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From Health Sciences Accreditation to Graduate Admissions

Insight Asssessment Health Science Reasoning Test (HSRT)

How did a pilot program using the HSRT for undergraduate accreditation data lead to the implementation of a critical thinking assessment program for graduate admissions?

  • It’s simple—when the health sciences admissions program saw the value and benefits of the pilot program report data, they knew the HSRT would help them objectively identify graduate applicants with exceptional potential for professional success.

Phase 1: Assessing critical thinking skills of undergraduate students for accreditation self-study

The pilot program started with a re-accreditation assessment project for one of the school’s undergraduate health sciences programs.  The data needed was a snapshot comparing the critical thinking and numeracy skills of the program’s incoming students to the scores of exiting students and their first time pass rate on the state’s professional licensure exam. 

The accreditation project team selected the Health Science Reasoning Test because it targeted the right skills, used engaging professional scenarios and the testing licenses were very affordable.  The students took the test via our  app based online administration , appreciating the secure, encrypted 24x7x365 availability. 

  • As soon as the students had completed the test, the professor was able to go online to use the Insight Assessment score reporting tool to pull down group score reports, statistical summaries, and bar charts showing the score distributions. The professor discovered that the correlation between graduating students’ overall critical thinking score and their first time pass rate on the state’s licensure exam were very strongly related. The group could be benchmarked against the national sample of health sciences undergrads by specialty. There were specialty specific graduate level percentiles as well.

Phase 2: Evaluating HSRT data for use in graduate admissions
Histogram showing CCTST Critical Thinking Skills Overall Strong and Weak Score Distribution

The goal of a selective admissions program is to admit the best entering cohort possible, identifying students who have the highest potential to succeed in academic programs and to pass their licensure test on their first attempt.  The next phase was the evaluation of the critical thinking data delivered by the HSRT to determine its relevance to graduate admissions.

  • Seeing the value and comprehensiveness of the HSRT undergraduate pilot data, the dean of graduate admissions realized that this type of comprehensive individual and group data about thinking skills would be invaluable for the advising and retention programs for incoming graduate students—and for the graduate admissions program.  
  • The decision was reinforced by the lists of independent research publications on the Insight Assessment website that document the value of their instruments and the predictive validity of the Insight Assessment instrument.
  • The dean discovered that the HSRT was the right test for graduate programs in health sciences, and that business professional programs and other selective graduate programs were using the  BCTST , CCTST and other Insight Assessment tests that were predictive of success in their professional programs. 

 Phase 3: Assessing the critical thinking skills of entering health science graduate students  

  • The next fall semester, the HSRT was administered to the entering health science graduate student cohort.  Each of the grad programs received reports of their individual student cohorts, and the dean got reports of the entire school. The departments were happy to see that most entering students’ scores indicated their readiness to undertake the graduate curriculum, and predicted a likely first time pass on the licensure exam. But some had low scores, and those turned out to be students whom the professors knew were already having trouble in their courses.

Phase 4: Integrating the HSRT as a tool in health science graduate student admissions process

  • The following year several of the programs started using the HSRT as a part of their graduate admissions decision making. Applicants took the test online and their scores were sent automatically directly to the graduate admissions office. The Health Sciences school then decided to adopt the HSRT as the admissions instrument for the entire school.  Using the data it had gathered, it determined a preferred minimal score for graduate admissions.
The process, which started as a simple re-accreditation project with one undergraduate Health Science program, culminated in the adoption of the HSRT as the graduate student admissions exam, positioning the school to select applicants with an exceptional potential for professional success. 

Our assessment specialists hope this scenario demonstrates the power delivered by the HSRT metrics . Contact us to see the metrics provided by our comprehensive array of thinking skills and mindset test instruments.

Insight Assessment services include exceptionally versatile delivery options , peer benchmark norms, individual and group reports, complimentary learning resources, and more. Contact us.  We’ll be glad to discuss ways that the assessment of thinking using our profession specific test instruments can increase your graduate student success and institutional effectiveness.

Follow our blog, Thinking INSIGHT , for more discussion of training and assessing critical thinking skills and mindset.

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