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Holistic Review in Graduate Admissions: What we need to Know

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The pathway to becoming a scientist leads through graduate school, and graduate admissions committees are the gatekeepers. This webinar will, co-hosted by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU), and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), will explore existing evidence for holistic review in graduate admissions and critical gaps in evidence that need to be addressed before implementing the practice broadly across programs.

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Holistic Review in Graduate Admissions: What we need to Know

  1. 1. Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce Webinar Series Thursday, November 3, 12:00-1:00 p.m. ET
  2. 2.  If you cannot hear the audio, check the “Audio” pane on the control panel. You can use your speakers or dial-in using your telephone.  You may ask questions at any time using the chat box.  Handouts
  3. 3.  Webinar series on Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce  Share findings from the USU/APLU/AAMC report (July 2016)  Upcoming webinars: www.uuhealth.org/our- work/upcoming-events
  4. 4.  One definition: Holistic review is a flexible, individualized way of assessing an applicant’s capabilities by which balanced consideration is given to experience, attributes, and academic metrics (Source: AAMC, 2013)  Robust evidence from undergraduate and professional admissions, but less common among doctoral programs.
  5. 5.  Holistic Admissions in the Health Professions (September 2014)  Schools using many holistic admission practices reported increased student body diversity  Student success metrics (e.g., graduation rate, GPA) remained the same or increased
  6. 6. Moderator: Ambika Mathur, Ph.D. Associate Provost for Scientific Workforce Training, Development and Diversity, and Dean of the Graduate School at Wayne State University
  7. 7. Ambika Mathur, Ph.D. Associate Provost for Scientific Workforce Training, Development and Diversity, and Dean of the Graduate School at Wayne State University
  8. 8. Julia Kent, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President for Communications, Advancement and Best Practices at the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS).
  9. 9. Julia Kent Assistant Vice President Communications, Advancement and Best Practices Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) Holistic Review: Promising Practices and Remaining Needs
  10. 10. Presentation Goals • Highlight what we know about current state of graduate admissions • Share “Promising Practices” and recommendations for graduate institutions seeking to implement more holistic admissions processes • Identity pressing needs and priorities
  11. 11. A Working Definition “A process by which programs consider a broad range of characteristics, including noncognitive and personal attributes, when reviewing applications for admission.” (CGS, 2016)
  12. 12. Overview of CGS Project • Sponsored by • Activities: research, survey of CGS members, workshop with deans & other experts • Final Report now online • Session on project at 2016 NAGAP meeting (April 14)
  13. 13. CGS Student Life Cycle Survey: Topics Covered • Who holds authority for making admissions decisions • Relative importance of different types of admissions materials • Applicant qualities deserving greater attention • Availability and use of rubrics • Barriers to holistic review and needed information • Practices associated with holistic review
  14. 14. Academic Credentials are Considered First Most graduate programs value quantifiable metrics (such as GPA and standardized test scores) in early stages of the admissions process. They shift to considering more qualitative materials (such as letters of recommendations and personal or research statements) in later stages. Source: CGS Student Life Cycle Survey
  15. 15. Qualities Deserving More Attention – Master’s Admissions Source: CGS Student Life Cycle Survey 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% Past academics Critical thinking ability Fit with program Writing Ability Grad school staff Faculty and Staff outside the graduate school
  16. 16. Qualities Deserving More Attention – Doctoral Admissions Source: CGS Student Life Cycle Survey 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% Critical thinking Research, Work Experience Fit with program Writing ability Graduate School Staff Faculty and Staff outside the Graduate School
  17. 17. Promising Practices 1. Demonstrate a clear commitment to excellence through diversity throughout the graduate education system. 2. Gather and analyze department-specific data on graduate admissions. 3. Provide faculty members who make admissions decisions with the context needed to evaluate students appropriately. 4. Provide faculty with information on the appropriate use of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).
  18. 18. Promising Practices (continued) 5. Offer guidance on the optimal sequence for reviewing application materials. 6. Support communication and alliances between faculty and recruitment officers to ensure that admissions and recruitment efforts are well-aligned. 7. Provide faculty with rubrics for evaluating applicants so that admissions criteria are more transparent and consistently applied. 8. Consider alternative funding models (especially in doctoral programs) that might enable new thinking about admissions.
  19. 19. Pressing Needs & Concerns • More data are needed that demonstrate the link between admissions criteria and student success. • Limited staff and faculty time is considered the greatest barrier to performing more holistic admissions processes for graduate programs.
  20. 20. Further Information Contact: Julia Kent, jkent@cgs.nche.edu Maureen McCarthy, mmccarthy@cgs.nche.edu Download the free electronic report at www.cgsnet.org and order additional print copies.
  21. 21. Keivan G. Stassun, Ph.D., Stevenson Endowed Professor of Physics & Astronomy and Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education and Research at Vanderbilt University.
  22. 22. Nature (2014, 510, 303)
  23. 23. How GRE suppresses diversity Miller & Stassun (2014, Nature) 23% 44% 8%
  24. 24. GRE does have some residual correlation with long-term success Note: These are “in-group” correlations, i.e. after adjusting for the dominant correlations with gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic status. Kuncel & Hezlett (2010)
  25. 25. Identifying Students With the Right Stuff What roles are we looking for?  Commitment and academic potential  Productive, creative, entrepreneurial researchers  Effective teachers and mentors  Transformational leadership What qualities predict success?  Passion, “fire in the belly”  Ability to succeed in relevant courses  Ability in the laboratory  Persistence in the face of hardship (the “P” in PhD)  Entrepreneurial spirit Two most important elements in admissions: (1) basic academic preparation, (2) grit “performance character”, “successful intelligence”
  26. 26. Stassun et al (2011, Am. Journ. Phys.) fisk-vanderbilt-bridge.org Measuring grit and growth mindset
  27. 27. Stassun et al (2011, Am. Journ. Phys.)
  28. 28. Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Program “Firsts”  First Black woman to receive PhD in physics from Yale; NSF postdoc fellow.  First Black woman to publish first-author astronomy paper in Nature; faculty at Penn State.  First Sioux woman to earn advanced physics degree; postdoc at DOE national lab.  First Native Hawaiian woman to receive NSF graduate fellowship; postdoc at Caltech.  85% PhD completion rate, 100% placement post-PhD.
  29. 29. fisk-vanderbilt-bridge.org
  30. 30. Courtney Ferrell Aklin, Ph.D., Chief of Staff, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institutes of Health
  31. 31.  Please submit questions through the chatbox
  32. 32.  Recording will be emailed to you (feel free to share)  Contact info: ◦ Julia Michaels, Project Manager ◦ jmichaels@aplu.org (202) 478-6071 ◦ http://www.uuhealth.org  Next webinar… Addressing Unconscious Bias in Higher Education Friday, January 13, 12:00-1:00 p.m. Eastern Time

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