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Aug 22 2008

Domains of Learning and the MCAT-The Psychomotor Domain


Author: Dr. James L Flowers
Category: MCAT Prep Tips

The pertinent literature makes it clear the MCAT is pretty good at predicting early medical school success, only fair to poor at predicting late medical school success and virtually worthless in predicting success as a physician (Evolution of the MCAT, Validity of MCAT).

Beginning in the late 1940’s an extensive effort was undertaken to try   to classify education goals and objectives and how learning occurs. This effort resulted in three domains (or see domain details) of how students learn. How do these relate to the MCAT and the prediction of who will become a successful physician?

  Now, lets focus on the Psychomotor Domain.

The Psychomotor Domain involves the physical or kinesthetic component of learning. This domain includes physical movements, coordination of movements, and use of the motor-skill areas. This domain is only achieved through practice and is measured by parameters such as speed, precision, distance, procedures, or techniques in execution. Simpson proposed seven dimensions from the simple to the complex as:

1.  Perception (The use of sensations to determine actions. Begins with sensory stimulation, to selection of specific cues, to the translation of these stimuli);

2.  Set (Readiness to act mentally, physically, and emotionally. These predetermine a person’s response to situations (or mindsets));

3.  Guided Response(Earliest stage of trial and error learning. Only practice results in proficiency);

4.  Mechanism(Intermediate stage of motor actions becoming habitual with increasing confidence of performance);

5.  Complex Overt Response(The final stage of most proficient performance indicated by quickness, accuracy, high coordination of performance, with minimum of effort/energy and with automaticity.);

6.  Adaptation (Skills are well developed and the individual can modify movement patterns to adapt to special situations/circumstances);

7.  Origination (New movement patterns are created to fit special situations/circumstances.)

(Reference: Simpson E.J.(1972). The Classification of
Educational Objectives in the Psychomotor Domain. Washington, DC: Gryphon House.)

How do the learning domains relate to success as a physician and the role of the MCAT? See: MCAT Validity in Perspective

Refer To: Why MCAT Fails to Predict Physician Success, MCAT and Cognitive Domain, MCAT and Affective Domain