Can we predict attrition and academic success in pre-qualifying physiotherapy programmes?

Hamm, Karen, Beith, Iain, Ramdharry, Gita, Waygood, Sarah and Grant, Robert (2011) Can we predict attrition and academic success in pre-qualifying physiotherapy programmes? In: World Physical Therapy 2011; 20-23 June 2011, Amsterdam, Netherlands.


Title Can we predict attrition & academic success in pre-qualifying physiotherapy programmes? Purpose To determine whether pre-admission selection criteria relate to success and attrition in an undergraduate physiotherapy programme in the UK. Relevance Selecting students to study physiotherapy is a complex process designed to identify individuals who are most likely to succeed academically and are appropriately prepared to qualify fit to practice. Many physiotherapy courses use the achievement of academic grades as the main admission criteria and some, but not all, interview prospective applicants. It is not clear whether the measurements of these criteria are appropriate and/or helpful in this selection process. In addition there have been initiatives to widen the participation of all social, gender and ethnic groups to qualify as Physiotherapists so as to reflect the population more accurately. It is not clear if the pre-entry assessment of these non-traditional participants is comparable to the traditional route. Given that the attrition rate of admitted students is often early on in the first year, examining the relationship between pre-admission selection criteria, attrition and success (measured by academic performance) will help to answer these questions. Description All students in this evaluation applied for the physiotherapy programme at the institution via the UK national admissions system (UCAS). They were short listed for interview on the basis of predicted or actual academic performance and the quality of their personal statement. This study investigates the relationship between these pre-admission selection criteria and student attrition and success from application to end of first year, for three cohorts of students. Evaluation The findings demonstrate that attrition in year one was greater for students who scored less well at interview due to personal or academic reasons. Attrition was also found to be higher amongst students with non-traditional qualifications. Interview scores tended to predict academic performance. Conclusions The findings of this study suggest that some pre-admission selection criteria do relate to attrition and success in the first year of an undergraduate pre-qualifying physiotherapy programme. Implications Critical evaluation of pre-admission selection criteria is required in order to support the use of rigorous admission criteria in identifying students with the greatest potential for success. Whilst certain pre-admission criteria may be used to help predict attrition and success one must also be mindful of whether or not they help prepare students and make them fit for practice. Determining whether pre-admission criteria relate to performance whilst on clinical placement would be therefore be beneficial. These findings may be useful for selecting students for admission and in particular for identifying students at risk of failure. Keywords Admission criteria, attrition, academic success

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