Leveraging non-cognitive testing to predict success at USMC Scout Sniper Course
Jaunal, Gregory R.
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Historically, about 55 percent of those enrolled at the Marine Corps Scout Sniper Course fail. Each failure costs the Marine Corps time and money. Additionally, each drop from the course requires screening and preparing another Marine to attend a future course. We develop statistical models to determine the most significant characteristics contributing to success at scout sniper school. We use data from 2012 through 2016 containing more than 700 Marines from every infantry military occupational specialty (MOS) to build multivariate probit models to determine which observable traits best predict success. In addition, we analyze 48 students' responses to the Grit Scale and a Big Five personality questionnaire to identify the most influential noncognitive traits that lead to successfully completing the course. We discover that significant relationships exist between military performance and graduation. Statistically significant predictor variables include rifle score, average proficiency and conduct marks, physical fitness score, the count of pull-ups on the USMC Initial Strength Test, and the Armed Services Vocational Battery subtests scores for Auto Shop and General Science. We also find the noncognitive traits of grit, extroversion, conscientiousness, and neuroticism display statistical significance. We recommend the Marine Corps develop and standardize noncognitive measures to facilitate job matching, such as in the preselection of the most suitable scout sniper candidates.
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