Measuring noncognitive behaviors and characteristics in allied health program admissions processes
Collins, Deanne Dotson
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Screening processes for competitive adult education health professional programs are a necessity. Appropriately screening candidates for these professional programs makes the best use of faculty and institutional resources and better ensures future success of the student. Gardner’s (1983) theory of emotional intelligence provides a conceptual framework for the assessment of noncognitive behaviors and characteristics. An action research case study using mixed methods examined alternative measures of noncognitive behaviors and characteristics for allied health programmatic admissions processes. Working over a three year time period, an action research team of healthcare professionals collaboratively identified and implemented alternative measures to the interview. The Emotional Quotient Inventory ® (EQi), (Bar-On, 1988) was chosen to measure noncognitive behaviors because it is a standardized assessment proven to be both valid and reliable. A total of 40 allied health students participated as well as five action research team members who are all healthcare faculty. Using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences, results of the EQi were compared to student interviews and clinical evaluations. Within this study, the results showed that, when compared to programmatic interviews, the EQi was not strongly correlated with the interview tool currently used in one of the allied healthcare programs, though it correlated with the clinical evaluations in the other program. More research needs to be conducted given the small size of the sample and the differing results for each program. Based on these findings, action research team members improved current assessment tools used in each program, and are implementing an assessment that measures these behaviors in other programs. Recommendations for further study include adoption of the assessment model used here that monitors the relationship between structured admissions interviews and mid-program clinical performance. Finally, more research is needed on the use of the EQi as one component of a multi-dimensional admissions process in healthcare fields that depend on both cognitive and emotional intelligence.