Student Assessment


Key Points:

  • Competent means having the minimum knowledge and skills for a defined role. 
  • Competence means best applying knowledge and skills in each situation (mastery). This can take a lifetime to achieve.
  • Competency-based learning has the learner responsible for their education and assessment based on direct observation of an authentic task.
  • Assessment tools should be appropriate for the goal.
  • Each learner should have an assessment portfolio that contains qualitative and quantitative items obtained over time.  



  • Utilize an established framework to assess learner competence


Recommended Resources: 

Brief Review


Competency-Based Learning at WGU: What Is It? Western Governors University. 3 minutes.

Study suggests 140 colonoscopies don't equal competency. Mayo Clinic. 9 minutes.


Assessment in a Nutshell. Practical Doc.

Epstein RM. Assessment in medical education. N Engl J Med. 2007 Jan 25;356(4):387-96. Review. PubMed PMID: 17251535.

Carraccio C, Burke AE. Beyond competencies and milestones: adding meaning through context. J Grad Med Educ. 2010 Sep;2(3):419-22. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-10-00127.1. PubMed PMID: 21976092; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2951783.

Holmboe ES, Sherbino J, Long DM, Swing SR, Frank JR. The role of assessment in competency-based medical education. Med Teach. 2010;32(8):676-82. doi: 10.3109/0142159X.2010.500704. PubMed PMID: 20662580.

Weinberger SE, Pereira AG, Iobst WF, Mechaber AJ, Bronze MS; Alliance for Academic Internal Medicine Education Redesign Task Force II. Competency-based education and training in internal medicine. Ann Intern Med. 2010 Dec 7;153(11):751-6. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-153-11-201012070-00009. PubMed PMID: 21135298.

Epstein RM, Hundert EM. Defining and assessing professional competence. JAMA. 2002 Jan 9;287(2):226-35. Review. PubMed PMID: 11779266.


Principles of Medical Education: Maximizing Your Teaching Skills. Harvard School of Medicine, CME course given twice per year with additional advanced courses available. 

Appraisal. National Health Service. This module focuses on the general principles of appraisal, highlighting relevant aspects relating to how appraisal fits into improving patient care and supporting continuing professional development (CPD), as well as noting some of the specific tasks and activities relating to doctors’ appraisal. Doctors at all levels are appraised, including doctors in training, and appraisal skills are therefore fundamental to the process of educational supervision.


In-Depth Review


Testing and Evaluation Preparing Assessments and Evaluating Learning. ODU. 3 lectures. 1 hour and 18 minutes.

A Natural Fit? Overview of Competency-Based Education. New America. 26 minutes.

Competency-Based Medical Education: Focus on Undergraduate Medical Education. The Society of General Internal Medicine. 1 hour and 15 minutes.


NBME U. A collection of free courses on high quality learner assessment. National Board of Medical Examiners.

How to Assess Doctors and Health Professionals by Mike Davis, Judy McKimm, Kirsty Forrest. 2013. 158 pages. $43.95

Handbook on Medical Student Evaluation and Assessment. Alliance for Clinical Education (ACE). This book discusses all aspects of assessing learners, with well-referenced presentations starting from basic definitions, progressing through various assessment methods, and including reviews of the legal aspects of assessments. Print $39.95; Kindle e-book, $15.99


A Systems Approach to Assessment in Health Professions Education, Harvard Macy Institute, March 15-20, 2015.
During this 5 day intensive program, educators and administrators from diverse health science disciplines will be introduced to key concepts from system theory, best practices in educational assessment & mini-workshops focused on specific assessment approaches. Throughout the program, participants will also have an opportunity to apply systems principles in case discussions depicting problematic assessment situations and to plan an assessment/evaluation design to implement at their home institution.

Ogden P. Evaluating Medical Student and Resident Performance. MedEdPORTAL Publications; 2006. Interactive Tutorial for Faculty which describes defined standards for evaluation of medical student and residents. The program also covers evaluation in general with the importance of objective performance assessment, changing the faculty role from mentor to judge/diagnostician for evaluation, and several practice cases using the RIME system described by Pangaro, et al.

Foundations of Teaching for Learning 6: Introduction to Student Assessment. Coursera, Commonwealth Education Trust.

Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills. Coursera, University of Melbourne.

Performance Assessment in the Virtual Classroom. Coursera, University of California, Irvine.

Teaching and Assessing Clinical Skills. Coursera, University of Michigan.