Un­der­grad marks to play role in ad­mis­sions

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Resources -

From Health cover Left un­changed will be the abil­ity of school­leavers to win a place on the grad­u­ate course, by be­ing ac­cepted for a com­bi­na­tion de­gree that in­volves a non-med­i­cal de­gree to be com­pleted first. The pro­gram, open to 30 stu­dents each year, gives suc­cess­ful ap­pli­cants a guar­an­teed place in the med­i­cal course on suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of the first de­gree. For the first time, eco­nomics will be added to the list of pos­si­ble first de­grees.

In March the Med­i­calJour­nalofAus­tralia pub­lished the find­ings of re­search by the Univer­sity of Queens­land on the ef­fec­tive­ness of its ad­mis­sion pro­cesses, which led to UQ’s de­ci­sion to scrap in­ter­views.

The re­search ( MJA 2008;188:349-54) found that the GPA was most strongly cor­re­lated with aca­demic per­for­mance dur­ing the med­i­cal course, with the in­ter­view hav­ing the next strong­est cor­re­la­tion and the GAMSAT the weak­est cor­re­la­tion.

The as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween GPA and per­for­mance grew weaker over the four years of the course, while that of the in­ter­view and the GAMSAT grew stronger.

In an edi­to­rial in the same is­sue of the jour­nal, Pro­fes­sor David Powis — from the Univer­sity of New­cas­tle, which first in­tro­duced prob­lem-based learn­ing and eval­u­a­tion of per­sonal qual­i­ties into Aus­tralian med­i­cal ad­mis­sions pro­cesses in the 1970s — de­scribed UQ’s move as ‘‘ puz­zling’’, es­pe­cially as the univer­sity had de­cided to re­tain the GAMSAT which its own re­search had shown to be a poorer pre­dic­tor of sub­se­quent per­for­mance.

‘‘ The most log­i­cal ex­pla­na­tion for the pro­posed se­lec­tion strat­egy (at UQ) is one founded on cost,’’ Pro­fes­sor Powis wrote.

Stephen Leeder, a for­mer dean of medicine at Syd­ney and now di­rec­tor of the Aus­tralian Health Pol­icy In­sti­tute at the univer­sity, said one op­tion that would now be con­sid­ered by the work­ing party was to di­vide the in­ter­view into three parts in­volv­ing dif­fer­ent in­ter­view­ers. An av­er­age score could then be de­rived, evening out blips caused by sub­jec­tiv­ity — one of the main rea­sons why in­ter­views are crit­i­cised.

Pro­fes­sor Leeder said the sys­tem was al­ready suc­cess­fully used in Canada, but more work needed to be done to de­ter­mine if it would be suit­able for Syd­ney.

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