Admissions, Retention, and Licensure

Success shown with upward arrow with background of students jumping in celebration

These peer reviewed reports link critical thinking scores to professional licensure exam performance and other indicators of student success.

Predicting success in Doctor of Physical Therapy programs

  • Exploration of Relationships Among the Health Sciences Reasoning Test, the National Physical Therapy Licensing Examination, and Cognitive Admission Variables. Huhn K & Parrott JS. (2017) Journal of Physical Therapy Education. This study explored variables predicting successful performance in a Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Health Sciences Reasoning Test (HSRT), NPTE scores, GRE, and undergraduate GPA data was examined for predictors that might enhance the admissions process. This study was a retrospective analysis of academic records of 4 cohorts. A moderate bivariate correlation between the HSRT and the NPTE was identified, and a multivariable model in which the undergraduate GPA, the GPA at the end of the first year in a Doctor of Physical Therapy program, and GRE and HSRT scores were used to predict NPTE scores was demonstrated to improve model fit over that of a similar model without the HSRT. The models were used as the basis for creating an admissions decision tool. The HSRT may prove to be a valuable tool for predicting success in Doctor of Physical Therapy programs, especially for applicants whose GRE and undergraduate GPA scores are marginal.

Success Predictors of Associate Degree Completion in Respiratory Care

  • Assessment of Critical Thinking as a Predictor of Success in Completion of an Associate Degree Respiratory Care Program. Campbell FP. (2017) Northeastern University (Dissertation Abstract). The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between assessment of critical thinking as admission criteria as a predictor of success in the completion of an associate degree in respiratory care program. The research site was a community college located in the southern United States. The sample included 176 students who completed Health Sciences Reasoning Test (HSRT) as an admission criterion and were enrolled in the associate degree respiratory care program at the research site. Binary logistic regression models and univariate general linear regression models were completed to examine direct associations of select theoretically relevant variables as predictors of success. Direct associations tested in this study included critical thinking assessment at admission, along with student background information (age, gender, ethnicity, and admission GPA) were tested in various models, in relationship to successful completion (graduation status and final GPA) of an associate degree respiratory care program. Results indicated that the critical thinking assessment tool and strong academic standing are indicators to successful completion of the associate degree respiratory care program. Student background information (age, gender and ethnicity) was found to not indicate successful completion of the associate degree respiratory care program.

Predicting both didactic and clinical success in dental school

  • Critical Thinking Disposition and Skills in Dental Students: Development and Relationship to Academic Outcomes. Whitney EM, Aleksejuniene J, Walton JN. (2016) Journal of Dental Education. The aims of this study were to describe critical thinking disposition and skills in dental students at the beginning and end of their first year, examine cohort and gender effects, and compare their critical thinking test scores to their first-year grades. Volunteers from three student cohorts at the University of British Columbia were tested using the California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI) and California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) at the beginning and end of their first year. Based on the preliminary findings, one cohort was retested at graduation when their final-year grades and clinical advisor rankings were compared to their critical thinking test scores. The results showed that students who entered dental school with higher critical thinking scores tended to complete their first year with higher critical thinking scores, achieve higher grades, and show greater disposition to think critically at the start of the program. Students who demonstrated an ability to think critically and had a disposition to do so at the start of the program were also likely to demonstrate those same attributes at the completion of their training. High critical thinking scores were associated with success in both didactic and clinical settings in dental school.

Predictors of academic success in a family medicine residency program

  • Examining Critical Thinking Skills in Family Medicine Residents.Ross D and colleagues. (2016) Family Medicine. The objective of this study was to determine the relationship between critical thinking skills and objective measures of academic success in a family medicine residency program. This prospective observational cohort study was set in a large Canadian family medicine residency program. The California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST), administered at three points in residency: upon entry, at mid-point, and at graduation. Results from the CCTST, Canadian Residency Matching Service file, and interview scores were compared to other measures of academic performance (Medical Colleges Admission Test [MCAT] and College of Family Physicians of Canada [CCFP] certification examination results). RESULTS:For participants (n=60), significant positive correlations were found between critical thinking skills and performance on tests of knowledge CCTST OVERALL scores correlated positively with MCAT (r=0.57) as well as with each section score (verbal reasoning: r=0.59; physical sciences: r=0.64; biological sciences: r=0.54). For CCFP examination, CCTST correlated reliably with both sections (orals: r=0.34; short answer: r=0.47). Additionally, CCTST was a better predictor of performance on the CCFP exam than was the interview score at selection into the residency program (Fisher’s r-to-z test, z=2.25).  CONCLUSIONS: Success on a critical thinking skills exam was found to predict success on family medicine certification examinations. Given that critical thinking skills appear to be stable throughout residency training, including an assessment of critical thinking in the selection process may help identify applicants more likely to be successful on final certification exam.

Predictive of NPTE scores

  • The Association between Critical Thinking and Scholastic Aptitude on First-time Pass Rate of the National Physical Therapy Examination, Suckow DW and colleagues. (2015). University of Dayton eCommons  The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships among critical thinking (CT) abilities as measured by the CCTST, overall academic performance in the Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) program as measured by cumulative grade point average (GPA), and National Physical Therapy examination (NPTE) licensure scores, to determine if NPTE scores were significantly different between groups of students who were classified as having low, moderate or high CT abilities. A convenience sample of 91 DPT students completed a standard assessment of CT abilities three times. Complete sets of the three CCTST scores were available for 69 students, and NPTE scores were available for 73 graduates. The strongest correlation with the first-time NPTE score was the GPA (r = 0.735, p = 0.001), followed by the CCTST score at Measurement 1 (r = 0.413, p = 0.0001). Graduates who were classified as having low CT abilities had a 100% failure rate on the first attempt for the NPTE, and scored significantly lower on the exam compared to graduates with moderate or high CT abilities (615.33, 634.6, and 652.43, respectively p = 0.0005). Implementing pedagogical practices that foster CT abilities and/or using a CCTST score of 18 or greater as DPT program entry criterion may equate to greater first time NPTE pass rates for program graduates.

Inference Skill Predictive of Psychology Degree Performance

  • The validity of critical thinking tests for predicting degree performance: A longitudinal study. O’Hare L & McGuinness C. (2015). International Journal of Educational Research. This study explored the validity of using critical thinking tests to predict final psychology degree marks over and above that already predicted by traditional admission exams (A-levels). Participants were a longitudinal sample of 109 psychology students from a university in the United Kingdom. The outcome measures were: total degree marks; and end of year marks. The predictor measures were: university admission exam results (A-levels); critical thinking test scores (skills & dispositions); and non-verbal intelligence scores. Hierarchical regressions showed A-levels significantly predicted 10% of the final degree score and the 11-item measure of ‘inference skills’ from the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) significantly predicted an additional 6% of degree outcome variance. The critical thinking skill of Inference was found to be a key predictor of performance. The findings from this study should inform decisions about the precise measurement constructs included in aptitude tests used in the higher education admission process.

Predictive of NBDHE Scores

  • Predictive validity of critical thinking skills and disposition for the national board dental hygiene examination: a preliminary investigation. Williams KB et al. (2006). Journal of Dental Education. The objective of this study was to determine if preexisting critical thinking skills and critical thinking disposition predict student performance on the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE). Hierarchical multiple regression analyses demonstrated that CCTST scores explained a statistically significant (p<.05) proportion of variance in students’ multiple-choice and case-based NBDHE scores, above and beyond that explained by age, GPA or college credit hours at program entry. CCTDI did not predict licensure.

Predictive of NAPLEX Scores

  • Preadmission predictors of PharmD graduates’ performance on the NAPLEX. McCall KL et al. (2007). American Journal of Pharmacy Education. The CCTST total score, is a pre pharmacy predictor of successful licensure as a pharmacist (NAPLEX test). Age, advanced science education courses and previous BS or MS degree were not significantly correlated with NAPLEX.

Predicting Student Retention

  • The influence of critical thinking skills on performance and progression in a pre-registration nursing program. Pitt V, et al, Schools of Nursing, Midwifery and Psychology, University of Newcastle, Australia. Nurse Educ Today. (2015). This longitudinal correlational study used the Health Sciences Reasoning Test (HSRT) to measure critical thinking skills in a sample (n=134) of students, at entry and exit (three years later). A one sample t-test was used to determine if differences existed between matched student critical thinking scores between entry and exit points. There was a significant relationship between critical thinking scores, academic performance and students’ risk of failing, especially in the first semester of study. Critical thinking scores were predictive of program completion within three years.

Predicting Academic Success

  • Association of Health Sciences Reasoning Test scores with academic and experiential performance. Cox WC, et al. School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Am J Pharm Educ. (2014). The HSRT was administered to 329 first-year (P1) PharmD students in a doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) curriculum. Performance on the HSRT and its subscales was compared with academic performance in 29 courses throughout the curriculum and with performance in advanced pharmacy practice experiences (APPEs). Significant positive correlations were found between course grades in 8 courses and HSRT overall scores. All significant correlations were accounted for by pharmaceutical care laboratory courses, therapeutics courses, and a law and ethics course. There was a lack of moderate to strong correlation between HSRT scores and academic and experiential performance. The usefulness of the HSRT as a tool for predicting student success may be limited.

Predicting Academic Success

  • The health sciences reasoning test in the pharmacy admissions process. Kelsch MP, Friesner DL. College of Pharmacy, Nursing, and Allied Sciences, North Dakota State University. Am J Pharm Educ. (2014) To evaluate the impact of including Health Sciences Reasoning Test (HSRT) scores in the doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) admissions process compared with other criteria used. The HSRT was administered to all pre pharmacy students who were selected for an interview (n=122) as part of the PharmD program admissions process. The correlation between total HSRT scores and other measures used in the admissions process then was evaluated. Candidate rankings were not noticeably different when the HSRT scores were excluded from the admission process. The HSRT scores were significantly and highly correlated with applicants’ Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) cumulative percentile scores.

Support for Admissions

  • Correlation of the Health Sciences Reasoning Test with student admission variables. Cox WC, et al. School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Am J Pharm Educ. (2013). During the student admissions process, cognitive data, including undergraduate grade point average and Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) scores, were collected from matriculating doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) students. Between 2007 and 2009, the HSRT was administered to 329 first-year PharmD students. Correlations between HSRT scores and cognitive data, previous degree, and gender were examined. After controlling for other predictors, 3 variables were significantly associated with HSRT scores: percentile rank on the reading comprehension (p<0.001), verbal (p<0.001), and quantitative (p<0.001) subsections of the PCAT. Scores on the reading comprehension, verbal, and quantitative sections of the PCAT were significantly associated with HSRT scores. Some elements of critical thinking may be measured by these PCAT subsections. However, the HSRT offers information absent in standard cognitive admission criteria.

Predicting Academic Success of Medical Professionals

  • Do scores on three commonly used measures of critical thinking correlate with academic success of health professions trainees? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Ross D, et al. (2013). Department of Family Medicine, University of Alberta Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, Canada. Academic Medicine. Studies comparing critical thinking with academic success among medical professionals were included. Two authors performed study selection independently, with disagreement resolved by consensus. Two authors independently abstracted data on study characteristics, quality, and outcomes, with disagreement resolved by a third author. Critical thinking tests studied were the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST), California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDI), and Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal. The search identified 557 studies: 52 met inclusion for systematic review, 41 of which were meta-analyzed. Critical thinking was positively correlated with academic success, r=0.31 (95% confidence intervals [CI] 0.26, 0.35), with a moderate statistical heterogeneity (I=67%).

Professional Development

  • Exploring the utility of measures of critical thinking dispositions and professional behavior development in an audiology education program. Ng SL, et al. Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Canada. J Am Acad Audiol. (2013). A strong critical thinking disposition, paired with critical consciousness, may provide future health professionals with a foundation for solving challenging practice problems through the application of sound technical skill and scientific knowledge without sacrificing sensitive, empathic, client-centered practice. We designed this exploratory study to describe the trajectory of change for a small cohort of audiology students’ critical thinking dispositions (measured by the CCTDI and professional behaviors (Comprehensive Professional Behaviors Development Log-Audiology [CPBDL-A]). The CCTDI and CPBDL-A were each completed at three time points: beginning, middle, and near the end of the audiology education program. For the CCTDI, there was a general downward trend from time point 1 to time point 2 and a general upward trend from time point 2 to time point 3. Students demonstrated upward trends from the initial to final time point for their self-assessed development of professional behaviors as indicated on the CPBDL-A. The CCTDI and CPBDL-A can be used by audiology education programs as mechanisms for inspiring, fostering, and monitoring the development of critical thinking dispositions and key professional behaviors in students. Feedback and mentoring about dispositions and behaviors in conjunction with completion of these measures is recommended for inspiring and fostering these key professional attributes.

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