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.

2. 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.

3. Conflict of Interest by Evaluators – Sensitive Medical and Counseling Care of Students
EPC policy (passed 2012): 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)

4.  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 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.

5.  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 quality. 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).

6.  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 committee.
  • 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 allowed.
  • All clinical grades must be Expected Performance or above to graduate.
  • 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 guidelines.

7.  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:

  • 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.

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).

8. Advanced Studies Elective Evaluations
For all electives on a student’s schedule within the UMass system: The Registrar’s Office will automatically send an evaluation form [electronically] to the Elective Coordinator for completion.  The evaluation will be emailed midway through the elective.

For all electives on a student’s schedule outside the UMass system (External Electives): Students must follow the policies and rules of the Host School with regard to elective evaluations.  Some Host School’s utilize their own elective evaluation forms and will submit their evaluation form to the UMMS Registrar’s Office.  In all other cases, the UMMS Registrar’s Office will email an evaluation form to the student. It is the student’s responsibility to give this Evaluation Form to the elective coordinator for completion by the supervising faculty for the elective.

For all international electives, students receive an evaluation form electronically from the Office of the Registrar in advance of the elective. It is the responsibility of the student to give the evaluation form to the elective coordinator, and to return the completed evaluation to the UMMS Office of Undergraduate Medical Education upon their return to UMMS.

B. Timing of Evaluations
Final grades for students in all pre-clerkship courses should be presented to the Office of Institutional Research Evaluation and Assessment 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 to the Registrar’s Office.

Final grades and narrative summaries for clerkship courses should be presented to the registrar and the Associate Dean for Student Affairs 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 which 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 Sciences Academic Evaluation Board and a Clinical Sciences 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, to consider any extenuating circumstances which may have contributed to academic performance, 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.

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.