Use of the Paired-Comparison Technique to Determine the Most Valued Qualities of the McMaster Medical Programme Admissions Process
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The Undergraduate Medical Programme at McMaster University selects students using a comprehensive set of tools. Attempts to modify the selection process over many years have been impeded by an inability to reconcile very strongly held views among stakeholders as to the importance of the selection tools and, indeed, the very purposes of the admission process. The objective of this study was to identify key 'qualities' of the selection process and to measure their relative importance to admissions process assessors. Through a qualitative review of internal research documents, Medical Programme Admissions Committee meeting minutes, memos and accreditation surveys eight qualities of the admissions process were identified: validity, fairness, accessibility, comprehensiveness, affordability, legal defensibility, contribution to class diversity and the role of the process as a public statement of the Programme's values. Faculty, students and community admissions assessors were surveyed, by mail, using a paired-comparisons technique. The overall response rate was 58%. By a wide margin, all three groups of admissions assessors valued validity and fairness most highly. The least valued qualities were affordability and the role of the process as a statement of our values. Possible applications of this approach to the admissions process deliberations are discussed.
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