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J Educ Eval Health Prof > Epub ahead of print
J Educ Eval Health Prof. 2021; 18: 31.
Published online November 23, 2021.
[Epub ahead of print]
The relationship of non-cognitive factors to academic and clinical performance in graduate rehabilitation science students in the United States: a systematic review
Kelly Reynolds1,2  , Caroline Bazemore1  , Cannon Hanebuth1  , Steph Hendren3  , Maggie Horn1 
1Physical Therapy Division, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC, USA
2Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Provo, UT, USA
3Duke University Medical Center Library, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
Correspondence  Kelly Reynolds ,Email:
Editor:  Sun Huh, Hallym University, Korea
Submitted: October 8, 2021  Accepted after revision: November 5, 2021
Rehabilitation science programs utilize cognitive and non-cognitive factors to select students who can complete the didactic and clinical portions of the program and pass the licensure exam. Cognitive factors such a prior grade point average and standardized test scores are known to be predictive of academic performance, but the relationship of non-cognitive factors and performance is less clear. The purpose of this systematic review was to explore the relationship of non-cognitive factors to academic and clinical performance in rehabilitation science programs.
A search of 7 databases was conducted using the following eligibility criteria: graduate programs in physical therapy (PT), occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, United States-based programs, measurement of at least 1 non-cognitive factor, measurement of academic and/or clinical performance, and quantitative reporting of results. Articles were screened by title, abstract, and full text, and data were extracted.
After the comprehensive screening, 21 articles were included in the review. Seventy-six percent of studies occurred in PT students. Grit, self-efficacy, emotional intelligence, and stress were the most commonly studied factors. Only self-efficacy, emotional intelligence, and personality traits were examined in clinical and academic contexts. The results were mixed for all non-cognitive factors. Higher grit and self-efficacy tended to be associated with better performance, while stress was generally associated with worse outcomes.
No single non-cognitive factor was consistently related to clinical or academic performance in rehabilitation science students. There is insufficient evidence currently to recommend the evaluation of a specific non-cognitive factor for admissions decisions.
Keywords: Academic performance; Achievement; Emotional intelligence; Self-efficacy; Students
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