Assessment of current student selection criteria as performance predictors for academic success in entry level radiography education at the Central University of Technology
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The numbers of students enrolled in the Radiography programme at the Central University of Technology (CUT) are increasing each year, and selectors are therefore faced with critical admission decisions when selecting prospective students for a programme with limited spaces. This research study was undertaken to assess current student selection criteria in Radiography education, by retrospectively analysing the degree to which these criteria predicted actual academic performance over a three-year period amongst entry-level students enrolled in a three-year National Diploma in Radiography. The rationale behind the interest in student selection in Radiography education was the fact that the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) has approved and registered a professional Bachelor’s degree in Radiography (480 credits), with a new curriculum and altered exit-level outcomes, including research skills. The transition from a diploma-level to a degree-level qualification in Radiography in South Africa indicated that a review and an assessment of current diploma-level student selection criteria could provide a benchmark for selecting students for degree-level education. An extensive literature study and document analysis provided background information and perspectives related to student admission criteria and selection tests in the health sciences, both nationally and internationally. The research design and methodology included a retrospective quantitative study and document analysis. In the research process, data were collected for each student, including biographical data, prior tertiary education, matriculation or National Senior Certificate (NSC) subject marks and a total Admission Points Score (APS) as calculated from each matriculation certificate. The CUT selection test results for each student were also documented, and included a General Scholastic Aptitude Test (GSAT) score, an English Proficiency Test score and a Self-Directed Search Questionnaire score. By using the above selection scores, a total CUT Rating Score was calculated, and a statistical correlation procedure compared all of the above variables with the marks of all entry-level Radiography modules, for each first-year student in the study group. A further correlation procedure compared selection criteria with whether the student had achieved the first year exit-level outcomes, or whether they had not achieved these exit-level outcomes. The main findings of the statistical analysis indicated that certain selection criteria are valid and can be used as academic performance predictors. This retrospective research study presents data which shows success rates for entry-level Radiography students in diploma-level Radiography education at the CUT over a three-year period were at a level of 71.53%. Recommendations for the future degree-level student selection process were made, which included increasing NSC achievement level admission requirements, using the current tests of merit and implementing methods to help students make valid and informed decisions about their career choice. The goal of optimising the student selection process would evolve over a number of years, and degree-level Radiography education has already been implemented at certain institutions since January 2014. The aim of this study was fulfilled by assessing current selection criteria as performance predictors for academic success.