Prior Academic Background and Student Performance in Assessment in a Graduate Entry Programme
ANZSRC / FoR Code
1199 OTHER MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES
Objectives This study aims to identify whether non-science graduates perform as well as science graduates in Basic and Clinical Sciences (B & CS) assessments during Years 1–3 of a four-year graduate-entry programme at the University of Sydney (the ‘USydMP’).
Methods Students were grouped into five categories: Health Professions (HP), Biomedical Sciences (BMS), Other Biology (BIOL), Physical Sciences (PHYS) or Non-Science (NONS). We examined the performance rank of students in each of the five groups for single best answer (SBA) and modified essay (MEQ) assessments separately, and also calculated the relative risk of failure in the summative assessments in Years 2 and 3.
Results Students with science-based prior degrees performed better in the SBA assessments. The same occurred initially in the MEQs, but the effect diminished with time. The HP students performed consistently better but converged with other groups over time, particularly in the MEQs. Relative performance by the NONS students improved with time in both assessment formats. Overall, differences between the highest and lowest groups were small and very few students failed to meet the overall standard for the summative assessments. HP and BMS students had the lowest failure rate. NONS students were more likely to fail the assessments in Year 2 and 3, but their pass rates were still high. Female students performed significantly better overall at the end of Year 2 and in Year 3. There were only minor differences between Australian resident and International students.
Conclusion While there are small differences in performance in B & CS early in the programme, these lessen with time. The study results will inform decisions regarding timing of summative assessments, selection policy and for providing additional support to students who need it to minimize their risk of failure. Readers should note that this paper refers to student performance in only one of the four curriculum themes, where health professional and science graduates would be expected to have a significant advantage.
Craig, P. L., Gordon, J., Clark, R. M., & Langendyk, V. (2004). Prior academic background and student performance in assessment in a graduate entry programme. Medical Education, 38(11), 1164-1168. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2929.2004.02043.x