the other hand, depict more attention of undertakers of this university for providing necessary facilities in dormitories, or, still there may be other reasons. Nevertheless, other studies have represented several deficiencies in university dormitories (e.g., being over-crowded, mal-nutrition and lack of welfare facilities), which can justify educational failure among non-native students compared to native ones (9, 10, 13, 21)

    In this study, the value of satisfaction with academic major was significantly less among unsuccessful students than successful ones. Unsuccessful students have less satisfaction with their academic major. This means that the way of choosing one's major has not been suitable. Students do not fully understand their educational major, and sometimes, their family or friends guide them inappropriately which ends in their dissatisfaction, lack of sufficient motivation to study, and making fewer attempts. Besides, Vanhanen expressed dissatisfaction of nursing students with course content is one of the reasons for their educational failure (22). Other researchers claimed that unsuccessful students relate their educational failure to the teaching method of professors, and their own individual characteristics, such as being uninterested in academic major (8, 23).

Most of these problems are due to the result of parents' pressure on students to choose a major against their will. These findings are consistent with Moniri et al. in Kashan, Hazavehei et al. in Hamadan and Jebraeily et al. in Urumiyeh (6, 14, 24).

    In this study, a significant relation was found in case of some variables, such as interest in academic major, motivation to continue education and the way of choosing one's major, between the two groups. In other words, most of the unsuccessful students have less interest and motivation to study. Therefore, it can be concluded that enthusiastic and efficient human force can play an outstanding role in providing individual and social health, and that inattention to these issues may result in the inability to fulfill our duties, even if we have advanced facilities.   

     Influential factors on the failure of students of Zahedan Medical University are not different from other universities, and are consistent with most of the studies performed at other universities and higher education institutions. Findings of this study specify that gender, Diploma's average, father's job, economic status of family, satisfaction with one's academic major, concentration and attention, study method, studying time in 24 hours, quota  of admission, interest and motivation and the way of choosing one's major have affected success and failure of students. Thus, it seems necessary to take some measures for preventing students' failure. These measures can include considering and supporting students more against the educational failure, providing workshops for curriculum, study and learning method and considering motivations effective on academic success of students. Finally, planning a smart teaching system is essential at universities in order to identify students' problems in terms of their personal conditions effective on their academic failure, and take preventive steps against their educational failure.


   Hereby, the authors express their gratitude to all dear colleagues and students providing and implemented this study with their sincere cooperation.

   Financial supporting: this research has been done without any financial support from any specific institution.

   Conflict of interest: this study does not have official codes of conflict of interest.

    Legal confirmation: this study is based on the thesis of examination on the value of academic success of students of Zahedan Medical University and effective factors. The researching commission of centers of studies and development of Tehran Beheshti Medical University has confirmed it.  

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