Document Type: Letter to Editor

Authors

1 Medical Education Department, Medical School, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Prosthodontics Department, Dentistry School, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

Abstract

Dear Editor Program directors need to evaluate educationalprograms to ensure their quality (1). The resultsof a survey conducted in Tehran University ofMedical Sciences (TUMS) in early 2012 showedthat program evaluation was not an establishedprocess in the majority of schools. It was at besta stand-alone project focusing on a single courseor a particular component of it with no structuredfollow-up (2). Hence, we decided to promoteand organize course evaluation practices in ouruniversity by development of general guidelines.TUMS has eleven affiliated schools of varioussizes and scope of activities. It was importantto propose guidelines that were general enoughto provide acceptable degree of consistency andcoherence among evaluation activities in schools,and yet specific enough to enable schools to havetheir own evaluation plan tailored to their needs.In this regard, the project taskforce decided toconsider the related literature on the existingprogram evaluation standards and guidelinesas the starting point and formulate guidelinesaligned with TUMS condition.After generating the draft for the guidelinesby taskforce, it was distributed among decisionmakers in all schools and their comments wereobtained. Once the guideline was revised basedon the suggestions, it was approved by theuniversity Education Council in November 2012.In total, 22 guidelines categorized in 3 domainsincluding course evaluation “infrastructures”,“design and implementation”, and “reporting andutilization of the results” were developed (2).After sending the guidelines to schools, acomprehensive program evaluation workshop wasconducted for the schools’ delegates. Afterwards,each school designed its own course evaluationplan based on the university guidelines. Courseevaluation plans were appraised by taskforce and,if necessary, feedback was provided through aformal letter, face to face meeting or telephoneconversation.Development of guidelines was a valuableapproach to reach a common understanding of courseevaluation between stakeholders in our university.There is usually an inadequate understandingof what course evaluation is and the concept isfrequently reduced to teacher evaluation or studentassessment (3). In spite of creating consistency ofevaluation activities in our institution, the guidelineswere not prescriptive and the schools were allowedto design their own plans adapted to their context,which is vital for a large institution such as TUMSwith diverse cultural contexts.We believe our approach has made changes in individuals’ thinking as well as the culture ofschools involved in the process of developmentof course evaluation guidelines. The next step isbuilding the evaluation capacity in our universityby sustainable evaluation practices based on theevaluation guidelines.