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Title: A mixed methods study of medical school admissions : issues of fairness and student performance
Author: Wright , Sarah Robin
ISNI:       0000 0004 2747 0096
Awarding Body: University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2012
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Selecting medical students is a challenge for UK universities: there are more applicants than places, limited selection tools upon which to base decisions, and concerns over fair access. In attempt to alleviate such problems, the United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) was introduced in 2006 to 26 medical schools. This study employed mixed methods to explore issues of fairness and student performance using a sequential explanatory design, Regression analyses were performed first, leading to further research questions addressed through the interpretation of semi-structured interviews with students. The regression analyses served two main purposes: first, to explore the relationship between background factors and admissions scores (including UKCAT), and second, to determine whether background factors and admissions scores were predictive of first and second year medical school examination performance. Privately educated students had significantly higher personal statement scores than state educated students, although personal statements were not predictive of examination performance. Interview scores were unaffected by previous school type and did not predict examination performance. UKCAT scores were not predicted by school type; however, UKCAT was consistently a significant predictor of examination performance. Despite the predictive ability of the UKCAT, much of the variance in examination scores remained unexplained. Interviews investigated admissions performance differences and factors affecting examination performance. When compared to state educated students, privately educated students described higher levels of economic, social and cultural capital, which facilitated the medical school application process. Factors affecting examination performance were unique to individual students; highlighting the difficulties inherent in predicting performance. While medical schools endeavour to create fair and transparent admissions policies, students who have access to economic, social and cultural capital are unintentionally favoured by traditional selection methods. The results of this study indicate that the UKCAT is the least biased and most useful selection tool used at Newcastle University.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available