Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine

of Case Western Reserve University

Academics > Assessment > How Students Adapt

How Students Adapt

How Students Adapt

Perhaps the best way to learn how the program’s assessment system works is from the students themselves.

Hear what our students have to say about the assessment system.

Many students are uncertain about what to expect from a competency-based assessment system, particularly when exams and grades are completely removed from the equation. Some aren’t sure how to gauge their learning; others fear that the absence of grades might affect their motivation; and still others are uncomfortable with using feedback as a tool for improvement. 


Once students adapt to the new assessment system, they not only find it useful during medical school, but they also anticipate how well this approach will serve them as future physicians.


The following excerpts are from Altahawi F.; Sisk B; Poloskey S; Hicks C; and Dannefer EF. Student perspectives on assessment: Experience in a competency-based portfolio system.  Med Teach. 2012;34(3):221-5.


“My attitude on feedback shifted from the criticism to the constructive. The system seemed to be working for me to improve on many aspects of becoming a doctor that would not necessarily have been addressed otherwise.” – Student 1

“By receiving targeted feedback in lieu of a sterile number or letter grade, I was better able to understand and accept my strengths and weaknesses.” – Student 2

“As I moved through my clinical years, I found my entire approach to my education had changed. I was even actively seeking feedback and acting on it without prompt from the system. This approach in itself was received well by all those around me and resulted in overwhelmingly positive interactions.” – Student 1

“In addition to requesting written feedback, I found myself verbally requesting feedback from residents and attending physicians at the midpoint and end of each rotation. In addition, I shared areas of performance that I planned to work on improving at the start of each rotation so that those supervising were able to comment on my progress.” – Student 3

“At this point in my education, 5 years after I first engaged in the portfolio-based system, I have come to rely on the feedback that I receive; the written comments I received from my residents and attendings are a much better barometer of how I am performing and what I can work on than any grade might be.” – Student 4

“In fact, during a recent visiting elective at an outside program, I made an extra effort to practice this approach despite that program’s grade-based system. Although the forum for frequent written feedback was not in place, my experience within the CCLCM system had made me confident and comfortable enough to seek verbal critiques, which helped me improve my performance and gain significantly more from that rotation than I otherwise might have.” – Student 4

PDF Read the entire paper here.