Translating Theory Into Practice: Implementing a Program of Assessment

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Abstract

Problem

A program of assessment addresses challenges in learner assessment using a centrally planned, coordinated approach that emphasizes assessment for learning. This report describes the steps taken to implement a program of assessment framework within a medical school.

Approach

A literature review on best practices in assessment highlighted six principles that guided implementation of the program of assessment in 2016–2017: (1) a centrally coordinated plan for assessment aligns with and supports a curricular vision; (2) multiple assessment tools used longitudinally generate multiple data points; (3) learners require ready access to information-rich feedback to promote reflection and informed self-assessment; (4) mentoring is essential to facilitate effective data use for reflection and learning planning; (5) the program of assessment fosters self-regulated learning behaviors; and (6) expert groups make summative decisions about grades and readiness for advancement. Implementation incorporated stakeholder engagement, use of multiple assessment tools, design of a coaching program, and creation of a learner performance dashboard.

Outcomes

The assessment team monitors adherence to principles defining the program of assessment and gathers and responds to regular feedback from key stakeholders, including faculty, staff, and students.

Next Steps

Next steps include systematically collecting evidence for validity of individual assessments and the program overall. Iterative review of student performance data informs curricular improvements. The program of assessment also highlights technology needs that will be addressed with information technology experts. The outcome ultimately will entail showing evidence of validity that the program produces physicians who engage in lifelong learning and provide high-quality patient care.

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