From Theory to Practice: Implementing Effective Assessment and Evaluation Strategies in Health Professions Education

Assessment and evaluation are critical components in the realm of health professions education, shaping the effectiveness of programs and the success of learners. Establishing best practices in these areas ensures consistency, reliability, and clarity in measuring competency and progression. 

Last week on the Holistic Success Show, we were honored to welcome Sylvia Mioduszewska, Senior Product Manager for One45 by Acuity Insights.

Sylvia and her team are deeply committed to enhancing assessment and evaluation methods in health professions education, which led them to develop a comprehensive best practices guide. This guide is designed to assist programs in navigating the complexities of these processes, providing valuable insights and strategies to improve educational outcomes.

Why create a best practices guide for assessment and evaluation?

The idea to create a best practices guide for assessment and evaluation stemmed from frequent requests for advice from various health professions programs. While Acuity Insights has always provided ad hoc advice, Sylvia and her colleague, Beth Legacy Cole, wanted to create a comprehensive resource that could be used by both programs and internal staff. This guide was designed to be software-agnostic, ensuring it can be used effectively regardless of the tools a program is using, whether paper-based or digital.

The guide also aims to help programs achieve their desired outcomes by providing a structured approach to assessment and evaluation. It serves as a valuable resource for those who are new to the field, as well as experienced professionals who may find new insights and strategies to improve their practices.

What are the common issues in assessment and evaluation?

One of the most common issues programs face is the lack of consistent and standardized Likert scales on assessment forms. Discrepancies in assessment data collection, such as different scales (e.g., 5-point vs. 7-point), can lead to data issues and hinder trainee progression. Even when scales appear similar, varying definitions can create confusion and inconsistency in evaluations.

For example, in some competency-based assessments, a 3 on a 5-point scale might indicate satisfactory competence, while in other systems, a 4 might be the threshold for passing. These differences can lead to misunderstandings and misaligned evaluations. Standardizing these scales and ensuring consistent definitions across forms is crucial for accurate assessment.

How can Competency-Based Education (CBE) be implemented effectively?

Implementing a competency-based framework can be complex, but it’s worth the effort. This approach not only provides deeper insights into learner progression, but also supports longitudinal reporting, which is critical for tracking development over time.

Standardizing assessment forms according to a competency-based framework helps ensure that all learners are evaluated consistently across the program. This consistency is vital for accurately measuring competence and performance. Additionally, it allows programs to make informed decisions about curriculum changes and understand the impact of these changes on learner outcomes.

How can the best practices guide be used to improve program practices?

The guide is designed to be a practical tool for improving assessment and evaluation practices. It can stimulate conversations within programs and help them identify areas for improvement. For programs with limited resources, the guide offers valuable insights that might otherwise be overlooked.

Even experienced professionals can benefit from the guide, discovering new strategies and perspectives to enhance their assessment practices. By providing a comprehensive overview of best practices, the guide helps create a community of practice around assessment and evaluation, sharing knowledge and experiences from various programs.

Download the Assessment and Evaluation Best Practices for Health Professions guide now!