Outcomes assessment is “summative”, which is fancy for measures whether desired results have been achieved. A “formative” assessment, however, addresses something while in development to be sure it’s on track. Moore et al (2009) make a strong case for formative assessment in CME, but leave the “how-to” details to our imagination (I guess when you’re covering every aspect of CME you need to leave a few bits out).
Here’s one recipe for formative assessment (for live CME activities):
- Have your course faculty develop knowledge and/or case vignette questions relative to their pending talks
- Turn these questions into a web-based survey (www.SurveyMonkey.com)
- At least two weeks prior to the activity date, email the survey to all activity registrants
- Share the registrants’ responses with your course faculty
- Adjust the pending talks accordingly
If you feel the need to incentivize respondents (which I never discourage), offer them a discount off registration for another activity. If you want more detail, check out this short JCEHP article.
I’ve used this approach a few times and it’s been generally successful (i.e., good response rate and faculty have used some of the data to modify their presentations). However, I don’t want to pretend this approach is “setting-the-bar” for formative assessment. If you’re not doing any such assessment, this is a good way to get started. Play with this for a while and you’ll discover ways to get more sophisticated – just remember to share what you’re doing with the rest us!