Programmatic Assessment

The new programmatic assessment model is being designed to ensure students are proficient across diverse professional competencies, including each of the CanMEDS roles. The new assessment model will involve frequent lower-stakes assessments with feedback and individualized coaching designed to support learning.

Programmatic Assessment shifts the purpose of assessment program from assessment of learning to assessment for learning. It is a holistic approach to the design of assessment programs that is focused on identifying each individual student’s longitudinal competency development and learning outcomes through an entire education program — not just a single course or module. It is intended to optimize quality and the value of feedback to students, high-stakes decision-making (for example, promotion and remediation) and quality assurance with the curriculum. Assessment tools, methods and processes are planned, arranged and coordinated to give the school a comprehensive and holistic picture of learner progress. 

The following video provides the theory behind our new approach:

Why Programmatic Assessment now?

It is important to apply best practices to the design of assessment programs in the field of medical education. At the national level, the Medical Council Canada (MCC) and the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC) have been advocating moving towards Programmatic Assessment. Our counterparts, the University of British Columbia and Dalhousie University, have already adopted similar approaches in their undergraduate medical education curricula to assist in achieving their desired education outcomes. 

This comprehensive model of assessment offers multiple data points to support high-stakes decision-making and aligns with the approach of the new Foundation Curriculum.   

Faculty members can view detailed information about Programmatic Assessment on the Office of Faculty Development website.  

Realted links



Dannefer EF. Beyond assessment of learning toward assessment for learning: Educating tomorrow's physicians. Med Teach. 2013;35(7):560-563.

Olupeliyawa A, Balasooriya C. The impact of programmatic assessment on student learning: What can the students tell us? Med Educ. 2015;49(5):453-456.

Van der Vleuten CP, Cees P M., Schuwirth LW. Assessing professional competence: From methods to programmes. Med Educ. 2005;39(3):309-317.

Dijkstra J, Van der Vleuten CP, Schuwirth LW. A new framework for designing programmes of assessment. Adv in Health Sci Educ. 2010;15(3):379-393.

Van der Vleuten CP, Schuwirth LW, Driessen EW, Govaerts M, Heeneman S. 12 tips for programmatic assessment. Med Teach. 2015;37(7):641.

MCC Slideshare website. Accessed October 8, 2015.

UBC website. Accessed October 8, 2015.

FMEC MD 2015: Five Years of Innovations at Canadian Medical schools  

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