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Advocating introduction of programmatic assessment in post graduation courses in India: A neglected dimension


1 Member of the Medical Education Unit and Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission27-Nov-2019
Date of Decision03-Apr-2020
Date of Acceptance25-Jun-2020

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava,
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) – Deemed to be University, Tiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District - 603108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/mjdrdypu.mjdrdypu_325_19

  Abstract 


Programmatic assessment has been advocated in the field of medical education as it advocates for the continuous collection and analysis of the findings of the formal assessments with a solitary intention to improve the learning and enable the teachers to take an evidence-based high-stakes decision. In most of the postgraduation courses, there are no exams in the 3 years duration of the course and finally, at the end of the course, a summative assessment is conducted, which defines the fate of the students. This is regardless of the fact of how a student has been professionally in the entire course period, and it is very much possible that a deserving candidate might not pass due to a wide range of factors related to students, examiners, and pattern of examination, etc. In conclusion, the introduction of programmatic assessment in postgraduate courses is the need of the hour to neutralize all the subjectivity and unorganized assessments which is prevailing at present. The concept of programmatic assessment can very much justify the process of certification of a student by ensuring that all the core competencies are acquired by the student.

Keywords: India, medical education, postgraduation courses, programmatic assessment



How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Advocating introduction of programmatic assessment in post graduation courses in India: A neglected dimension. Med J DY Patil Vidyapeeth [Epub ahead of print] [cited 2021 Apr 12]. Available from: https://www.mjdrdypv.org/preprintarticle.asp?id=310592




  Introduction Top


Programmatic assessment has been advocated in the field of medical education as it advocates for the continuous collection and analysis of the findings of the formal assessments and supplements the same with the results of informal assessments, with a solitary intention to improve the learning and enable the teachers to take an evidence-based high-stakes decision. In programmatic assessment, the primary focus is on ensuring learning, without giving undue importance to pass or fail decisions derived from the results of individual assessments.

This in principle differs from the traditional assessment, wherein only on the basis of the performance in summative assessments, a student is declared pass or fail without giving any importance to other domains of learning or competence level of the students.[1] Further, it is important to understand that programmatic assessment is not equivalent to a program meant for assessment.

Unique features of postgraduation courses assessment

As far as assessment in the undergraduation period is concerned, the results of internal assessments are considered before taking a high-stake decision, but the situation in postgraduation courses is quite variable.[2] In fact, in most of the postgraduation courses, there are no exams in the 3-year duration of the course and finally, at the end of the course, a summative assessment is conducted, which defines the fate of the students. This is regardless of the fact of how a student has been professionally in the entire course period, and it is very much possible that a deserving candidate might not pass due to a wide range of factors related to students, examiners, and pattern of examination, etc.[3]

In order to bridge the existing gaps and to ensure that postgraduates are assessed periodically about their learning and progression, both the constituent colleges of Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Puducherry, namely Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute and Mahatma Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute have implemented e-portfolios. These e-portfolios are being maintained by the individual postgraduates across all 3 years of their course and are being mentored by the faculty member. In addition, these e-portfolios are being periodically reviewed by the E-portfolio Committee (in Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute) and constructive comments are given for the improvement of the same and the need for all the postgraduates to reflect upon their learning.

In the postgraduation summative assessments, more emphasis is given toward knowledge, clinical examination skills, and interpretation of reports. It is quite obvious that in one exam alone, not all the complex skills or required competencies for the subject can be assessed, and thus the assessment of learning remains incomplete.[3],[4] Despite being not aware of the competence levels of the postgraduate degrees in most of the essential entrustable professional activities, the degree is awarded to the students. This mechanism even though being employed for many years in the postgraduation courses, but is not fullproof and has its own limitations.[4]

Need of programmatic assessment

All these limitations envisage for the introduction of the programmatic assessment even in the postgraduation courses, as it neutralizes all the existing limitations. In programmatic assessment, high-stakes decision (pass or fail) is never based on the outcome of a single assessment, instead, multiple assessments are encouraged across the entire course to understand the competence of a student as a whole, along with due important being given to informal assessments.[2],[3] The component of feedback becomes an integral aspect of the course and eventually, the process of assessment and certification of a student is made valid and reliable. Another fact which favors the introduction of programmatic assessment in postgraduate courses is the number of students, which is very much less than in undergraduation, and hence the process becomes quite feasible.[1],[2],[3],[4],[5]

Existing challenges

However, multiple challenges have been identified in the process of implementation of the same, including extensive planning, accountability and dedicated efforts from teachers, cooperation from administrators, delivery of feedback in a constructive manner, and competence level of teachers.[3],[4],[5] Most of these challenges can be neutralized by specifying the clear learning goals for the students at the end of the course, planning for the assessments, and spacing of assessments with an aim to keep them purposeful and cover all core competencies. In addition, the purpose of assessment has to be to enhance learning and not point faults in the students. Further, students can be motivated to record their reflections which will enhance the process of learning and mentoring also done as a part of the course.[2],[3],[4]


  Conclusion Top


The introduction of programmatic assessment in postgraduate courses is the need of the hour to neutralize all the subjectivity and unorganized assessments which is prevailing at present. The concept of programmatic assessment can very much justify the process of certification of a student by ensuring that all the core competencies are acquired by the student.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
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.  Back to cited text no. 1
  [Full text]  
2.
Cleveland LM, McCabe TM, Olimpo JT. A call for programmatic assessment of undergraduate students' conceptual understanding and higher-order cognitive skills. J Microbiol Biol Educ 2017;19:19.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Perry M, Linn A, Munzer BW, Hopson L, Amlong A, Cole M, et al. Programmatic assessment in emergency medicine: Implementation of best practices. J Grad Med Educ 2018;10:84-90.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Resorting to programmatic assessment in medical education system in India. Muller J Med Sci Res 2018;9:110-1.  Back to cited text no. 4
  [Full text]  
5.
van 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.  Back to cited text no. 5
    




 

 
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