Predictors of academic performance at a technology-based school of pharmacy
Elizabeth A. Sheaffer, George Mason University, United States
George Mason University . Awarded
A comprehensive study of four cohorts of students (enrolled 1996–2003) in the traditional Doctor of Pharmacy program at Shenandoah University School of Pharmacy was conducted to determine if there are significant predictors of academic performance of students in this program or at schools with similar technology-based and module-based curricula. Three research questions examined only the graduates (n = 236), while a fourth question examined both graduates and attrites (n = 253).
The study included two dependent variables, didactic GPA (P1–P3) and career GPA (P1–P4), and 23 independent variables. Analysis of variance (ANOVA), multiple linear regression (MLR), and discriminant analysis were used to examine relationships between variables, examine differences between groups, search for a subset of observable variables that predicted the most variance in each GPA, and to contrast graduates and attrites.
Predictors of attrition, didactic GPA, and career GPA were not consistent, which implied that variables had differing degrees of impact on various portions of the program. Subject matter ability, as determined by PCAT and GPA on required prerequisites courses; communication skills, as determined by admissions essay and interview scores; and the attainment of a four-year degree were essential for staying in the program (i.e., for graduating). Good critical thinking skills, PCAT, and cumulative incoming GPA scores were essential for performing well in the didactic portion. Critical thinking disposition and skills both were essential for the experiential portion. Age group was negatively correlated with both didactic and career GPAs.
Implications for pharmacy education include (1) the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI) and Skills Test (CCTST) should be administered for advising and research; (2) the difference in didactic and career GPA predictors should be considered in curriculum development and when advising students; (3) communication and critical thinking skills should be emphasized throughout the curriculum, and (4) pharmacy schools should give admission preference to students with bachelor's degrees and should strongly consider implementing the CCTST as another selection factor.
Sheaffer, E.A. Predictors of academic performance at a technology-based school of pharmacy. Ph.D. thesis, George Mason University.
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