In compliance with the recommendation for yearly alcohol screening for adults in primary care, a family medicine residency director wants to develop a curriculum to teach her residents how to use a validated alcohol-screening tool and provide brief alcohol counseling. Given competing educational demands, she wants this curriculum to be both efficient and effective. She plans to evaluate her residents and the curriculum… .
Health professional training programs are increasingly focused on assessing clinical competencies that demonstrate a learner’s readiness for (or progression toward) independent practice. Training programs must track a multitude of competencies or “entrustable professional activities” (EPA’s) that often include both concrete observable procedures and more nuanced but essential “doctoring” skills, such as empathy, cultural sensitivity, and professionalism. Although the general principles of learner and curricular assessment hold equally true for the behavioral and social sciences (BSS), these content areas can be more difficult to operationalize and evaluate. Moreover, high-quality BSS teaching and assessment tools often require explicit, robust institutional support that relies on careful programmatic evaluations that align with institutional goals, learning activities, and curricular performance. Although evaluations assess a learner and/or program, the results should also iteratively drive curricular and institutional evolution toward improvements often related to new or updated educational and clinical care features.
This chapter provides guidance on designing evaluation and assessment strategies for both health professional learners and curricular programs with an eye toward continuous improvement. In the section “Assessment & Evaluation Planning,” we outline how to plan assessments including evaluation processes, methods, and tools for evaluation program design. In the section “Learner Assessment & Evaluation,” we describe assessment methods and instrumentation that can ensure learners have the skills needed to address behavioral and social issues that influence health. In the section “Program Evaluation,” we address how measurements can be used to assess curricular and program performance. Lastly, in the section “Educational Research & Scholarship,” we underscore the importance of educational research and dissemination of best practices as a means to move the science of education and educational evaluation forward.
Fundamental principles have influenced the content of each section. First, evaluation is as important as the training curricula delivered. Evaluations should not be undertaken as an afterthought after the curriculum has already been delivered. Second, just as we urge our learners to practice evidence-based medicine, we urge educators to practice evidence-guided learning. Although educational science is young, there is a growing body of research to guide selection of educational interventions, curricular timing and “dose,” and the choice of valid and reliable assessment tools. Educational tradition and convenience are not sufficient to guide efficient and effective uses of precious curricular hours. Finally, we assert that rigorously developed, delivered, and evaluated curricula should be published and shared as scholarly peer-reviewed works to advance both educators’ skills and the science of learning.
ASSESSMENT & EVALUATION PLANNING
Evaluation designs are critical ...