Answer to "How do you support faculty?"


Editor: Sylvia Heeneman


As described for the learners (question 8), faculty will also need support in a transition phase to programmatic assessment. The practice of programmatic assessment requires a change in (existing) epistemological beliefs and conceptions of assessment that may not be easy to accomplish when faculty has been embedded in and using traditional assessment practices for many years. For the implementation of programmatic assessment (question 13), the involvement of faculty, as a key stakeholder, is very important. A co-participation format involving faculty and learners in the design process will support a successful change, and create ownership by stakeholders. In addition, the co-participation process will create a teacher community that will promote a sustainable change.


Faculty working and teaching in a programmatic assessment curriculum also need continuing support. This can be in the format of fit-for-purpose, just in time, faculty development sessions e.g. on the provision of meaningful narrative feedback, or feedback that addresses areas of improvement (‘negative’ feedback). It is also effective to show or illustrate what happens to the feedback they provide, how is it used by the learner and how is it used by e.g. portfolio assessment committees or in high-stake decisions? A learner, that is willing to do so, may show parts of his/her portfolio or share the results of follow-up of feedback or the feedback dialogue. Similar to the implementation or co-participation phase, it is important to maintain faculty or teacher communities, for formal but also informal contacts that can support teachers, and enable professional development. For mentors (see question 8), there also needs to be a tailored faculty development program and networking meetings to create a mentor community. Finally, faculty need time to provide meaningful narrative feedback and consolidate a variety of assessment tasks.Effective feedback is a time and resource intensive process. What should be kept in mind in terms of the resources, are (1) that in programmatic assessment, assessment and learning are intertwined (assessment as learning), so the time for teaching and assessment overlaps. And (2), to make use of and apply the ‘less-is-more’ feedback principle (question 8). In addition, resource-saving procedures can be considered (e.g. peer feedback or an automatic online feedback system), but ultimately providing good quality feedback will cost time and effort.


For further reading:

  • Jamieson J, Jenkins G, Beatty S, Palermo C. Designing programmes of assessment: A participatory approach, Medical Teacher, 2017, 39:11, 1182-1188

  • O’Sullivan PS, Irby DM. Reframing research on faculty development. Acad Med. 2011;86: 421– 428

  • Steinert Y, Mann K, Anderson B, Barnett BM, Centeno A, Naismith L, Prideaux P, Spencer J, Tullo E, Viggiano T, Ward H, Dolmans D. A systematic review of faculty development initiatives designed to enhance teaching effectiveness: A 10-year update: BEME Guide No. 40, Medical Teacher, 2016, 38:8, 769-786