3.11 Center for Evaluation

Office of the Registrar

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3.11 Center for Evaluation

The Center for Evaluation oversees all student, course, and program evaluation in the Program in Medical Education. Oversight falls into four major areas:

Student assessment

The Center provides guidance and expertise to faculty who wish to develop examinations and integrative exercises to assess student performance in courses and clerkships (See Sections 1.04 and 2.03 for more information on student assessment in the MD program). The Center also oversees two centrally administered Objective Structured Clinical Exams (OSCEs):  the New Pathway Patient-Doctor II and HST Introduction to Clinical Medicine OSCEs in Year II, and the 4th-Year Comprehensive Exam at the end of Year III. Passing the latter is a graduation requirement for all HMS students.

Student evaluation of educational experiences

The Center oversees the administration and collection of anonymous student evaluations of core courses, clerkships, and faculty. Student evaluation of core courses and clerkships is mandatory. Each student is required to complete an evaluation at the end of each core educational experience and will not receive his/her grade for that course until a completed evaluation has been submitted. The Center for Evaluation collects, summarizes, and analyzes these data to create an Annual Report of students’ evaluations of preclinical courses and the Guide to the Clerkships. These reports provide PME and course and clerkship leadership with information that is the basis of ongoing quality improvement, and the Guide to the Clerkships provides students with information about PCE sites.

The School’s course/clerkship survey policy is designed to maximize student participation and candor while providing course/clerkship directors and teaching faculty with timely survey results. In order to protect student confidentiality and ensure the integrity of the survey process, results are not released to course/clerkship faculty until the students’ final grades have been submitted to the Registrar’s Office. The feedback students provide to course/clerkship directors and faculty should be written respectfully and in the context of professional behavior. It should be aimed at providing thoughtful, candid feedback directed at the improvement of performance in the same manner that students expect from faculty about their own performance, and it should avoid offensive or abusive language.

Course and Clerkship Directors, PME leadership, and individual teachers take students’ constructive comments very seriously; they help us mold and improve courses from year to year, and they help individual faculty hone their teaching skills. In conjunction with the Academy Center for Teaching and Learning, tutors who receive high ratings from students are recognized for their excellent teaching with a certificate and a letter from the Dean for Medical Education, which is also copied to the faculty member’s department chair. This recognition means a great deal to faculty, who include these citations on their CVs.

Course instructor evaluations are released to the course/clerkship director following the posting of student grades by the Registrar's office. The course director is permitted 30 days to review and edit the evaluations before they are automatically released to faculty. The course director cannot change the text of comments. Editing is limited solely to ‘hiding’ comments deemed personally offensive and inappropriate; otherwise, evaluations cannot be altered by the course director. Following the course director’s review, the evaluations are immediately released to faculty. Department chairs are also given access to the evaluations of faculty holding appointments in their department 30 days following their release to the faculty member.

NB: All course instructor surveys posted to MyCourses--including unofficial surveys posted by individuals at local sites--are automatically released to faculty 30 days following the posting of student grades by the Registrar’s Office, whether or not they have been reviewed by the course or clerkship director.

Unprofessional Student Comments in Course/Clerkship Surveys

In certain rare cases, comments from students in course or clerkship surveys cross a clear line from critical to offensive, while possessing no redeeming constructive value. Because these comments are made available to the individual faculty member as well as a number of educational professionals at HMS, including the chair of the instructor’s appointing department, unprofessional comments have the potential to inflict real harm on an individual faculty member, which violates a key tenet of the medical profession.

For this reason, the Curriculum Committee voted to establish a process that ensures the continued integrity and confidentiality of the course survey process while providing an outlet to address the rare abuses that occur within the system.

In order to achieve this goal, a joint ad hoc committee comprised of three students and two academic society masters will be established to review any comment on a course/clerkship survey deemed to be unprofessional by a course/clerkship director, instructor, or official in the Center for Evaluation. To ensure that students on the ad hoc committee represent the will of the student body, student members will be either elected student representatives to the Curriculum Committee or Cabinet or other students who hold elective office, e.g., the Student Council Executive Committee. If a majority of the ad hoc committee agrees that the comment does indeed constitute unprofessional conduct, the Center for Evaluation will authorize the HMS Information Technology department to override the confidentiality protections and identify the responsible student. This information will be provided exclusively to the student’s Society Master, who will determine the remediation approach most helpful to the student. The comment will also be redacted from the course survey record.See also Section 4, Student Conduct and Responsibility, and specifically Section 4.08.

Program evaluation

In addition to student evaluation of courses and clerkships, the Center for Evaluation conducts longitudinal evaluation of the medical curriculum and various school-wide pilot programs. The Center also engages in evaluation research linking student performance and outcomes and conducts surveys to determine the satisfaction of residency program directors with the competence of our graduates. For more details about program evaluation at HMS and the role of students in program evaluation, see Section 7.05.

Medical education research

The Center works with students, residents, and fellows who wish to develop and practice skills in assessment and evaluation and collaborates with faculty and students who desire to engage in evaluation and educational research. The Center is also engaged in scholarship that contributes to the empirical and conceptual literature in evaluation and assessment.

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