Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Medical Sciences (Design, Measurement, and Evaluation)


R. Brian Haynes


Each year, educational programs, with the responsibility of graduating health professionals, face the dilemma of selecting the most suitable candidates from numerous applicants. Since the number of positions in these classes is limited, the goal underlying the admission procedure is to identify those most likely to succeed.

Nursing programs, in particular, have had difficulty in realizing this goal. Despite the use of a variety of selection devices by different schools, the attrition rate of nursing students consistently remains between 30 and 40 percent.

The reduction of this attrition rate, by careful examination of various admission methods, will be addressed in this thesis. First, the scientific literature examining attrition and admission procedures in nursing, as well as other disciplines, will be reviewed. Following this, the extent of the attrition problem, specifically in the baccalaureate nursing program at McMaster University, will be explored by means of a retrospective analysis of four years of data. Finally, the design of two randomized controlled trials, each addressing one of two categories of applicants, will be described.

The McMaster baccalaureate nursing program presently assesses candidates applying for a position directly upon completion of secondary school on the basis of Grade 13 marks. A second group, 'special' applicants, are considered on the basis of interview scores. The designs will examine two selection devices--the autobiographical letter and the team interview.

An additional feature of the proposed study is that all applicants will participate in each admission procedure, but will be blind to the device used to determine their admission. Data about the alternate selection tools will be available for analysis at the end of the study.

The validity of the selection devices will be assessed by the examination of four outcome measures. First, success of students in terms of remaining in the program, failing, and withdrawing will be monitored. Second and third, grades in nursing courses for the first two years of the program will be recorded, as well as grades in nursing science courses. Lastly, first and second year tutors will be asked to evaluate the students in terms of their abilities in self-directed learning, problem-solving, interpersonal relations, and self-evaluation.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."