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18.12.2017 | PhD Report | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

Perspectives on Medical Education 1/2018

Effects of medical school selection on student motivation: a PhD thesis report

Perspectives on Medical Education > Ausgabe 1/2018
Anouk Wouters



High stakes are involved in student selection, for both medical schools and applicants. This thesis investigated the effects of selection on the medical student population and applicant pool in the Dutch setting.


This thesis consists of six papers: two quantitative studies, one qualitative study, two mixed methods studies and one perspective paper based on a review of the literature.


(1) Compared with a lottery, selection does not result in a student population with better motivation, engagement and performance, both in the clinical and pre-clinical phases of the study. (2) Selection seems to have a temporary stimulating effect on student motivation through enhancing perceived autonomy, competence and relatedness. (3) Applicants adopt a strategic approach, based on the selection procedure, in their choice of medical school. (4) The description of an applicant’s motivation is not a reliable and valid tool to assess motivation during selection. (5) Gaining healthcare experience is crucial for applicants’ motivation, but inequalities in access to such experiences can demotivate certain student groups from applying to medical school. (6) The gains yielded from selection compared with a lottery seem to be small. Unintentionally induced self-selection among certain groups of students and biased selection procedures may compromise student diversity.


The added value of selection procedures compared with a weighted lottery for admitting students to medical school is questionable. Students are generally motivated and perform well, irrespective of how they enrolled in medical school. Selection yields only small gains, while student diversity may be hampered.
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