Why do ethnic minority students under

Why Do Ethnic Minority Students
Under-Achieve Academically?
MARK CARROLL ~ Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry
JAMES MACKENZIE ~ Intercalated BSc student
Barts and The London
Evidence for a general problem
Ethnic minority students and graduates under-achieve academically
in many areas of Medicine:
~ Predicting the ‘strugglers’ (Yates & James, 2006)
~ ‘Early performance’ predictors (Lumb & Vail, 2004)
~ Year 3 OSCE (Woolf et al., 2008)
~ Year 5 OSCE (Wass et al., 2003)
~ Year 5 written exams (McManus et al., 1996)
~ MRCP (UK) exams (Dewhurst et al., 2007)
But there have been few studies of the early years of the MBBS
How to address the question?
Study one cohort of MBBS students (2007 intake) at an early
stage of the course (Years 1+2):
1. Statistical analysis of academic outcomes and related
2. Qualitative research with students
On basis of self-declared ethnicity, categorised as ‘white’
or ‘non-white’.
Quantitative studies ~ variables studied
Academic achievement at medical school:
~ Pass/Fail MBBS Part 1 (end of Year 1)
~ scores in end-of-year exam papers (coursework, EMQs,
SAQs, practical/OSCE)
~ age
~ sex
~ ethnicity
~ highest qualification on entry (HQE)
~ UCAS tariff scores (A/AS levels); UKCAT scores (entrance
~ Home/EU or International
~ attendance (at PBL tutorials)
Quantitative studies ~ t-tests and correlations
~ Significant differences between ‘white’ (n = 92) and ‘non-white’
(n = 168) students with respect to:
Age (white students older, p < 0.05)
Verbal reasoning skills (white students better, p < 0.001)
HQE (relatively more white graduates, p < 0.001)
Performance in MBBS Part 1 exams (white students better in
terms of fewer Fails and higher % scores, p < 0.001)
~ No differences with respect to:
UCAS tariff scores; most UKCAT domain scores; attendance
~ Excluding International students does not affect outcomes
Quantitative studies ~ regression analysis
Performance at MBBS Part 1:
~ Significant unique variables with respect to Pass/Fail end-ofYear 1 exams are: UCAS tariff scores and Ethnicity
~ Significant unique variables with respect to end-of-Year 1 %
exam scores are: UCAS tariff scores (all papers); Ethnicity and
HQE (some papers)
~ Other variables in the model do not make a significant unique
contribution: UKCAT scores, sex, age, Home/International status
~ Model only accounts for 10~20% of total variance
Qualitative studies ~ questionnaire
~ Single paper-based question at end of tutorial; written
responses; anonymous (n = 24)
~ Factors identified:
family pressures (problems, commitments)
work ethic (attitude, time management, independent study)
distractions (peer group pressure, paid employment)
Qualitative studies ~ focus groups
~ Difficult to engage students from Asian ethnic backgrounds
~ 4 ethnically homogeneous focus groups (Asian, Black, White) (n = 14)
~ Emerging themes:
motivation to study Medicine
social transition
work ethic
time constraints
educational transition
peer pressure
It’s like, ”I’m finally here”, and so they kind of just kick back a bit ~
female, Sri Lankan, focus group 4
~ Main significant unique variables contributing to academic success at
MBBS Part 1 are:
prior educational attainment (no surprise there!)
ethnicity (‘white’ / ‘non-white’)
~ Multiple contributory factors to academic under-achievement by ‘nonwhite’ students in Year 1:
family-related constraints
time- and money-related constraints
academic constraints (work ethic and study patterns)
~ Haven’t captured all significant contributory variables in this study
Further work?
~ Combine cohorts and repeat quantitative studies
~ Study ethnic sub-groups in combined cohorts
~ Include socio-economic background data and award of Merits
~ Extend ethnographic qualitative studies
Viv Cook (BL) – qualitative analysis
Kath Woolf (UCL) - multiple aspects
Any questions?
Mark Carroll, [email protected]