To the Editor:
In a recent article in Academic Medicine, Jerant et al1 found a statistically significant association between extroversion and performance on the Multiple Mini-Interview (MMI). Their data suggest that the MMI selects for individuals who are outgoing, interested in others, and skilled in the interpersonal domain—not altogether bad characteristics for health professionals. However, they viewed this finding as disquieting and suggested that the MMI “could contribute to reduced diversity of thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors in medical school classes,” although they acknowledged that this possibility requires further study.
Studies by others have shown that a consistent relation also exists between undergraduate GPA and conscientiousness.2,3 Presumably, this would lead to a similar concern: The use of the GPA may preferentially select students with high motivation, achievement, and academic performance.
Any selection instrument is effective only to the extent that it reduces diversity on some dimension that is, hopefully, related to future performance. In that respect, both the MMI and GPA represent a considerable advance over the personal interview, which was deliberately introduced at Harvard in the early 20th century to reduce ethnic diversity by preferentially selecting against Jewish applicants.4 Although it is no longer used for such discriminatory practices, the personal interview has been repeatedly demonstrated to have no relation to important educational outcomes.5,6
Geoffrey R. Norman, PhD
Professor of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics, McMaster University Faculty of Health Sciences, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; [email protected]
Kevin Eva, PhD
Professor, University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
PhD student, McMaster University Faculty of Health Sciences, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
1. Jerant A, Griffin E, Rainwater J, et al. Does applicant personality influence multiple mini-interview performance and medical school acceptance offers? Acad Med. 2012;87:1250–1259
2. Kulasegaram K, Reiter HI, Wiesner W, Hackett RD, Norman GR. Non-association between Neo-5 personality tests and multiple mini-interview. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2010;15:415–423
3. Duckworth AL, Seligman ME. Self-discipline outdoes IQ in predicting academic performance of adolescents. Psychol Sci. 2005;16:939–944
4. Karabel J The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale and Princeton. 2005 New York, NY Houghton Mifflin
5. Salvatori P. Reliability and validity of admissions tools used to select students for the health professions. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract. 2001;6:159–175
6. Albanese MA, Snow MH, Skochelak SE, Huggett KN, Farrell PM. Assessing personal qualities in medical school admissions. Acad Med. 2003;78:313–321