A Systems Approach to Assessment in Health Professions Education

Offered Annually in Boston, MA

Next Course:
March 17 - 22, 2019

Course Brochure: course brochure PDF

November 16, 2018


2019 Application available soon

Program Directors:

Thomas Aretz, MD
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Elizabeth Armstrong, PhD
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Constance Bowe, MD
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Louis Pangaro, MD

Course Description

The Harvard Macy Institute’s A Systems Approach to Assessment in Health Professions Education is designed to encourage participants to apply systems thinking in designing assessment programs to support the continuous quality improvement of students/trainees, faculty, and curricula at their academic health science institutions. The program incorporates multiple pedagogical methods, including interactive presentations, case discussions, small group journal clubs, institutional planning groups, selectives (focused mini-sessions/workshops on assessment tools and approaches), and consultations with faculty experts. During this intensive 6-day program, educators and administrators from diverse health science disciplines will be introduced to key concepts from system theory, best practices in educational assessment, and mini-workshops focused on specific assessment approaches. Throughout the program, participants will also have an opportunity to apply systems principles in case discussions depicting problematic assessment situations and to plan an assessment/evaluation design to implement at their home institution.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Assess the educational components of participants home institution from a systems perspective
  • Identify the primary functions of individual educational components of their (sub) system
  • Identify the essential processes that need to occur at the interfaces between/among components within the educational system to add value to the quality of graduates
  • Outline the communications pathways that currently exist within the educational (sub) system
  • Examine the quality of participants institution's communication pathways, specifically for 1) the flow of multiple sources of performance data to individuals/groups (hubs) best positioned to interpret assessment information in context and 2) the existence of direct feedback pathways to individuals/groups empowered to make corrections and adjustments
  • Design and implement a comprehensive systems-based assessment program to evaluate learner institution's performance in promoting a primary educational goal



The Harvard Medical School is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The Harvard Medical School designates this live activity for a maximum of 35.75 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada recognizes conferences and workshops held outside of Canada that are developed by a university, academy, hospital, specialty society or college as accredited group learning activities. Through an agreement between the American Medical Association and the European Union of Medical Specialists, physicians may convert AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ to an equivalent number of European CME Credits® (ECMECs®).

Harvard Medical School (HMS) adheres to all ACCME Accreditation Criteria and Policies. It is HMS’s policy that those who have influenced the content of a CME activity (e.g., planners, faculty, authors, reviewers, and others) disclose all relevant financial relationships with commercial entities so that HMS may identify and resolve any conflicts of interest prior to the activity. These disclosures will be provided in the activity materials along with disclosure of any commercial support received for the activity. Additionally, faculty members have been instructed to disclose any limitations of data and unlabeled or investigational uses of products during their presentations.

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Scholar Experience

Harvard Macy Tweets

harvardmacy Microlearning is chunking up complex learning into a series of short, 10-to-20-minute lessons. How does it work and why does it fit in #MedEd and #HPE ? More here from @NEJM @nejmkplus MT @RoyPhit #HMIHCE #HMIAssessment bit.ly/2phrRza pic.twitter.com/yUsX3ZVZfU
05:00PM Apr 18
harvardmacy Our next #HMIchat on #LearningAnalytics in #MedEd and #HPE starts Weds, April 4th at 9pm EST with moderators @Brent_Thoma and @RB_Cavalcanti . Hope to tweet you there! #HMIassessment pic.twitter.com/l76dpja5wO
05:00PM Apr 01
harvardmacy Been thinking about #EPAs in #MedEd ? Check out our recent blog post authored by @GLBDallaghan & Michael Ashley. They consider core #EPAs for entering residency - & challenge us to consider whether program directors find them valuable. #HMIassessment bit.ly/2GakSSn pic.twitter.com/I0zPvl6a7z
04:00PM Mar 25
harvardmacy Thank you to @AlexisLRossi1 for her thoughtful #HMIassessment post-course reflection tweet. Who else has one? @AmeeraCluntun @Brent_Thoma @greyscalespaces @kristinadzara @janellerblu @hollyby @jesstrier @afornari1 @stberns @AzFarris @jeannemfarnan @laurenjgermain @kasia_mastalerz pic.twitter.com/DBrX2tfFDD
03:01PM Mar 24
harvardmacy How can we encourage students to engage with one another to solve problems? 1) Model active problem solving during lecture. 2) Be mindful of content overload. 3) Build collaboration into class time. More here from @HarvardHILT @HarvardMed #HMIassessment goo.gl/cLP9uK pic.twitter.com/Eu86E4YoMJ
09:59PM Mar 23