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Knowledge Counts – But Not for Everything

Aurora Brief Reviews No. 15 April May 10 2020

July 2020
Last month, Sanne Schreurs obtained her Doctor’s degree at Maastricht University with an impressive study on “Selection for Medical School: the Quest for Validity”. The study builds on the notion that selection and admission should be derived from the Learning Outcomes (what student need to know, understand and be able to do at the end of the learning process). These, in turn, should be derived from what people need to be able to do in the workplace. From this, the Maastricht medical school set up such a ‘constructive’ admission selection as an alternative to the Dutch national system of weighted lottery among qualified students. The constructive selection process looked at cognitive, but also at personal competences. Ms Schreurs’ study tracked both the constructive-selection cohort and weighted-lottery cohort for drop-out and time to degree, but also for performance through their medical training in cognitive and personal competences.

The result quite clearly showed that the selective-admission cohort outperformed the lottery-cohort in study results – although there was no significant difference in time to degree or drop-out. The outperformance was actually more significant in the follow-up study at Master’s level than it already was at Bachelor’s level: selection based on a mix of knowledge, understanding, ability and attitude works; and it works better as the studies go on.

Ms Schreurs – also analysed the added cost – inevitable in a Dutch context – for Maastricht university of the selective admission process. She found that the extra cost was € 139 000 for the cohort of 286 selective admitted students. But this was more than countered by the cost reduction of fewer repeat exams and other benefits resulting from the higher performance of these students: no less than € 207 000 for that same group of 286 students.

One thing Ms Schreurs apparently didn’t look at: Was the selective cohort more or less inclusive (including underrepresented groups) than the lottery-based group? Given the same success rate and time-to-degree, this is relevant if we want medical doctors from all segments of our society.

Picture from @schreurssanne on twitter
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