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A Successful Faculty Development Program for Implementing a Sociocultural ePortfolio Assessment Tool

Perlman, Rachel L. MD; Christner, Jennifer MD; Ross, Paula T. PhD; Lypson, Monica L. MD, MHPE

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000120

Portfolios are emerging as a tool for documenting learning progression and assessing competency. ePortfolios are appealing as a portable and fluid means of documenting both learning and relevant experiences in a large number of students. Competence and learning can be especially difficult to document in important aspects of education and training, such as patient-centeredness, the cultural context of disease, and social determinants of health that do not lend themselves to fact-based assessment methods. Successful implementation of a method such as an ePortfolio requires explicit faculty development, as many faculty members have limited expertise with modern educational assessment technology. As part of the authors’ introduction of a Sociocultural ePortfolio Assessment Tool in the undergraduate medical curriculum, three faculty development workshops were held to expand faculty skills in using this technology. In addition to gaining comfort using a new Web-based technology, faculty members also needed to develop skills with providing mentored feedback and stimulating student reflection. Workshops were modeled after other successful programs reported in the literature and allowed faculty to develop a structured format for evaluating student content. Faculty members were given multiple opportunities to practice their newly developed skills providing mentored reflections using an ePortfolio. The workshop evaluations were positive, suggesting that faculty participation in the workshops were a necessary component for them to develop sufficient assessment skills for providing mentored reflection. Faculty members who participated in this program—whether or not they had content expertise in sociocultural medicine—valued the hands-on faculty development program.

Dr. Perlman is chief of nephrology, Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and assistant professor, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dr. Christner is associate dean for undergraduate medical education, Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, New York.

Dr. Ross is program manager, Office of Medical Student Education, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Dr. Lypson is professor, Departments of Internal Medicine and Medical Education, assistant dean for graduate medical education, University of Michigan Medical School, and staff physician, Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Funding/Support: This work was funded by the Gilbert Whitaker Fund for the Improvement of Teaching, an internal grant competition sponsored by the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching at the University of Michigan.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: This study was granted exemptions status from the institutional review board at the University of Michigan Medical School.

Previous presentations: The abstract of an earlier version of this article was presented at the 10th annual SAKAI conference, Boston, Massachusetts, July 2009; the 14th Annual Ottawa Conference on the Assessment of Competence in Medicine and the Health Care Professions, Miami, Florida, May 2010; as well as the Association for Medical Education in Europe annual conference, Glasgow, Scotland, September 2010.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Lypson, 2600 Green Rd., #150B, SPC 5791, Ann Arbor, MI 48105; telephone: (734) 764-3186; fax: (734) 763-5889; e-mail:

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges