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The mediators of minority ethnic underperformance in final medical school examinations

Woolf, K; McManus, IC; Potts, HWW; Dacre, J; (2012) The mediators of minority ethnic underperformance in final medical school examinations. British Journal of Educational Psychology 10.1111/j.2044-8279.2011.02060.x. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Background: UK-trained medical students and doctors from minority ethnic groups underperform academically. It is unclear why this problem exists, which makes it difficult to know how to address it. Aim: Investigate whether demographic and psychological factors mediate the relationship between ethnicity and final examination scores. Sample: Two consecutive cohorts of Year 5 (final year) UCL Medical School students (n=703; 51% minority ethnic). 587 (83%) had previously completed a questionnaire in Year 3. Methods: Participants were administered a questionnaire that included a short version of the NEO-PI-R, the Study Process Questionnaire, and the General Health Questionnaire as well as socio-demographic measures in 2005 and 2006. Participants were then followed up to final year (2007 to 2010). White and minority ethnic students’ questionnaire responses and final examination grades were compared using univariate tests. The effect of ethnicity on final year grades after taking into account the questionnaire variables was calculated using hierarchical multiple linear regression. Results: Univariate ethnic differences were found on age, personality, learning styles, living at home, first language, parental factors and prior education. Minority ethnic students had lower final exam scores, were more likely to fail, and less likely to achieve a merit or distinction in finals. Multivariate analyses showed ethnicity predicted final exam scores even after taking into account questionnaire factors. Conclusions: Ethnic differences in the final year performance of two cohorts of UCL medical students were not due to differences in psychological or demographic factors, which suggests alternative explanations are responsible for the ethnic attainment gap in medicine.

Type:Article
Title:The mediators of minority ethnic underperformance in final medical school examinations
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI:10.1111/j.2044-8279.2011.02060.x
Publisher version:http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.2044-8279.2011.02060.x/full
Language:English
Additional information:This is the pre-peer-reviewed version of the following article: Woolf, K and McManus, IC and Potts, HWW and Dacre, J (2012) The mediators of minority ethnic underperformance in final medical school examinations. British Journal of Educational Psychology http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8279.2011.02060.x (In press), which has been made available as Early View online publication 22nd December 2011, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8279.2011.02060.x
Keywords:medical education, psychology, personality, attainment, assessment
UCL classification:UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > UCL Medical School > Academic Centre of Medical Education
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care > CHIME

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