Course Comparability Policy – Phase 1

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Full Policy Contents

Policy Statement
Reason for Policy

Additional Contacts
Related Information

Effective: Retroactive
Last Updated: 12/20/2019

Responsible University Office:
Medical Student Education

Responsible University Administrator
Senior associate dean for medical student education

Policy Contact:

RESPONSIBLE Director of Foundational Science Integration Phase 1
Associate dean of foundational sciences
ACCOUNTABLE Curriculum Council Steering Committee
SUPPORT Medical Student Education
CONSULT Foundational Component Committee
INFORM Learning Technology, Medical Student Education

LCME Standards

8.7 Comparability of Education/Assessment


Indiana University School of Medicine students and faculty members involved in phase 1 of the undergraduate medical curriculum.

Policy Statement

IUSM, by way of its curricular committees, provides oversight and management to ensure all educational experiences in the phase 1 curriculum have comparability of instruction and assessment at all educational sites.

Reason for Policy

IUSM comprises nine educational sites. This policy ensures statewide comparability of course content, instructional pedagogy, and assessment.


Approved by the Curriculum Council Steering Committee 02/14/2017.


Instructional format. No more than 50 percent of course content (defined by total contact hours, including assessments) can be delivered in traditional lecture format as defined in the AAMC Curriculum Inventory Standardized Instructional and Assessment Methods and Resource Types. The non-lecture portion of the course will include planned opportunities for self- directed learning that are assessed as part of the course in a formative and/or summative manner (see policy on Self-directed Learning).

Course content. The statewide course management teams are responsible for course content, which is driven by the course-level objectives and outlined in the session-level objectives. Each course management team chooses the instructional method(s) that best fit the respective session-level learning objectives and determine how self-directed learning is best incorporated into the course.

Instructional methods. Instructional methods are driven by course-level and session-level learning objectives. Some session-level learning objectives will be best delivered by lecture, while others are more suited to non-didactic teaching pedagogies such as problem-based learning, team-based learning, case-based learning, laboratory, etc.

Course modifications. To ensure the opportunity for continuous quality improvement of courses, the Curriculum Council Steering Committee permits piloted changes in instructional format following approval by the relevant course management team. Course data from the common assessments and student feedback determine the efficacy of any new approach. The course management team must approve any continuation of the instructional variation in future course offerings.

Synchronicity of course content and equivalence of assessment. Across the nine-campus system, the timing of course content may vary on a weekly basis. However, the same session-level learning objectives must be covered within the same assessment period. For example, if a six-week course has exams every two weeks, the same content must be covered at all nine campuses during each two-week interval.

(In the case of Foundations of Clinical Practice, in addition to the above regarding both formative and summative written and clinical assessments, the same session-level objectives must be completed prior to designated longitudinal clinic encounters.)

For foundational science Phase 1 courses (excluding Transitions 1 and Foundations of Clinical Practice 1 and 2), the statewide course management team determines the number and schedule of high-stakes exams, which are administered at the same date and timeframe state-wide. At the conclusion of these courses, a customized NBME final exam is administered statewide which is comprehensive for the material in the course; all material covered on the NBME exam will have been previously assessed in the course.

Identical high-stakes exams are required for at least the first two years that a course is offered. All students will be provided an opportunity to review IUSM-generated course exams (excluding NBME and remedial exams) in a secure, proctored environment. Exam reviews will occur within several days after the exam. As statistical analysis of exam questions accumulates, it is conceivable that course management teams may build exams that are identically blueprinted to course- level and session-level learning objectives and have identical item difficulty (p value); discrimination index (point biserial); and function of distractors. Question banks assembled by the course management teams would enable faculty members to select assessment questions that would render equivalent assessments. Equivalence is subject to confirmation by statistical analysis of exam data and comparison of course outcomes to measures of external validity, such as standardized exams (e.g., NBME shelf exams).

Lower-stakes assessments, such as quizzes that do not substantially (less than 5 percent total) contribute to students’ grades must be equivalent, although not identical. However, because quizzes shape students’ expectations for higher-stakes assessments, course management teams are encouraged to develop assessment review processes that promote equivalence in quiz content and format.

Course Evaluations. All Phase 1 courses are required to set aside a 30 minute required session prior to or at the beginning of the final required small group session for students to complete course and faculty evaluations. IUSM’s target is to achieve a minimum response rate of 75% for each course.

Phase 1 attendance policy is explained in the Schedule Conflicts, Absences, and Vacations Policy.

Phase 1 grading policy is explained in the Grade Policy for Phase 1 Courses.

Grading narrative policy Faculty members are required to include narrative comments when completing the student grading/evaluation forms. Forms without narrative comments will not be considered complete.

Timeliness of grade submission Deadlines for certifying passing and failing course grades are described in the Timeliness of Foundational Science Course and Clerkship Grade Submission Policy.


Failure to honor this policy will put anyone in conflict with the direction and guidance of the Curriculum Council Steering Committee. Specific factors or limited issues not in compliance require a formal report from the representative course directors to the Curriculum Council Steering Committee that outlines an exact process/plan to achieve compliance. Faculty in conflict with this policy will be referred to the Office of Faculty Affairs and Professional Development for consultation.

Additional Contacts

Subject Contact Phone Email
Phase 1 leadership Medical Student Education (317) 274-0758
Executive associate dean of faculty affairs and professional development Mary Dankoski 317-278-0367

Related Information


Name changed from Course Development and approved by the Curriculum Council Steering Committee 1/12/2016.
Amendment 1 (synchronicity of course content and equivalence of assessment) approved by Basic Science Component Committee (now Foundational Component Committee) 3/26/2016; approved by Curriculum Council Steering Committee 4/19/2016.
Amendment 2 (phase 1 attendance policy) approved by the Curriculum Council Steering Committee 8/16/16.
Policy number added 2/01/2017.
Approved by the Curriculum Council Steering Committee 2/14/2017.
Rescission of mandatory didactic session attendance beginning 4/10/2017 with CCSC approval on 4/7/2017.
Inclusion of appropriate policies to address attendance and grading.  07/24/2017.
Inclusion of secure, proctored exam review language; approved by Foundational Component Committee 01/23/2018.
Approved by Curriculum Council Steering Committee 02/13/2018.
CCSC Policy Subcommittee met on 08/27/2018. To review instructional format and recommend changes to CCSC. Replaced Phase 1 Dean with Director of Foundational Science Integration Phase 1.
Approved by Curriculum Council Steering Committee 09/11/2018.
Addition of “Course Evaluations” to “Procedures” 07/23/2019.
Approved by Foundational Component Committee 7/23/2019.
Approved by Curriculum Council Steering Committee 8/20/2019
Revision to codify foundational Phase 1 courses use a comprehensive final exam. 11/25/2019.
Approved by FCC 11/26/2019.
Approved by CCSC 12/20/2019.