Phase 1 Assessment Policies and Procedures in the Illinois Medicine Curriculum

Approved by CCIA on 08-05-2020

  • Expectations of Students in All Courses Types of Courses in Phase 1
  • Types of Courses in Phase 1
  • Graded Assessment in Phase 1
    • Block Courses
    • Doctoring and Clinical Skills Synthesis Weeks
    • Medical Colloquia
    • Transition to Clerkships

Expectations of students in all courses:

  • Students must satisfactorily complete all course requirements in order to be promoted to the next year. Accumulation of more than two unmet requirements (URs) at the same time during a given academic year will halt a student’s progress in the curriculum. See Student Academic Policies and Professional Standards: [add link here]
  • Unmet Requirement (UR): An unmet requirement is defined as a lack of demonstration of proficiency in medical knowledge or clinical skills through failure:
    • To meet the minimum pass level (MPL) of a block exam on first attempt
    • To meet the MPL of an end of term exam (e.g. DoCS) on first attempt
    • To meet the MPL of the M1 Core exam on first attempt
    • To meet the MPL of the M1 or M2 OSCE on first attempt
    • Of a non-compensatory component of any course as noted in the course’s grading rubric and the Phase 1 assessment policy (e.g., professionalism standard or assignment)
    • Of a course, or a term in the case of longitudinal courses (e.g., DoCS, Synthesis).
  • Students must participate in required activities, such as attending and participating in activities and completing preparatory and follow-up assignments on time with appropriate engagement to receive a passing grade.
  • Students are expected to attend all mandatory activities in their entirety.  
  • Students are expected to know and to abide by the standards for professional behavior detailed in the College of Medicine’s Student Academic Policies and Professional Standards. 
  • Not meeting the aforementioned expectations may impact students’ ability to progress through the College of Medicine’s undergraduate medicine program. Students who are contacted by representatives of curricular affairs or student affairs (Deans, course faculty, advisors, course coordinators) are expected to respond promptly and to meet with representatives as requested.

Types of courses in Phase 1 (Pre-clerkship): Block Courses and Longitudinal Courses

Phase 1 comprises seven Block courses, three longitudinal courses, and a course to prepare for the start of clerkships.

Each of the seven Block courses is 5-10 weeks in duration. The first two Block courses provide a broad overview of medical science topics. Blocks starting with Block 3 have a primary focus on a specific set of related organ systems.

Three longitudinal courses run the entire length of Phase 1:

  • Doctoringand Clinical Skills (DoCS) focuses on work with patients in clinical settings as well as in simulation practice settings.
  • Synthesis meets for a week at the end of each Block course and then for six weeks at the end of Phase 1, integrating concepts immediately before the Step 1 exam.
  • Medical Colloquia meets several times during each Block course throughout Phase 1 and engages our community in powerful dialogue about key issues in medicine.

The final course of phase 1 is Transition to Clerkships (TTC). TTC provides practice in clinical skills and procedures and exposure to the expectations of the clinical environment.

Graded Assessment in Phase 1

All courses in Phase 1 result in a transcript record of either Pass or Fail. Longitudinal courses result in a transcript record for each term. 

Graded assessment in Block courses

Block courses provide foundational medical knowledge via case-based learning in a classroom or lab setting, or via independent learning. Block grades comprise three weighted elements:

  • Professional engagement, 10%
  • Weekly assessments, 30%
  • Final exam, 60%

Professional Engagement

Professional Engagement represents 10% of the total grade for a Block course and is based on attendance. In Block courses, it is non-compensatory, meaning that this element must be passed to receive a course grade of Pass. Unexcused absences negatively impact the Professional Engagement element of the grade. An unexcused absence on one day represents 1 of 10 Professional Engagement points. (See Attendance Policy for description of unexcused absences.). If students have more than three unexcused absences, they receive a failing grade for the Block course.

Failure of a block course will be considered an unmet requirement. Provided that a student has no more than TWO current URs in any component of the curriculum, they may remediate the  block course. Remediation of the failure will be determined by the College-Wide Block Leadership, the Phase 1 ECC chair and the curricular deans from all campuses and may include a requirement to repeat the course, which may delay curricular progress. The unmet requirement will be resolved when the course is successfully remediated.

All other professionalism issues may elicit a Professional Development: Concerns form and meetings with the course director and campus student affairs and curriculum deans.

Weekly Assessment

Weekly assessments comprise 30% of the Block course grade, and include both the weekly quizzes and the TBL scores on the individual readiness assurance test (IRAT) and team readiness assurance test (TRAT). Weekly quizzes have approximately 20 items that are graded as completion only. Students are expected to complete the quiz individually and closed book. Students will receive full credit for completing each quiz regardless of their quiz score. Quiz scores and item rationales will be provided to students so that they can identify and address specific learning gaps throughout the Block. TBLs are scored based on performance on the IRAT and TRAT. Consult the syllabus for each Block course for a description of how weekly assessments are weighted.

The weekly quiz is a learning resource that students are expected to use appropriately and to engage in fully. If a student receives a message from Academic or Student Affairs requesting to discuss quiz performance, the student is expected to respond promptly.

Not responding to an Academic or Student Affairs email request, missing a weekly quiz without prior notification or communication, not taking the quiz individually, or not completing the quiz with appropriate effort are all issues that will result in meeting with academic and student affairs administrators and completing a Professional Development Concerns form. Students with two Professional Development Concerns forms may be presented to the College Committee on Student Promotions (CCSP).

Final Exam

The Final Exam represents 60% of the total Block grade and is based on a proctored examination with roughly 100 NBME-format items. The minimum pass level varies based on the faculty-rated difficulty level of the items in each exam. The final exams in Block courses are non-compensatory, meaning that one must pass the exam in order to pass the course.

An exam failure on the initial attempt is designated as an “unmet requirement” (UR). See above for definition and consequences of URs. Provided that a student has no more than TWO current URs in any component of the curriculum, they may retake the block exam and must retake the exam before the subsequent academic year. Block exam retakes are offered at designated times during the year (e.g., winter break, spring break, summer vacation and Block 8 for M2s). Only one block exam can be retaken during winter break.

If the student passes the exam on retake, they will receive a “pass” for the course. If they fail the exam on retake, they will receive a fail for the course and will need to appear before the promotions committee to determine eligibility to repeat the academic year.

Students with Block final exam scores below or near the minimum pass level will work with faculty and staff in the Office of Student Affairs to develop a learning plan. Support may include a learning specialist consultation, peer education, and other referrals.

Graded assessment in longitudinal course: Doctoring and Clinical Skills (DoCS)

DoCS is a clinical course and the same level of professionalism is expected in this course as is expected in clerkships. Assessment in DoCS is based on observation of students’ practice of clinical skills and attitudes. Punctual attendance is required at all DoCS sessions. Late attendance or failure to attend an activity will affect the student’s overall DoCS grade.

At the end of each 16-week term, students receive a Pass / Fail grade for this longitudinal course.

The DoCS course has three high stakes examinations. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the history-taking OSCE will take place during DoCS1, and the Clinical Reasoning OSCE and Core exam will occur during DoCS2.  Failure of any of the examinations is considered an “unmet requirement.” See above for definition and consequences of URs.

Provided that a student has no more than TWO unmet requirements in any component of the curriculum, they may retake the DoCS high stakes exam. The DoCS staff will set the time for the retake in coordination with the student, their advisor, and the standardized patient center. The retake must happen before the next academic year. Passing the retake exam results in resolution of the unmet requirement, and provided there are no other unmet requirements for DoCS will also result in a “pass” for the term. Failing the retake exam results in failing the course term for DoCS. Remediation of the failed term is at the discretion of the DoCS team and may include a second retake of the exam, or repeating the DoCS course, which may require additional time in the curriculum.

The course grade element weights vary from term to term throughout the longitudinal course, and students are provided with the grading table in advance of each term.

Professional Engagement

Professional Engagement in a DoCS course is based on attendance and conduct.

Unexcused absences negatively impact the Professional Engagement element of the grade and are considered professional lapses. An unexcused absence on one day will result in the loss of 2 points in the category of professionalism within the DoCS grading table and will result in a score of zero for a quiz (if scheduled). (See Attendance Policy for description of unexcused absences).

Attendance in DoCS courses is non-compensatory, meaning this element must be passed to receive a course grade of Pass.

Exceeding the specified number of unexcused absences posted below by course results in a failing course grade regardless of performance on other course grade elements:

DoCS 1 unexcused absences allowed before course failure:

  • three unexcused absences in the Fall term
  • two unexcused absences in the Spring term
  • one unexcused absence in the Summer term

DoCS 2 unexcused absences allowed before course failure:

  • three unexcused absences in the Fall term
  • one unexcused absence in the Spring term

Professional behavior is considered a non-compensatory component of each term.  Professionalism issues or lapses will elicit a Professional Development: Concerns form and meetings with the course director and campus student affairs and curriculum deans.   A pattern of professionalism lapses will lead to a college-wide DoCS leadership review of the student’s performance to determine if the student meets the expected level of professionalism.  Students not at the expected level are at risk for failure and will be recommended for individualized coaching and/or remediation.  If professional lapses continue despite remediation, students will receive a failing grade.

Failure of a DoCS course for the term will be considered an unmet requirement. Remediation of the failure will be determined by the College-Wide DoCS Leadership, the Phase 1 ECC chair and the curricular deans from all campuses. It may include a requirement to repeat the course, which may delay curricular progress. The unmet requirement will be resolved when the course is successfully remediated.

Graded assessment in longitudinal course: Synthesis

Synthesis Grade: At the end of each 16-week term, students receive a Pass/Fail grade for this longitudinal course. Successful completion of required activities for Synthesis Weeks and Synthesis Capstone Block 8 will result in a passing grade for this longitudinal course.

The course grade element weights vary from term to term, and students are provided with the grading table in advance.

Failure to complete all the Synthesis requirements by the specified date will be considered an unmet requirement. Remediation of Synthesis components will be determined by the College-Wide Synthesis Leadership, the Phase 1 ECC chair and the curricular deans from all campuses. It may include a requirement to repeat the course, which may delay curricular progress. The unmet requirement will be resolved when the course is successfully remediated. Passing the remediation results in passing the course. Failing the remediation results in failing the course. Remediation of the failed course is at the discretion of the Synthesis team and may include repeating Synthesis, which could require additional time in the curriculum.

Graded assessment in longitudinal course: Medical Colloquia

Students are required to prepare for, participate in, and submit periodic reports of their participation, learning goals achieved, and future learning plans regarding the topics addressed.

Students must complete the required number of Medical Colloquia assignments with appropriate engagement to receive a passing grade. At the end of each 16-week term, students receive a Pass/Fail grade for this longitudinal course.

Failure to complete all the Medical Colloquia requirements by the specified date will be considered an unmet requirement. Remediation of Colloquia components will be determined by the College-Wide Colloquia Leadership, the Phase 1 ECC chair and the curricular deans from all campuses. It may include a requirement to repeat the course, which may delay curricular progress. The unmet requirement will be resolved when the course is successfully remediated. Passing the remediation results in passing the course. Failing the remediation results in failing the course. Remediation of the failed course is at the discretion of the Colloquia team and may include repeating Medical Colloquia, which could require additional time in the curriculum.

Graded assessment in Transition to Clerkships (TTC)

Student assessment in TTC is based upon the direct observation of student skills, attitudes, and problem solving abilities. Grades for the course are either Pass or Fail.  To receive a Passing grade in TTC, students must:

    1. Attend all sessions and sign-in as announced prior to each session.
    2. Be on time for all sessions.
    3. Complete all assignments on time.
    4. Be professional at all times.
    5. Participate fully in all session.
    6. Complete all assigned evaluations.

Failure to complete all the TTC requirements by the specified date will be considered an unmet requirement. Remediation of TTC components will be determined by the course coordinator and/or course director. The unmet requirement will be resolved when the course is successfully remediated. Passing the remediation results in passing the course. Not satisfactorily completing all remaining course requirements within the specified time frame will result in a grade of “Fail” for the course. Remediation of the failed course is completing TTC in its entirety, which could require additional time in the curriculum.