The use of noncognitive variables for admission into dental school

Charles J. Alexander, Marquette University


Predicting minority student success in higher education has received a great deal of attention in the last several years. While most of the work in this area has been done at the undergraduate level, professional schools have recently begun to show interest. According to Sedlacek and Brooks (1976), there are certain useful non-traditional predictors of academic performance for minority applicants that most admission committees seldom considered. Many of these predictors are related to the cultural backgrounds of minority students. The aim of the research effort was to examine the noncognitive characteristics of minority and nonminority freshman and sophomore students at a large Midwestern dental school. The research was focused in three general areas; (1) how successful are noncognitive variables in predicting first year academic performance; (2) which noncognitive variables are the most useful in predicting academic performance; and (3) are noncognitive variables better predictors of first year academic performance than traditional variables. A NonCognitive Questionnaire (NCQ) was utilized to gather data about the seven factors that Sedlacek and Brooks (1976) hypothesized to be related to minority students' academic success. The questionnaire was administered to 140 students, in which 49% were minority students and 51% were nonminority. The various statistical tests used in this study included Pearson's product moment correlation(r), t-test for the difference in group means, and multiple regression analysis. Correlation coefficients were calculated to determine the linear relationship between the variables of interest, while differences between minority and nonminority groups were tested with simple t-test. There was not enough evidence in the research to suggest that noncognitive variables are better predictors of first year success when selecting minority students. The NonCognitive Questionnaire (NCQ) revealed that minority students' scores on each noncognitive variable had no significant relationship to first year performance in dental school. The data suggest that traditional predictors alone do not consistently predict the performance of either minority or nonminority student. However, to imply that traditional predictors are inconclusive in predicting first year performance in dental school should not necessarily suggest they are useless. Traditional predictors may not be the best predictors by themselves, and they should be supplemented by other types of information such as noncognitive factors.

Recommended Citation

Alexander, Charles J., "The use of noncognitive variables for admission into dental school" (1988). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI8904263.