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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The relative efficiency of clinical and actuarial methods in the prediction of University freshman success. Simmons, Helen


The purpose of this study was to investigate the relative, efficiency of clinical and actuarial methods in predicting success of University freshmen. The clinical predictions were based on the judgements of two University counselors. The information available to the counselors consisted of an interview report sheet, scores from tests intended to measure general learning ability, English placement, mathematical ability, and an expression of vocational interests, as well as identifying information such as name, age, and other similar kinds of data. The actuarial prediction was based on a regression equation built on scores of two tests, one of mathematical ability, and one of English placement. These scores were among those available to the counselors. The regression equation was cross-validated in the study, since it was originally built on the scores obtained on these two tests by a previous sample of University freshmen, chosen on the same set of criteria. Predictions were made for 158 Arts freshmen registered at the University of British Columbia for courses amounting to exactly 15 units of credit (including two laboratory sciences and an introductory mathematics course of freshmen level). Each case included in the sample, had availed himself of University counselling and each counselor predicted only for those students he had personally counselled. One counselor predicted for 78 subjects, and, the other for 80 subjects. Predictions to success were made in terms of a "pass-fail” dichotomy. The relative efficiency of the two methods was tested against four criteria: better than chance prediction, homogeniety, relatedness, and "hit" predictions. In testing for "better-than-chance" prediction the accuracy of each method was compared with "chance prediction" accuracy, where "chance" accuracy was considered to be 50 per cent. In testing for homogeniety, the number of cases assigned to either category of the success dichotomy by each method was compared. In testing relatedness of predictions, a comparison was made in terms of agreement by the two methods in assigning, a given subject to one or the other category of the dichotomy. Finally, in comparing "hit" predictions, the number of predictions which were in fact correct predictions made by each method were used as the basis for comparison. Analysis of the obtained results showed no significant difference in efficiency of the actuarial and clinical methods in predicting success of University freshmen. Both methods were shown to be significantly better than chance predictors.

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