The Impact of Gender on High-Stakes Dental Evaluations
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Publisher:American Association of Dental Schools
Citation:Henry W. Fields, Anne M. Fields, and F. Michael Beck, "The Impact of Gender on High-Stakes Dental Evaluations," Journal of Dental Education 67, no. 6 (2003): 654-660.
The purpose of this study was to determine whether gender affects high-stakes test performance among dental students. Our sample consisted of 128 women and 323 men from six consecutive dental classes for which we recorded AADSAS overall and science predental GPAs; Dental Admission Test (DAT) scores; National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) I and II scores and pass/fail status; North East Regional Board of Dental Examiners (NERB) pass/fail status; and cumulative GPAs following the spring quarter of year two and summer quarter of year four of dental school. DAT scores, when controlled for previous academic performance, revealed that men significantly outperformed women in all areas except reading comprehension and biology, where the women’s scores significantly exceeded the men’s and were comparable, respectively. NBDE I results favored men and approached significance (p=0.066), while for Part II men significantly outscored women. NBDE I and II and NERB pass rates showed no significant differences. These board results were also controlled for previous academic performance. Although we found that differences existed between genders, which appear to be the ramification of the classic high-stakes dilemma (women do as well as men in the classroom and on course-related tests, but less well on gatekeeper board exams), the context mitigates their operational effects. DAT differences are likely reduced by most admissions processes, but may be problematic when selected predictive algorithms are used. Practically, the NBDE I and II results are unlikely to meaningfully influence women’s academic progress in dental school or postgraduate education admissions due to their magnitude and timing.