Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 67  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 4-5  

Blended programmatic assessment for competency-based curricula: Is it the way forward?

PB Iyer 
 Professor (Additional) of Anatomy, Seth G S Medical College & KEM Hospital, Acharya Donde Marg, Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
P B Iyer
Professor (Additional) of Anatomy, Seth G S Medical College & KEM Hospital, Acharya Donde Marg, Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra

How to cite this article:
Iyer P B. Blended programmatic assessment for competency-based curricula: Is it the way forward?.J Postgrad Med 2021;67:4-5

How to cite this URL:
Iyer P B. Blended programmatic assessment for competency-based curricula: Is it the way forward?. J Postgrad Med [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Aug 18 ];67:4-5
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Assessment refers to any formal or purported action to obtain information about the competence and performance of a student. It need not be limited to a few formal occasions. It also includes several activities used by teachers to collect information about students' competence.[1]

Many institutions across the globe are following competency-based curricula in which assessment principles are like those followed in the programmatic assessment. Programmatic assessment is a theoretical program or plan of assessment for the entire duration of a course thus promoting longitudinal development of the learner by establishing the formative, summative, and internal components of assessment before-hand, supplemented by continuous monitoring, feedback, and mentoring. In programmatic assessment, multiple low stakes assessment with high educational impact reduces the stress of learners by delinking decision making.[2] Thus, programmatic assessment is assessment for learning.[3]

Due to COVID-19 pandemic, medical schools across the world have been unable to conduct face to face teaching and assessment. Many institutions have explored various types of e-assessment strategies? during this period that were not utilized to their full potential. The question is whether we can be sure that the students have attained the desired level of competence through these online assessment strategies alone.[4] With online learning and assessment likely to continue even after the pandemic has subsided, there is a need to explore the balance between traditional assessment and online assessment. In this endeavor, the article by Mahajan et al.[5] in the current issue, under education forum, gives the readers a fair idea of blended programmatic assessment.

The authors have explained the need to prioritize basic principles of programmatic assessment, choice of online assessment methods, and their relevance to the curriculum while developing e-assessment strategies. They have emphasized the various common principles of competency-based assessment and programmatic assessment and explained the ways in which these can be incorporated in online assessment. The authors have convincingly described the practical considerations of online assessment. They have specified that it cannot be for the entire undergraduate curriculum; and online teaching must be conducted before assessment and must be aligned with competency objective and teaching-learning methods. They have also made the readers aware of the need to tap the use of self-directed learning, virtual classrooms, and skills labs for online assessment at institutional level. The authors have described the framework for blended programmatic assessment mentioning the cycle of learning, assessment, feedback, reflection, analysis and back to learning. It goes without saying that to assess various domains online, multimodal tools must be employed in formative and summative assessment. The authors have expressed that it is better to consider the utility of the entire blended programmatic assessment rather than individual components like online and traditional assessments. They have further elaborated on the concerns and challenges of using blended programmatic assessment. The online nature and technological aspects of such assessments can significantly impact the authenticity in comparison to other forms of paper-based assessment media.[6] The intellectual concern of utility of blended programmatic assessment can be addressed by having multiple online tests on multiple content areas by multiple examiners using multiple online tools in multiple settings. Secondly, legal, technical, and economic issues may impact blended programmatic assessment.[7] Further for implementation such a program, there is a need for faculty development and building capacity in teaching technology and information technology. To run a blended programmatic assessment ample resources may be required in the initial stages but with sustained efforts, it is likely to become cost-effective in the long run.

While assessment for learning is not a new concept, it has evolved considerably over years both in theory and practice. The authors have applied these principles to online learning and assessments. They have provided a basic framework explaining the newer concept of blended programmatic assessment. It really gives the readers a food for thought - is blended programmatic assessment the way forward for assessment?


1Singh T, Gupta P, Singh D, editors. Student assessment. In: Principles of Medical Education. 5th ed. New Delhi: Jaypee Brothers; 2021. p. 81-92.
2van der Vleuten CPM, Schuwirth LWT, Driessen EW, Govaerts MJB, Heeneman S. Twelve tips for programmatic assessment. Med Teach 2015;37:641-6.
3van der Vleuten CPM, Schuwirth LWT. Assessing professional competence: From methods to programs. Med Educ 2005;39:309-17.
4Bala L, van der Vleuten C, Freeman A, Torre D, Heeneman S, Sam AH. COVID-19 and programmatic assessment. Clin Teach 2020;17:420-2.
5Mahajan R, Saiyad S, Virk A, Joshi A, Singh T. Blended programmatic assessment for competency-based curricula. J Postgrad Med 2021;67:18-23.
6Sim G, Holifield P, Brown M. Implementation of computer assisted assessment: Lessons from the literature. ALT-J: Res Learn Technol 2004;12:215-29.
7Raaheim A, Mathiassen K, Moen V, Lona I, Gynnild V, Bunæs BR, et al. Digital assessment - how does it challenge local practices and national law? A Norwegian case study. Eur J High Educ 2019;9:219-31.

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