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International Perspectives on Higher Education Admission Policy

A Reader

Series:

Edited By Virginia Stead

The promise of this admission policy reader arises from the embodiment of research from 58 authors, six continents, 20 time zones, 20+ first languages, and a broad array of research methodologies. Four sections aggregate key themes within the text:
(1) National Perspectives on Higher Education Admission Policy;
(2) Theoretical Approaches to Higher Education Admission Policy;
(3) Applicant Recruitment and Student Support Services in Higher Education; and
(4) Diversity and Equity in Higher Education Admission Policy Implementation.
This book's global chorus of professional experience, investigation, and insight is unprecedented in its breadth and depth, illuminating a rare swath of challenges and opportunities that Internet-sourced international higher education makes visible. Although each chapter is an independent research report, together they generate a new landscape for admission policy orientation, exploration, and activism. The sheer range of policies and organizational infrastructure will alert all readers to many complexities within the admissions process that remain invisible within single or multiple but similar cultural and political contexts.
Many of these authors have demonstrated courage along with their intellectual acumen in tackling politically sensitive, culturally taboo, and personally dangerous topics within their research. Theirs is a moving testimony to the global quest for fairness within the world of admission policy implementation and to the power of access to higher education. Together, we are determined to advance equitable admissions praxis within all institutions of higher learning and promising futures for all students.
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11 Applicant Evaluation as Admissions Practice: A Sociocognitive Framework of Faculty Judgment in American Doctoral Admissions

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CHAPTER 11

Applicant Evaluation as Admissions Practice

A Sociocognitive Framework of Faculty Judgment in American Doctoral Admissions

Julie R. Posselt

Introduction

Heightened competition for spaces in U.S. doctoral programs has created an admissions market wherein narrow margins of student quality determine who is ultimately admitted, rejected, and wait-listed (Frank & Cook, 1995, p. 3). But what do these quality margins consist of, and how do faculty1 determine them? Despite the question’s significance to admissions outcomes, research offers little in the way of answers.

Therefore, in this chapter I synthesize current theory and research to develop a framework for the study of faculty evaluation that can guide future inquiry. This framework emerged from a review of 209 books and articles from sociological and organizational theory as well as extant research on admissions and other types of selection in higher education. It portrays selection as an iterative process of commensuration and classification, two decision-making processes through which individuals make meaning of information to which they are exposed (Sokal, 1974). Through commensuration, faculty members transform various applicant qualities into common metrics on which all may be compared. Classification investigates the structure of and basis for categorization schemes, such as those that faculty use to distinguish applicants from one another and the ultimate categories of admitted, rejected, and wait-listed.

Seven Propositions for Empirical Research

Within classification theory, theories of taste (defined as culturally embedded patterns...

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