Evaluation of Student Achievement

[Originally approved by the Curriculum Committee, June 30, 1998; Revised 1/27/99, 12/11/02]

The goals of addressing student evaluation are threefold:

  • to measure a student’s academic achievement and competency development
  • to promote timely and specific feedback to students so that they can evaluate their progress
  • to identify students with academic problems in order to support and provide remediation as needed, to identify outstanding students and provide appropriate recognition.

These goals can be achieved successfully by accomplishing the following seven objectives. Such objectives are not totally new; some objectives were proposed in reports of past task forces of the curriculum committee. **

**Subcommittee on evaluation/competencies report, M. Duerson, chair, 9/7/94
Final report of the committee for review of student evaluation, O. Harris, chair, 4/87
Report of Task Force on Student Evaluation, M. Duerson, chair, 3/25/97
Revised Report of task force on student evaluation, M. Duerson, chair, 4/9/97
Subcommittee on competencies and evaluation, M. Duerson, chair, 10/1/93

Objective 1

Student evaluations must be based upon learning objectives that are competency-based and criterion-referenced when possible.

  1. Measurable, learning course/clerkship objectives must be given to students at the outset of each course/clerkship, and must relate to graduation competencies. The objectives will serve as explicit criteria to measure mastery of student’s knowledge, behaviors and skills.
  2. Faculty development will be provided selectively to assist faculty in writing measurable learning objectives and to encourage faculty to use innovative criterion-referenced methods of assessment.

Objective 2

Performanced-based assessment should be a component of all course and clerkship evaluation plans.

  1. Examinations must be based upon measurable learning objectives.
  2. The use of performance-based formats, other than multiple choice questions (MCQs) must be increased. Use of performance-based evaluations is strongly encouraged in all courses, but is required in all clerkships.
    • observed performances, e.g., observations of patient interaction in the clinical setting or PBEs
    • small group learning activities
    • oral, practical or essay examinations
    • student thesis
  3. Faculty development will be provided selectively to faculty to use innovative methods in assessment.

Objective 3

Formative evaluations and feedback must be incorporated into the evaluation process.

  1. Written competency-based formative feedback must be given to a student by course faculty at least once during the course or clerkship. Ideally this should be accomplished mid-way or earlier during accrues/clerkship.
  2. The inclusion of student self-assessment is strongly encouraged during the formative feedback process.
  3. Faculty development will be provided selectively to enhance the faculty’s ability to provide effective feedback.

Objective 4

Summative evaluations of students’ learning must be based upon competency-based objectives.

    1. There will be two summative feedback systems utilized for evaluation of medical students:
        1. a. Course and Clerkship Evaluations: Students level of competencies will be evaluated for each course and clerkship.
        b. Performance-Based Examinations Series (PBE): Four PBEs (I-IV) will be administered during the four years of medical curriculum to assess the progress of students development.
      1. PBEs will be criterion-referenced for judging the standard of performance.
      2. Students not meeting standards will be required to remediate.
      3. PBE remediation will be competency specific and based on predetermined criteria.
      4. Students’ Competency Profiles will be maintained in the students’ academic records.
PBE 1 PBE 2 PBE 3A PBE 3B
Diagnostic Skills Diagnostic Skills Diagnostic Skills Diagnostic Skills
History History History History
Communication Communication Communication Communication
Professionalism Professionalism Professionalism Professionalism
    Problem-solving  
  1. Faculty development will be provided selectively to faculty to use a variety of summative evaluation techniques.

Objective 5

Evaluation by individuals, other than teaching faculty [e.g., students (self and peer), patients, nurses], when possible, must be incorporated into the evaluation process.

  1. Self-assessment: Students are encouraged to utilize a self-assessment in monitoring their progress. Student self-assessment should be encouraged by faculty teaching specific courses/clerkships. A journal may serve as a means for students to document their assessment of learning.
  2. Peer assessment: Evaluation by peers should be included in the evaluation process when possible.
  3. Patient assessment: Evaluations of students by patients (standardized or actual) should be incorporated in assessing students. The use of standardized patients will decrease variability and increase reliability. In some circumstances, standardized patients should be introduced into clinical settings without the students’ knowledge.
  4. Other health care professionals assessment: Evaluations by individuals of the health care team should be considered in determining the competency of a student.

Objective 6

Assessment of professional behavior and human relationship competencies must be incorporated in the evaluation process for all clerkships, and is strongly encouraged in preclinical courses.

    Evaluation of students’ professional behavior and human relationship competencies must be conducted during all clerkships, and is strongly encouraged for basic science courses.

Objective 7

A uniform competency-based evaluation system must be established.

  1. A standard student evaluation will be created for all first and second year courses, required clerkships, and electives that have common performance criteria to assess student achievement of competencies.
  2. Course and Clerkship Directors must identify levels of competency upon which formative and summative evaluations are based, and identify minimal standards for satisfactory performance.
  3. The evaluation of competencies will be reported on a four-interval (descriptive scale)* evaluation system. This scale will provide formative and summative feedback and assessment on evaluation of clinical skills and application of scientific knowledge.
  4. An electronic database will be created to track student competency development through all four years of the curriculum.

*The recommended descriptive labeling system is based upon the following select references:
*1. Downing, S. Improving Measures of Student Performance, Acad Med 65(9):S57-58, 1990.
2. Magarian, GJ, Majur, DJ. A National Survey of Grading Systems Used in Medicine Clerkships, Acad Med 65:636-639, 1990.
3. McLeod, PJ. So Few Medical Schools, So Many Clerk Rating Systems! Can Med Assoc J 146(12):21612-2164, 1992.