Holistic versus actuarial student selection

William Craig McGaghie*, Clarence D. Kreiter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 in the Gratz et al. v. Bollinger et al. and the Grutter v. Bollinger et al. cases that affirmative action selection policies aimed at student diversity in higher and professional education are acceptable on constitutional grounds. The court also ruled that "holistic," "individualized" selection procedures, not "mechanical" methods, must be used to achieve student diversity goals. Summary: This brief essay reviews and critiques professional and academic literature that addresses the two court cases and their likely sequelae. The weight of scientific evidence dating from at least 1954 shows that actuarial procedures are superior to holistic, individualized procedures to fulfill a priori student selection policy goals fairly and consistently. Conclusions: The higher and professional education community, including medicine, should support the Supreme Court's student diversity policy but should insist the court change its reliance on holistic, individualized decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-91
Number of pages3
JournalTeaching and Learning in Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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