Evaluation of Students

A. Principles of Evaluation

  1. Purpose of Evaluations

Evaluations are meant to provide both students and faculty with accurate appraisals of the students’ learning of the subject matter. They are to be used by the Academic Evaluation Boards in making decisions about academic advancement, remediation, or dismissal, and they provide the Associate Dean for Student Affairs with meaningful information for use in the writing of the Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE). The student’s mentor of record will also receive a copy of the mentee’s grades and evaluations.

  1. Principles Underlying Evaluations

UMMS does not rank students within their class and therefore requires that evaluations of performance be based on criteria of competence, rather than on predetermined statistical curves. Thus, the evaluation system is designed to promote a spirit of cooperation and to eliminate unhealthy competition between students.

  1. Conflict of Interest by Evaluators – Sensitive Medical and Counseling Care of Students

EPC policy: In order to ensure that there is no conflict of interest between the roles of faculty and resident physicians functioning as physicians or therapists and the roles of faculty and resident physicians in academic evaluation and promotion, the designated director of a course or health delivery service is responsible for a plan to ensure that health professionals who provide psychiatric/psychological counseling or other sensitive health services to a medical student must have no involvement in the academic assessment or promotion of the medical student receiving those services.

Definition: Sensitive medical care: Because any medical care may become sensitive, "sensitive medical care" is considered to be any medical care.

Exemptions: Emergency situations or other situations in which lack of involvement by physicians, residents or other healthcare professionals would compromise patient care are exempted from the above policy.

Enforcement: Under the leadership of the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, oversight for this policy will rest with the Office of Student Affairs.

To view the entire policy on Sensitive Medical and Counseling Care of Students see the Student Health section. (Approved by EPC 02/06/12)

  1. Pre-Clerkship Evaluations

Performance ratings in pre-clinical courses are usually based on results of written or oral examinations, papers or other written assignments. Narrative evaluations may also be prepared to provide information which is not obtainable through the examination process or not apparent in the performance ratings, and which may be pertinent to the student’s overall record. This information is helpful in assisting the Basic Science Academic Evaluation Board, in providing the student with a more comprehensive assessment of his/her strengths and weaknesses, and in aiding in the preparation of the Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE). Examples of themes which appear in the narrative comments are: progress in learning the subject matter, the nature of extenuating circumstances which might have influenced performance, and the pursuit of independent research or projects.

  1. Pre-Clerkship Performance Ratings

It is the responsibility of each course coordinator to distribute to each student on or about its first day of classes a syllabus which contains a description of the evaluation tools and procedures to be used. This is to include the relative weight of each examination and a statement defining the levels of proficiency required to attain each of the ratings. Ratings which are used by UMMS courses include:

  • CREDIT – PASS - Indicative of totally acceptable and competent work;
  • CREDIT MARGINAL - LOW PASS - Work of uneven or consistently borderline This grade appears on the transcript as “Credit” however a student is allowed to carry only one such grade into the clerkship years. Any additional credit/marginal course grades must be remediated.
  • NO CREDIT* - Work of unacceptably low quality; failure to submit required work will result in a No Credit grade for the course unless the student receives an approved extension.
  • INCOMPLETE - A temporary designation indicating that a final rating is not yet available although the course has ended. This rating is used at the discretion of the course director with review by the Basic Science Academic Evaluation Board (BSAEB) if necessary, such as in cases where the course work is “Incomplete” due to physician-certified illness, death in the immediate family, or a reason of comparable magnitude. If an “Incomplete” grade is granted, the “Incomplete” work must be made up in the time frame specified by the course coordinator. If no time frame is specified, the work must be made up in a prompt and orderly fashion within one year. Extensions to this one-year limit may be granted by the course coordinator with the approval of the Basic Science Academic Evaluation Board. If a student is carrying two or more grades of Incomplete, the student’s academic record will be reviewed by the Basic Science Academic Evaluation Board.
  • HONORS - Prior to academic year 2010/11, a grade of Honors was indicative of exceptional and clearly outstanding performance. Please note that this grade was discontinued with the LInC curriculum.

An asterisk (*) accompanying any grade indicates that this rating has resulted from a single attempt to remediate an initial course rating of NC (No Credit) or F (Failing).

  1. Clerkship Evaluations/Assessments

Students doing clerkship rotations shall be evaluated as objectively as possible for competence in each of the following three areas:

Knowledge - This may be assessed through written examinations, through evaluation of clinical performance with regard to the ability to apply and integrate facts, and through evaluation of the ability to discuss and relate facts about particular cases in the setting of conferences and rounds.

Skills - This refers to the student’s capacity to function effectively in areas such as clinical decision-making, physician-patient relationship, the carrying out of procedures, and formulation of various diagnostic and therapeutic courses of action.

Attitudes - Students are also judged as to their overall maturity, their professionalism, their ability to relate to staff and patients, and their ability to adapt to the pressures and responsibilities of medical practice.

Additional Guidelines for Clerkship Evaluations

Each clinical discipline is expected to define the relative importance of the various measures used to assess knowledge, skills and attitudes as well as to define the nature of the procedures to be used in arriving at final performance ratings. This is to be described in writing to the students at the beginning of the rotation. While each discipline is allowed flexibility in evaluating students, based upon the uniqueness of that specialty, the following guidelines are to be used:

  • A poor initial performance on a single written final examination should not, in and of itself, result in a rating of “Fail.”  Assuming that other areas of performance are deemed satisfactory, an “Incomplete” is to be assigned until the student has the opportunity of retaking the test.
  • A second poor performance on a written examination or an initial poor performance on more than one clerkship component may result in a grade of “Incomplete,” “Below Expected Performance,” or “Fail” at the discretion of the clerkship director or grading (note that the grade of “Below Expected Performance” was removed from the grading schema beginning with clinical evaluations in the 18-19 academic year, as approved by the Educational Policy Committee on April 2, 2018)

  • If a student fails to pass an exam or course component after two attempts, the course director may require additional tutorial or clinical work, may change the format of the exam, or may require partial or complete course repeat. Only one attempt to pass a course by course repeat is The grade recorded will be “Fail” until the student successfully passes each component. Thereafter the “Fail” will be replaced by the final grade earned for the clerkship, with a designation on the transcript that the course was remediated through additional coursework.

  • All clinical grades must be at least “Expected Performance” or “Pass” to (note that the grade of “Expected Performance” was removed from the grading schema beginning with clinical evaluations in the 18-19 academic year, as approved by the Educational Policy Committee on April 2, 2018)

  • If a student has accumulated two or more “Incomplete” grades, the Clinical Science Academic Evaluation Board may vote to require the student to stop progress until one or more grades is remediated or to take other actions.

  • Students with a particular handicap or learning disability shall be afforded every reasonable means of meeting the specific requirements of any course according to ADA Students requesting ADA accommodations must make the request through the ADA Accommodations process, as outlined at the following link: https://www.umassmed.edu/ada/

The information regarding ADA Accommodations requests can also be found on the Office of Student Affairs website under the “How do I?” tab.

  1. Clerkship Performance Ratings/Final Grades

It is the responsibility of each course coordinator to distribute to each student on or about the first day of classes a syllabus which contains a description of the evaluation tools and procedures to be used. This is to include the relative weight of each examination and a statement defining the levels of proficiency required to attain each of the ratings/grades.

Ratings/grades used by UMMS courses include:

Clinical grading schema up to and including the 17-18 academic year:

  • OUTSTANDING - Indicative of exceptional and clearly outstanding performance
  • ABOVE EXPECTED PERFORMANCE - Meets most, but not all, requirements for “Outstanding”
  • EXPECTED PERFORMANCE - Indicative of totally acceptable and competent work
  • BELOW EXPECTED PERFORMANCE - Work of uneven or consistently borderline quality, less than “Expected Performance,” but possibly remediable through additional work or re-examination. Any grades of “Below Expected Performance” or “Fail” in a Core Clerkship must be remediated to at least an “Expected Performance” to fulfill graduation requirements. The remediation of one or more clerkships may be required prior to taking fourth-year electives
  • FAIL* - Unacceptable work of low quality
  • INCOMPLETE - A temporary designation indicating that a final rating is not yet available although the course has ended. This rating is used at the discretion of the course director with review by the Clinical Science Academic Evaluation Board (CSAEB) if necessary, such as in cases where the course work is incomplete due to physician certified illness, death in the immediate family, or a reason of comparable magnitude. Requests for a temporary grade of “Incomplete” must be made to the course coordinator prior to the end date of the clerkship or elective. If an “Incomplete” grade is granted, the incomplete work must be made up in the time frame specified by the course coordinator. If no time frame is specified, the work must be made up in a prompt and orderly fashion within one year. Extensions to this one-year limit may be granted by the course coordinator with the approval of the Clinical Science Academic Evaluation Board. If a student is carrying two or more grades of “Incomplete”, the student’s academic record will be reviewed by the Clinical Science Academic Evaluation Board.

Clinical grading beginning with the 18-19 academic year:

  • HIGH HONORS - Indicative of exceptional and clearly outstanding performance
  • HONORS - Meets most, but not all, requirements for “High Honors”
  • PASS - Indicative of totally acceptable and competent work
  • FAIL* - Unacceptable work of low Any grade of “Fail” in a Core Clerkship must be remediated to at least a “PASS” to fulfill graduation requirements for the CCE year and to advance to the Advanced Studies year. Remediation may include repetition of clerkship clinical time and a Clinical Skills Elective through the Center for Academic Achievement.
  • INCOMPLETE - A temporary designation indicating that a final rating is not yet available although the course has ended. This rating is used at the discretion of the course director with review by the Clinical Science Academic Evaluation Board (CSAEB) if necessary, such as in cases where the course work is incomplete due to physician certified illness, death in the immediate family, or a reason of comparable magnitude. Requests for a temporary grade of “Incomplete” must be made to the course coordinator prior to the end date of the clerkship or elective. If an “Incomplete” grade is granted, the incomplete work must be made up in the time frame specified by the course coordinator. If no time frame is specified, the work must be made up in a prompt and orderly fashion within one year. Extensions to this one-year limit may be granted by the course coordinator with the approval of the Clinical Science Academic Evaluation Board. If a student is carrying two or more grades of “Incomplete”, the student’s academic record will be reviewed by the Clinical Science Academic Evaluation Board.

An asterisk (*) accompanying any grade on a student’s transcript indicates that this rating has resulted from a single attempt to remediate an initial course rating of NC (No Credit) or F (Failing).

  1. Advanced Studies Elective Evaluations

Internal Evaluations: For all electives on a student’s schedule within the UMass system, the Elective coordinator will log into Oasis to complete the student evaluation.

External Evaluations: For all electives on a student's schedule outside the UMass system (External Electives):  It is the student’s responsibility to provide an email for the faculty completing the Oasis evaluation when completing the Away Elective Approval Form. Oasis will generate an email with a link to the student evaluation to be sent the week before the elective ends.

International Evaluations: For all international electives, It is the student’s responsibility to provide an email for the faculty completing the Oasis evaluation when completing the IMEP-GHP application. Oasis will generate an email with a link to the student evaluation to be sent the week before the elective ends.

B. Timing of Evaluations

Final grades for students in pre-clerkship courses where co-course leaders utilize the services of the Office of Institutional Research Evaluation and Assessment should be presented in a timely fashion, usually no later than 15 working days, following the final meeting or the final examination of a given course. IREA will then process and submit an electronic grades roster via a PeopleSoft Campus Solution (PSCS) gradebook upload to the Registrar’s Office.

Final grades and narrative summaries for clerkship courses should be submitted through OASIS in a timely fashion, no later than six weeks following the completion of the clerkship or elective.

Make-ups of exams, papers, reports and/or other course activities that have been missed because of physician-certified illness, death in the immediate family, or other reason of comparable magnitude may occur within the time period of the course or following the course, as decided by the course coordinator. If, by pre-arranged agreement of the course/clerkship coordinator and the student, the make-up is not completed before the date for submission of performance ratings, then an “Incomplete” rating will be submitted. If an “Incomplete” grade is granted, the incomplete work must be made up in the time frame specified by the course coordinator. If no time frame is specified, the work must be made up in a prompt and orderly fashion within one year. If a student is carrying two or more grades of “Incomplete”, the student’s academic record will be reviewed by the appropriate Academic Evaluation Board. All pre-clerkship work must be successfully completed prior to beginning the first clerkship.

C. Review of Evaluation Criteria

The appropriate curriculum committee will periodically review written criteria for assigning final grades in each course. The intent of this requirement is to ensure that each course has well established, written criteria which are distributed to the student at the beginning of each course.

D. Academic Evaluation Boards/Review of Academic Records

Students’ academic records are monitored by two Academic Evaluation Boards, a Basic Science Academic Evaluation Board and a Clinical Science Academic Evaluation Board. Each Board includes the coordinators of each course as well as ex-officio members. It is each Board’s responsibility to periodically review student academic records, to recommend students to the Progress Board for academic advancement, remediation or dismissal for failure to progress academically. The Progress Board will consider any extenuating circumstances which may have contributed to academic performance deficits and to determine the nature and process of academic make-up and remediation, if possible, for students who have not satisfactorily completed all academic requirements.

Additionally, the Academic Evaluation Boards may refer a student to an Honor Board for individual or repeated lapses in professionalism, through the filing of a professionalism report detailing the professionalism issue. The full Honor Code and Honor Board process may be found in the Student Handbook.

E. Learning Communities Mentors

A copy of the student’s academic record and of any pertinent letters or emails are also sent to the student’s Learning Communities Mentor. The Learning Communities Mentor does not take part in promotion decisions except at the student’s request, as an advocate. Records are sent to the student’s Learning Communities Mentor so that the Mentor may provide maximum help and consultation to the Mentee.