Student selection process effectiveness: Correlations between task performance and undergraduate success


  • Catherine Hughes Unitec, Auckland
  • Helen Gremillion Unitec, Auckland
  • Geoff Bridgman Unitec, Auckland
  • Paul Ashley Unitec, Auckland
  • David McNabb Unitec, Auckland



education, selection, admission, M?ori, Pacific Island


INTRODUCTION: This article is a case study of student selection process effectiveness in an undergraduate social work degree at Unitec in Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. Addressing an internationally under-researched topic, it examines whether admitted candidates’ performance on selection day tasks correlate with their success in the programme.

METHODS: Applicant selection data were analysed for 2012 and 2013 cohorts (N = 196). Student success is measured in relation to outcomes across eight courses, considering both course completions and grades received. Correlational analyses were performed to address the research aim. The project also examined whether existing demographic data correlate with success, as these data represent potentially confounding variables.

FINDINGS: Performance on selection activities conducted as part of application to this degree does not correlate with course completions, and correlates only moderately with higher grades received for courses. Findings also show that students who are wage-earning or self-employed on admission, studying full time, and/or admitted well before their studies begin are more likely to succeed. No other demographic factors are correlated with student success.

CONCLUSIONS: This study supports existing literature documenting the ineffectiveness of selection criteria for social work programmes, and also addresses a gap in scholarship by examining the value of specific selection tools and measures. Factors that do correlate with student success suggest that being well-resourced as a student is paramount. Supporting students to succeed during the course of their study may be of higher value than attempting to select “suitable” students in the first place.

Author Biography

Catherine Hughes, Unitec, Auckland

Acting Head of Social Practice & Senior Lecturer: Department of Social Practice. Unitec.


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How to Cite

Hughes, C., Gremillion, H., Bridgman, G., Ashley, P., & McNabb, D. (2017). Student selection process effectiveness: Correlations between task performance and undergraduate success. Aotearoa New Zealand Social Work, 29(4), 32–48.



Original Articles