Identifying potential candidates with the highest potential for success in a doctoral-level physical therapy (DPT) program continues to challenge admissions boards nationwide, as shown by significant variations in admissions criteria between programs throughout the United States. Multiple studies have looked at admissions factors looking to identify specific relationships that predict academic success. The general consensus amongst multiple studies show that the most significant identifiers of academic success are Cumulative Grade Point Average (cGPA)1-8 and prerequisite Grade Point Average (pGPA)4-6 demonstrating a moderate correlation, followed closely by Graduate Record Examination (GRE)6-8. It has been noted after reviewing the pre-admission requirements of multiple physical therapy programs that many schools are now limiting the number of prerequisite courses that may be retaken by admissions candidates. This finding suggests that there is concern that the cGPA and pGPA may not truly reflect the potential for academic success in students who repeated prerequisite courses, thus raising their cGPA and pGPA. The purpose of this study was to identify if there was a difference in DPT academic performance between students who repeated a prerequisite course (rPR) and those who did not repeat a prerequisite course (nrPR).
Admissions data were retrospectively collected for 159 students from five graduating classes at two separate DPT programs between the years 2012 to 2015. All students were then divided into two groups: nrPR group (n= 88) and rPR group (n=71). The average age of the nrPR group was 24.26 + 4.34 years, and the rPR group was 24.60 + 3.62 years. The respective pGPA was nrPR 3.27 + .25 and rPR 3.34 + .25. The cGPA of the nrPR group was 3.16 + .25 and the rPR group was 3.30 + .31. The data on the following DPT academic performance criteria were compiled: 1) year-1 GPA (1GPA), 2) year-2 GPA (2GPA), and 3) graduation cGPA (GGPA). Data were analyzed using 2-tailed Independent t-tests to identify any statistically significant differences in DPT academic performance between students who repeated prerequisite courses and students who did not. Alpha level was adjusted using a Bonferroni Correction to .016.
Although the nrPR group showed better performance than the rPR group in all three DPT GPAs, there was no statistically significant difference found in DPT academic performance between two groups: for 1GPA, t(157)=1.294, p=.198; for 2GPA, t(157)=.876, p=.382; for GGPA, t(157)=.682, p=.492.
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: Through the Looking Glass: Transforming Physical Therapy Education
The results of this study demonstrated no statistically significant difference in DPT academic performance between students repeating prerequisite courses versus those who didn’t repeat prerequisites. This would suggest that the recent trend of academic programs limiting the number of repeated prerequisites for their applicants may not serve to identify the best candidates.
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