Factors Associated with Academic Success at Vienna Medical School: Prospective Survey

Frischenschlager, Oskar; Haidinger, Gerald; Mitterauer, Lukas
February 2005
Croatian Medical Journal;2005, Vol. 46 Issue 1, p58
Academic Journal
Aim: To identify factors relating to students' success in the study of medicine at the Medical University of Vienna. In view of Austria's tradition of open access to higher education, which results large number of students, high dropout rate, long duration of studies, factors predicting success could be helpful for student counseling. Methods: In a prospective study, 674 freshmen (50.8% of students enrolled that year) responded to a questionnaire on their sociodemographic data, family background, performance in school, economic situation, living conditions, social integration and health, learning capacity, motivations related to studies and future profession, attitudes, and the ability to cope with stress. We used the results of the compulsory test of knowledge after the first year as an outcome measure of their success. Results: By comparing two extremes of academic success, very successful students and students who twice failed the challenging first-year exam, we were able to identify three factors relevant in predicting academic success: male sex, German as mother tongue, and good performance in secondary school. Moreover, there is evidence that maturity and intrinsic motivational structure are linked to superior academic performance. Conclusion: The results of this study differ from or even contradict the findings of previous retrospective studies in Austria. We suggest that a more thorough examination of the effect of gender should be undertaken in future studies. We also hope that our work will lead to the improvement in the efficiency of the German courses for foreign students. Our findings confirm the importance of success in secondary school, but also clearly indicate that it should not be the only criterion for university admission.


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