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Updates in IUSM Undergraduate Medical Education

Formative Assessment and Formative Feedback

Filed under: Assessment Matters — Melissa Alexander on October 16, 2014 @ 1:03 pm

Providing adequate formative feedback to students is a critical instructional task and an LCME Standard. LCME 9.7 requires that each student is provided formal formative feedback early enough during required courses or clerkships to allow ample time for remediation. That requires, at a minimum, that each course provides students with formal formative feedback at the mid-term. The Standard does consider feasibility issues, but those situations are exceptions. Barriers to providing effective informal and formal formative feedback are not insurmountable.

This blog presents one idea for providing feedback in both smaller and larger classes. There are many ways to effectively provide feedback, and some options are not feasible in some circumstances, so we invite faculty who have developed effective mechanisms for providing both informal and formal formative feedback on learning to share their ideas with colleagues in other disciplines and at other centers. If you would like to share your best practices on formative assessment, please e-mail or We would be happy to do a future blog post of faculty-generated ideas for formative feedback.

To be most useful, feedback should be given more frequently, particularly in semester-long courses with only a few major assessments contributing to the course grade. More frequent feedback can be given either formally or informally. While low-performing students stand to gain the most from early, frequent feedback, feedback is important to all students’ learning. Effective feedback on learning should be specific, and should provide direction for students’ learning behaviors. Although it is easier for faculty to give feedback, particularly narrative and face-to-face feedback, in smaller classes or classes with low student-to-faculty ratios, it is not impossible to give feedback in larger classes.

Data for formative feedback is ideally collected from formative assessments, which are low-stakes exercises with little or no impact on the final course grade, rather than from higher-stakes assessments, such as unit or mid-term exams. Students should receive at least informal feedback from formative assessments prior to any higher-stakes assessment. A mid-term score or grade can serve as part of the formal communication of formative feedback, but since the impact on the grade is substantial, students should first have received ample informal feedback from formative assessment.


Providing Item-Specific Feedback in Computer-Based Quizzing Systems

Oncourse Tests & Surveys, Canvas Quizzes, and ExamSoft quizzes allow faculty to enter automatically-delivered, specific, faculty-generated feedback for each possible response on a variety of different types of quiz items. Feedback can be used to correct misunderstandings or to direct students to particular readings or resources to help with understanding the material. If the quiz is required and you have associated specific feedback with each item, then you have provided one type of formal, formative feedback to guide students’ learning. Using a sufficient number of quiz items leading up to major assessments, either on a single quiz or over multiple quizzes, can provide a rich source of content-specific feedback that allows students to monitor and direct their learning prior to high-stakes assessments.

There is an initial workload in developing the quizzes and associated feedback, but because the items are formative, they can be used in subsequent classes. For more on how to deliver feedback in each of these systems, see the resources below or contact Lorie Shuck,


Oncourse Tests & Surveys: Help contents

Canvas Instructor Guide: Quizzes

ExamSoft: How do I use the rationale section?


Develop Your Teaching Skills in Your Pajamas

Filed under: Teaching Matters — guestblogger on September 30, 2014 @ 12:29 pm

The following was provided by the IUSM Office of Faculty and Professional Development (OFAPD)

The Office of Faculty and Professional Development (OFAPD) has partnered with the Department of Family Medicine and an international consortium of faculty to create a series of Teaching Development Modules. These are 5-15 minute courses are available online, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for free to any IUSM faculty member. The modules address a variety of teaching techniques and are designed to meet the needs of our diverse faculty across the state. You can even use the modules to earn CME credit.

To gain access, visit Once you register, you’ll receive an email within 24 hours with access information. The modules are learner-directed, so you can review them whenever you like. You also have the option to print the modules.

Currently there are three modules available:

  1. Making the Most of Discussion
    This module includes sections on prepping for a discussion, managing student-led seminars, fostering respect, and leading online discussions.
  2. Grading and Giving Feedback
    Incorporated in this module are activities on aligning learning outcomes with assessment, the qualities of good feedback, and deterring plagiarism.
  3. Clinical Teaching.
    Here, you’ll find sections on encouraging active learning, managing time while teaching in the clinical setting, and interprofessional education.

New modules will be developed and released over the next year. Future options will include the basics of lecturing, supervising projects and dissertations, and course design.

The modules were developed through collaboration with the IU Department of Family Medicine and were funded in part by award # D56HP23267-01-00 of the Health Resources and Services Administration.

If at any point you need help using the modules, there is a help button at the top of each lesson. For other questions please contact OFAPD at


IUSM Faculty Recognition Award Opportunities

Filed under: Teaching Matters — Mark Seifert on September 25, 2014 @ 10:52 am

Have you benefited from the mentoring of a particularly dedicated and caring colleague? Have your students been inspired by an outstanding educator to work hard and achieve beyond what they imagined themselves capable of? Do you or someone you know approach teaching and learning through a scholarly lens? Do you know of a colleague who is exceptionally engaged and committed to volunteerism, community based learning, outreach, partnerships, or curricular engagement? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you have an opportunity to nominate individuals to be recognized for the great gifts and talents they provide to our faculty, learners, and community. Nominations are now open for several School-Wide Faculty Awards listed below (with links for further information on eligibility requirements and nomination procedures). Award winners will be recognized at the 2015 Spring Faculty Meeting and nominations are due Wednesday, October 15. Let’s recognize and support our most deserving faculty!

Oncourse to Canvas Transition, Revised Plan

Filed under: Technology Matters — Lorie Shuck on September 19, 2014 @ 10:52 am

Oncourse to Canvas Transition, Revised Plan

As you are likely aware, Indiana University has selected Canvas as the new Learning Management System (LMS) to replace Oncourse. In May of this year we announced a phased-in approach to transitioning IUSM courses from Oncourse to Canvas. The recent news about the timing change for the new curriculum has caused us to rethink our transition timeline. Since our current second year courses will continue to be offered until at least 2017, they will need to transition to Canvas as Oncourse will no longer be available after 2016. To that end, we are including the second year courses into our transition plan, with the goal of all courses transitioning in 2015-16.

To help with the transition, the Learning Technology team in Undergraduate Medical Education will begin scheduling webinars. In addition, we can come to your campus for in-person Canvas workshops. Contact Lorie Shuck (317-278-1506) if you are interested in a workshop on your campus.

IU also has provided many opportunities to learn Canvas. This link will show you all of the Canvas articles on the IU Knowledge Base, and this one will take you to other Canvas resources.



URLs on this page

Sink or Swim: How Not to Approach Self-Directed Learning

Filed under: Assessment Matters — Melissa Alexander on September 10, 2014 @ 5:04 pm


Imagine a non-swimmer signing up for swimming lessons and being plunged into a deep pool without instructions on how to swim. Anyone capable of rational thought at that moment might be thinking it would be nice if the instructor had given them some instructions on how to swim before pushing him in. Assuming the student survives his “lesson”; can you imagine the instructor evaluation form he would fill out? Students new to expectations for self-directed and life-long learning can feel as though they’ve been pushed into deep water with no swimming skills. (more…)

Tips for Maximizing the Impact of PowerPoint Presentations, Part II

Filed under: Technology Matters — Sarah Lang on August 29, 2014 @ 4:08 pm

Last week, I shared two tips for maximizing the impact of your PowerPoint presentations while keeping “Death by PowerPoint” at bay. Keeping with the “less is more” theme presented in Tip #2, this tip shifts more towards aesthetics.


Tip #3: Engage, Don’t Distract

The last way to maximize the impact of your PowerPoint is to limit use of elements that distract more than engage the audience’s attention. Realistically, paying attention to a speaker is difficult enough without the speaker also requiring you to simultaneously ignore animated effects, irritating or indistinguishable color combinations, and other extraneous elements (more…)

Box and IUanyWare Webinars by IT Training

Filed under: Technology Matters — Lorie Shuck on August 26, 2014 @ 9:14 am

Below are two online opportunities from IT Training. They are evening events and are free to attend.


Box: Access Files, Share and Collaborate from Anywhere

Tuesday, August 26 from 5:30-6:30pm EDT.

In this workshop, participants will learn about their new cloud storage option at Indiana University: Box. Box is a cloud storage service that focuses on collaboration between users. IU faculty, staff, and students are all eligible for an account with 50 GB of storage. In this workshop, we will learn how users can create and access their account, store and share files, as well as how to use Box as an effective collaboration tool.

The webinar is free and open to all. Details at Register there or just show up at to attend.


IUanyWare: A Brief Introduction (more…)

Tips for Maximizing the Impact of PowerPoint Presentations – Part I

Filed under: Technology Matters — Sarah Lang on August 22, 2014 @ 3:12 pm

We’ve all experienced it and, let’s admit it, we’ve all done it: we have ALL created ineffective PowerPoint presentations at one time or another. And despite our best efforts to forge ahead, we have all been victims (and, some of us, perpetrators!) of “Death by PowerPoint”.   Over the next two weeks, I will share three tips for maximizing the impact of your PowerPoint presentations while keeping “Death by PowerPoint” at bay. Here are the first two:


Tip #1: Words before Slides

One of the simplest ways to maximize the impact of your PowerPoint presentations is to write down what you want to say before you create or select your slides. Though this sounds like a “no-brainer”, most people, particularly those pressed for time, typically do not do it. All too often, presenters will create their slides while (or worse, before) they decide what to say. We have all seen the evidence of this live—whether it’s the presenter who reads their slides verbatim; the presenter who repeatedly tells the audience to “ignore the details” on slides; or the presenter who attempts the land speed record for slide advancement to finish their presentation on time—these are all evidence that the slides, rather than the presenter, designed the presentation.

So, what method for capturing your plan is best? That really depends on the type of presentation and how you like to organize your thoughts. For example, you could write an outline, or draw a flow chart, or talk through what you plan to say, jotting down notes as you speak. You could also (more…)

July Learning Technology Newsbits

Filed under: Technology Matters — Lorie Shuck on July 2, 2014 @ 3:55 pm

This blog post covers a few new things in the world of learning technology for the IU School of Medicine. Contact me with any questions you have about these items. I can be reached at or (317) 278-1506.



First of all, I want to take a moment to introduce you all to Rachel Mahan, who is new to IUSM. Rachel will be working as the Assessment Technology Coordinator for UME. In this role, she will manage aspects of ExamSoft exams and NBME exams. Please feel free to contact Rachel with your exam questions. Here is her contact info:

Rachel Mahan
Assessment Technology Coordinator for UME
(317) 274-8303



Another item that might be of interest to some is a pilot for a video management tool that IU is conducting this fall. (more…)

Grade Scale Proposal starting Academic Year 2015-2016

Filed under: Assessment Matters,Curriculum Matters — Mark Seifert on June 25, 2014 @ 4:49 pm

An email was distributed earlier this month from the CCSC requesting input and comment from faculty and medical students concerning a proposed change to the IUSM grading system. This proposal arose from an ad hoc Grade Scale Subcommittee (GSS) that identified and reviewed relevant literature on the effects of various grading systems in both preclinical and clinical years of the curriculum. The window of opportunity for receipt of your comments is quickly closing (Friday, June 27th). I hope you have taken or will take the opportunity to register your thoughts on this important matter. We need to hear from you!

The instructions below provide you a step-by-step guide for accessing resources and submitting comments in Oncourse. Once in the Feedback and Resources page you will find the proposal, articles the GSS reviewed, and their report. A link is provided for submitting your comments. Please take the time to enter your views.

To provide your feedback on the proposal, follow the steps below.


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