MAMC Journal of Medical Sciences

: 2019  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 39--40

Rationale for Programmatic Assessment in Medical Education and Overcoming the Anticipated Challenges During Its Implementation

Saurabh R Shrivastava1, Prateek S Shrivastava2,  
1 Vice Principal Curriculum, Department of Community Medicine, Member of the Medical Education Unit and Institute Research Council, Pondicherry, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College & Research Institute, Kancheepuram, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Pondicherry, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Saurabh R Shrivastava
3rd floor, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College & Research Institute, Ammapettai, Kancheepuram, 603108, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Rationale for Programmatic Assessment in Medical Education and Overcoming the Anticipated Challenges During Its Implementation.MAMC J Med Sci 2019;5:39-40

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Rationale for Programmatic Assessment in Medical Education and Overcoming the Anticipated Challenges During Its Implementation. MAMC J Med Sci [serial online] 2019 [cited 2021 Apr 17 ];5:39-40
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Full Text

Dear Editor,

Assessment tools in the field of medical education have their own strengths and weaknesses, with varying degrees of validity and reliability affecting the decision-making process.[1] It is quite obvious that a solitary assessment or even multiple equivalent assessments will not provide the comprehensive picture about the performance of a student and thus a high-stakes decision.[2] Thus, it has been acknowledged that a combination of tools/methods should be employed in the process of assessment, so that shortcomings of one particular tool can be supplemented by the strengths of another.[1],[2]

In fact, the ideal approach will be to record the strengths and the areas in which improvement is required for a student after each assessment and not to check whether a student passed or not in each assessment.[2],[3] In that case, the teachers can focus more on the learning and its impact and not about making a decision after every assessment session.[3] In the process, the student can be given constructive feedback and guided to improve their areas of weakness.[2],[3] Moreover, the decision to pass or fail a student has to be deferred till the time adequate evidence from a wide range of assessment tools is available.[1],[3]

To clear all subjectivity and meet the desired goals of assessment, the approach of programmatic assessment is the need of the hour.[2],[3],[4] It overcomes almost all the limitations of the traditional systems of assessment and ensures that the decisions are made on the basis of comprehensive information and that the ultimate purpose of the assessment is to facilitate learning.[3],[4] It takes into account all the different assessments in the entire time frame longitudinally and does not overemphasizes the value of summative examinations.[3],[4]

The programmatic assessment gives sufficient time for the faculty members/students to take remedial actions and not wait till the time of high-stakes decision.[1],[2] Nevertheless, the process of implementation is quite tricky and often a resource-intensive program, requiring support from the dedicated faculty members.[3],[5] In other words, there are multiple challenges involved in the implementation and thus we have to be quite proactive and systematic to respond to them [[Table 1]].[2],[3],[4],[5] Most of the challenges can be effectively dealt through active and complete involvement of the faculty members.[1],[2]{Table 1}

In conclusion, the adoption of programmatic assessment will be the ultimate solution to overcome the shortcomings of the traditional assessments and thus more emphasis can be given to guide the students who need additional curricular support.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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2Singh T. Student assessment: moving over to programmatic assessment. Int J Appl Basic Med Res 2016;6:149-50.
3Bok HGJ, de Jong LH, O’Neill T, Maxey C, Hecker KG. Validity evidence for programmatic assessment in competency-based education. Perspect Med Educ 2018;7:362-72.
4van der Vleuten C, Lindemann I, Schmidt L. Programmatic assessment: the process, rationale and evidence for modern evaluation approaches in medical education. Med J Aust 2018;209:386-8.
5van der Vleuten CP, Heeneman S. On the issue of costs in programmatic assessment. Perspect Med Educ 2016;5:303-7.